Wednesday, February 12, 2014

How to debug EL in the JSF page? I'd like to watch variable values, function calls an so on. The best solution would be an eclipse plugin, but any other possibility is better than guessing "Why this expression failed to render correctly?".
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2 Answers

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Closest what you can get in JSF/Facelets is placing an  somewhere in the view:
Pressing CtrlShiftD should then show a popup window with debug information about the component tree and all available request parameters and request/view/flash/session/application scoped variables. It's basically a representation of the content of all those maps.
The hotkey is by the way configureable by hotkey attribute so that you can choose another whenever it clashes with browser default hotkeys, as it would do in Firefox; CtrlShiftD would by default show the Add bookmarks dialogue. Here's how you could make it to listen on CtrlShiftX instead:
 hotkey="x" />
You'd usually also like to hide it in non-development stage, so add a rendered condition like that:
 hotkey="x" rendered="#{facesContext.application.projectStage == 'Development'}" />
In the shown debug information, the information provided about scoped variables isn't that great as you would expect. It only shows the Object#toString() outcome of all scoped variables which defaults tocom.example.Bean@hashcode. You can't explore their properties and the values of their properties directly like as you could do in debug view of Eclipse's debugger. You'd need to implementtoString() on the class accordingly so that as much as possible relevant information is returned (if necessary, you can even let Eclipse autogenerate it by rightclick source code > Source > Generate toString()):
public String toString() {
    return String.format("Bean[prop1=%s,prop2=%s,prop3=%s]", prop1, prop2, prop3);
As to method calls, just put a breakpoint on the Java source code the usual way. Eclipse will kick in there as well when EL calls the method. If it's a managed bean, you'll also just see its properties in the Eclipse debugger.
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Finally I use normal eclipse debugger end ui:debug. –  mrzasa Dec 6 '11 at 8:09 
+1 for getting  to work (for a rather sad definition of work) –  Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Apr 3 '12 at 13:28
Hi BalusC, I was thinking of asking a similar question but it seems better to just post it here... I followed yourDebug JSF lifecycle article on your blog. Other than the debugging mechanisms you suggest here and on that article, is it possible to dive into JSF implementation source? I have a problem on my view with the tags. The rendering isn't as expected and I can give no meaning as to why it is the way it is. I was thinking of diving into JSF source. Would it make sense and if it would, would you be able to point me to a resource to get started? –  Murat Jan 9 '13 at 9:45 
@Murat: start with a breakpoint on encodeAll() method of the desired UIComponent class. –  BalusCJan 9 '13 at 10:29
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