Lesson: JavaBeans Concepts

The JavaBeans™ architecture is based on a component model which enables developers to create software units called components. Components are self-contained, reusable software units that can be visually assembled into composite components, applets, applications, and servlets using visual application builder tools. JavaBean components are known as beans.

A set of APIs describes a component model for a particular language. The JavaBeans API specification describes the core detailed elaboration for the JavaBeans component architecture.

Beans are dynamic in that they can be changed or customized. Through the design mode of a builder tool you can use the Properties window of the bean to customize the bean and then save (persist) your beans using visual manipulation. You can select a bean from the toolbox, drop it into a form, modify its appearance and behavior, define its interaction with other beans, and combine it and other beans into an applet, application, or a new bean.

The following list briefly describes key bean concepts.

  • Builder tools discover a bean's features (that is, its properties, methods, and events) by a process known as introspection. Beans support introspection in two ways:
    • By adhering to specific rules, known as design patterns, when naming bean features. The Introspector class examines beans for these design patterns to discover bean features. The Introspector class relies on the core reflection API. The trail The Reflection API is an excellent place to learn about reflection.
    • By explicitly providing property, method, and event information with a related bean information class. A bean information class implements the BeanInfo interface. A BeanInfo class explicitly lists those bean features that are to be exposed to application builder tools.
  • Properties are the appearance and behavior characteristics of a bean that can be changed at design time. Builder tools introspect on a bean to discover its properties and expose those properties for manipulation.

  • Beans expose properties so they can be customized at design time. Customization is supported in two ways: by using property editors, or by using more sophisticated bean customizers.

  • Beans use events to communicate with other beans. A bean that is to receive events (a listener bean) registers with the bean that fires the event (a source bean). Builder tools can examine a bean and determine which events that bean can fire (send) and which it can handle (receive).

  • Persistence enables beans to save and restore their state. After changing a bean's properties, you can save the state of the bean and restore that bean at a later time with the property changes intact. The JavaBeans architecture uses Java Object Serialization to support persistence.

  • A bean's methods are no different from Java methods, and can be called from other beans or a scripting environment. By default all public methods are exported.

Beans vary in functionality and purpose. You have probably met some of the following beans in your programming practice:

  • GUI (graphical user interface)
  • Non-visual beans, such as a spelling checker
  • Animation applet
  • Spreadsheet application

Read more from the JavaBeans Trail

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