JDev Creating a shared skin jar (Part 2)

In part 1 or the series we created a simple skin, built an ADF-Library from it and tried to reuse it by deploying it to a WebLogic Server. This approach failed. In this part, we try another option to share a jar with

Sharing the skin with other applications

To share the skin with other application we can

  1. Create an ADF Library
    1. Add this library to the other application
    2. Add this library as a shared library to a WebLogic Server
  2. Create a normal jar
    1. Add this library to the other application
    2. Add this library as a shared library to a WebLogic Server

For this blog the way we want to use if 2b. This allows to create the skin once, deploy it to a server and use it in every other application. In the next paragraph, we try out option 1a to show the problems when reading resources from a jar file.

Using a shared skin

Option 2b

Here we create a jar file containing the skin and additional resources like images and deploy it directly to a WebLogic Server as a shared library. The advantage is, that other applications can use the skin and other resources directly and that the jar can be versioned to allow different versions of the same jar on the server.

Option 1a which we discussed in the previous chapter doesn’t work for images. However, the documentation ‘Deploying a Custom Skin File in a JAR File’ and Frank Nimphius pointed it out in e.g. 86. Reading boilerplate images and icons from a JAR or How-to share skin definition files across applications how the jar file must be structured to allow the resource servlet to read the resources. The essential sentence is

‘All image resources and CSS files must also be under the META-INF directory.’

In his article, Frank suggested using the command line jar tool to create the jar. I show how to use JDev to create the jar with the needed structure and how to deploy it to a server as a shared library.

A sample application is used to use the skin and to show an image load from the jar.

The building plan for a skin in a shared Library which can be deployed to a WebLogic server is given in the article as:

To implement the shared library approach, developers need to change their existing skin definition so it can be deployed in a JAR file. The steps for this include

– Creating a META-INF directory – Creating a trinidad-skins.xml file that defines the skins deployed with the JAR file

– Creating an META-INF/adf sub directory for images and icons served from the JAR file

– Changing the image reference in the CSS to include the “adf” directory, which makes sure images and icons are handled by the ADF Faces resource loader, which can read resources from JAR files

– JAR the META-INF directory to create the library file

Looking at the current project for the skin we see a different layout

In the article Frank instructed to create the needed folders yourself and copying or moving the files to the new structure, then to use the command line to build a jar from the structure.

I’ll show how this can be done with a special deployment descriptor from within the project. The image below shows the needed layout of the final jar file.

To transform the folder structure present in JDev to the needed structure of the final jar, we create a new deployment descriptor in JDev

In image 4 we see the first part of the solution: here we set the path inside the jar to ‘MEAT-INF’. This will guarantee the structure we need. Then we add another contributor to the list (public_html) to get everything we need into this folder. Then we use the ‘Filters’ node to select all content we need skin part

Next part is to create another path in the jar for the metadata of the skin

We add another file group for the resources

Now we can deploy the jar using the new deployment descriptor

And the jar file is created in the deploy folder. It holds all files in the right folders

Finally, we can deploy this jar to the WebLogicServer. In this case, I use the integrated WLS, but it can be any stand-alone WLS too.

The error message you see on the 7th image can be ignored. It only tells you that the library can’t be deployed as an application but only as a shared library. This is exactly what we want to do 🙂

Now the jar file is deployed on the WLS as a shared library and can be used for every application on this server.

We use the existing application from part one to consume the jar skin from the shared library and show the images deployed with the jar.

Before we go any further, we have to remove the ADF Library we added to show the problem from the project. For this open the project properties and select the ‘Library/Classpath’ node and remove the ‘ADFLibrary’ entry

The page should now look like no skin is used at all.

As we already added a skin (with the ADF Library) we don’t have to do this again. However, we have to add a library reference to configure the application to use the shared library deployed on the server. For this, we open the application descriptors and edit the ‘weblogic-application.xml’ file by double clicking the entry in the application resources section

In the ‘Shared Library Reference’ section, we add a reference to the now deployed shared jar ‘blogsharedskin’

Saving everything we don’t see any change to the page design, as the library isn’t part of the application yet. Starting the application we get

Just what we liked to see. The images are visible, checking the page with Chrome’s Dev Tools shows that the images are correctly loaded

This proves that the shared library with the skin and the images are working correctly.

To make the skin visible in JDev during development, we can add the jar we developed to the server a library. We create a library

and make sure the ‘Deploy by default’ is NOT set. Adding the library to the project

will make the skin visible in design mode

The unset checkmark prevents the jar from being packed into the WAR or EAR file. It’s just used in the IDE. That you can’t see the images is normal as there is no full server to serve the images to the design view.


In this mini-series, I showed the problem when creating a skin as ADF Library and trying to share it on a Weblogic Server. Then I showed how to create a deployment descriptor for the skin and other resources and how to deploy the resulting jar to a WebLogic Server.

