Wednesday Feb 29, 2012

How-to learn ADF Skinning

Recently I observed an increase of questions on OTN and Oracle internal that aim for applying CSS on the generated HTML output of an ADF Faces application. Surely, skinning in ADF is not the same as using CSS in tools like Dreamweaver, but it is the proper way of applying custom images and colors to ADF Faces applications. The biggest risk in styling the generated ADF Faces HTML output with CSS is change in the renderer classes. Oracle constantly works on improving its ADF Faces components, for example using HTML 5 to replace Flash and DHTML on some of the ADF Faces components. If you skinned applications on the generated output, then with each of the changes Oracle applies, your custom styles will break.

ADF sinning applies style sheet definitions to style classes at runtime. In contrast to direct output styling, the style classes are dynamically created and derived from the ADF Faces skin selectors. The component developer ensures that the style classes are always set to the correct location in the generated component output, ensuring that changes last across Oracle JDeveloper versions and component changes. Though I can't save you from learning, I can help you with pointers to sources you want to be aware of:

ADF skinning is documented in the Oracle® Fusion Middleware Web User Interface Developer's Guide for Oracle Application Development Framework

http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E21764_01/web.1111/b31973/af_skin.htm#BAJFEFCJ

An ADF insider recording exists that explains skinning in a 40 minute video. Though this recording doesn't show the new skin editor, you learn a about how skinning works, how you dynamically detect skins at runtime and how you debug skins using FireBug in FireFox.

http://download.oracle.com/otn_hosted_doc/jdeveloper/11gdemos/adf-insider-skinning/adf-insider-skinning.html

As mentioned, a visual skin editor exists that you can use in its stand-alone edition for JDeveloper 11g R1 (11.1.1.4, 11.1.1.5) applications and integrated in JDeveloper 11g R2. An article that explains working with the skin editor and a recommend workflow is published here

http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/issue-archive/2011/11-nov/o61adf-512006.html

To download the stand alone skin editor (JDeveloper 11g R2 has it integrated and no extra download is required), use the link below

http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/developer-tools/adf/downloads/index.html

To learn about the stand alone and the integrate skin editor, refer to the Oracle® Fusion Middleware Skin Editor User's Guide for Oracle Application Development Framework, which you can access online from

http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E16162_01/user.1112/e17456/toc.htm

To try the skin editor on a JDeveloper 11g R2 sample, you can run through the hands-on exercise exposed as part of the Oracle learning library.

http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E18941_01/tutorials/jdtut_11r2_83/jdtut_11r2_83.html

A video recording of how to use the skin editor can be found here

https://blogs.oracle.com/shay/entry/adf_faces_skin_editor_how

 And finally, a list of all skin selectors and ADF Faces components can be read up in the Oracle Fusion Middleware Tag Reference for Oracle ADF Faces Skin Selectors

http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E21764_01/apirefs.1111/e15862/toc.htm

This document is a well written by the ADF Faces component developers and provides information that you don't find in other documentation. If you worked through all of this, Skinning should no longer be a problem for you.

Wednesday Jun 08, 2011

If the stand alone Oracle Skin Editor does not start on Windows

One of the new features in Oracle JDeveloper 11.1.2 is the ADF Faces Skin Editor for building pluggable application look and feels declaratively. However, the ADF Faces Skin Editor is also available in a stand-alone version for developers building skins for existing applications built with previous versions of Oracle JDeveloper 11g and for web designers that are tasked with building a look and feel but don't need the full Oracle JDeveloper 11g installed.

http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/developer-tools/adf/downloads/index.html

The ADF Faces Skin Editor comes in a ZIP file that you extract on your local machine. The parent folder the software unzips itself into is called skineditor and developers most likely feel attempted to change the folder name to include additional information like the version number (11.1.2.0.0) or the vendor (Oracle). However, an issue with the skin editor is that it requires the parent folder name to be skineditor. It only allows the writing to be in mixed case, but no change to the name itself.

When changing the parent folder name, for example skineditor_11_1_2_00, then, when starting the skin editor, the Splash Screen is shown but the editor itself does not come up, though the process entry for the skineditor64W.exe is visible in the Windows Task Manager.

Note that the reason for this behavior is that skineditor, which becomes the root folder of the software after unzipping it, is not considered to be the installation folder. The skineditor folder is considered to be part of the software and thus cannot be changed. To create a meaningful name for the folder hosting the skin editor software, unzip the software into an installation folder you create before. This can then have version numbers in it but must not have blanks in the naming.

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The OTN Harvest blog is a summary of selected topics posted on the OTN Oracle JDeveloper forum.



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