The sample application can be downloaded from BlogSharedSkin. The sample was created by using JDev but the same technique can be used in any 12.2.1.x JDev version. There is no database connection needed.


JDev Creating a shared skin jar (Part 1)

In earlier versions of JDev, skins have been created either by pure code or by using the free Skin Editor. However, since JDev 12.2.1.x the skin editor has been integrated into JDeveloper itself.

A couple of questions in the ODC JDeveloper space are about how to create a skin with JDev which can be deployed as a shared library to a WebLogic Server. I gave this a try and it turned out, that you can build an ADF library jar from a skin project but you can’t use images to this jar which you might want to use in the application.

In this blog, I’ll show how to create a skin with resources like images and how to build a jar file from the skin together with the images and deploy it aa s shared jar to a WeblogicServer.

Building a skin project

The first part is to build a small skin project. The project we use to create a minimal skin, just to show that the skin is changing something. Then we add some images to the skin which we want to use in the application which uses the skin. Such images can e.g. used on an af:button component.

We start by creating a new application as an ‘ADF Fusion Web Application’

As we don’t need the created model project we delete it completely

If you get another dialog, telling you that you can’t undo the action, answer ‘Yes’ to delete the project. Now you should see a workspace with just the one project:

Know that we have a project we add a skin and e.g. add some skin selectors to change to the color of the button text. For this, we right click the ‘Web Content’ folder in the project and select ‘New from Garaly’ and then select ‘ADF Skin’ from the ‘JSF/Facelets’ node and fill in the basic information:

This will create the needed css file and the descriptors which define our skin (trinidad-config.xml and trinidad-skins.xml).

We open the sharedskin.css file if it’s not open already and switch to source mode. Here we add two simple skin selectors

which are changing the color of the text of a button and a link. You can add more sophisticated selectors but for this blog, it’s enough to show the working skin. To make it more interesting, and because that’s the real reason for this blog, we add some images to the skin which we like to use in the application using the skin. We add the images into a new folder like shown below

The reason for this structure is, that to read the images from the jar in the consuming application, we need a special resource loader. In case of ADF it’s the resource servlet which listens to the URL pattern ‘/adf/’’. This servlet is installed automatically for ADF Web Applications and is configured in the web.xml file

The final task for the skin project is to create a jar file which we can use in other applications. The easiest way to get such a jar is to create an ADF Library deployment descriptor. Open the project properties of the skin project and select the ‘Deployment’ node

And click the ‘New Profile’ icon, select to create an ADF Library Jar

and click ‘OK’. The remaining dialogs you can just click ‘OK’ or ‘Finish’.

To create the library we have to execute the descriptor by right-clicking on the project and selecting ‘Deploy’ and choosing the ‘sharedskinadflib’

This will create the jar in the ‘deploy’ folder of the project.

Sharing the skin with other applications

To share the skin with other application we can

  1. Create an ADF Library
    1. Add this library to the other application
    2. Add this library as a shared library to a WebLogic Server
  2. Create a normal jar
    1. Add this library to the other application
    2. Add this library as a shared library to a WebLogic Server

For this blog, we want to use option 2b. This allows to create the skin once, deploy it to a server and use it in every other application. In the next paragraph, we try out option 1a to show the problems when reading resources from a jar file.

Using a shared skin

Option 1a

We start with option 1a, just to show the problem when we try to read a resource from a jar. We build another ADF Fusion Web application and add the skin as ADF library from a ‘File System Connection’ which we create and let it point to the ‘deploy’ folder

Right-click on the ‘sharedskinadflib’ and add it to the new sample project. This will make the skin available to the application. To use the skin we have to add a skin to the application like we did to create the skin project. The difference is that we now choose the shared skin as the base skin

Creating a new page and adding a button and/or a link to the page we see the new style introduced by the ‘sharedskin’

So, the shared skin is working. Well, yes, but what about the images we added to the ‘sharedskin’?

Let’s try to add one to the button. In the property editor, we select the icon property of the button and click ‘Edit’ to get

However, we don’t see any image in the whole project. As we know where we put the images (or we can look into the sharedskinadflib) we can just add the path to the image like ‘skins/sharedskin/adf/images/home.png’ and we see the image

Running the application we get the page with the button but don’t see the image

Using DeveloperTools we see that the resource couldn’t be found. Inspecting the button element we see

The path to the image is not found 😦

If we change the address of the image to ‘/adf/images/home.png’ to use the resource servlet we still get an error

The reason is that the resource servlet expects the resources in a different path inside the jar. Every resource which should be read from a jar should be in a folder named ‘META-INF’.

The ADF library did not put the images into the META-INF folder

The problem is that we can’t change the layout of the ADF Library. When you create an ADF Library there is no option to make any changes to the content of the jar.

The conclusion is that using a skin in an ADF Library is problematic if there are other resources which you need to share.

To be continued…

In the final part 2 of the series, we see how the skin can be shared with other applications.