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9.2 Returning a Non-JSF View Response

In most cases, links and submit buttons in a screen generated by a JSF view trigger a request back to the same view, so that user input can be processed by the same view as we discussed earlier. There are exceptions, though. Links may point directly to any type of resource, e.g., a regular JSP or HTML page. It's also possible that the response to a JSF view request must be generated by some other resource type than a JSF view.

9.2.1 Linking Non-JSF Resources

You've already seen an example of a link to a different resource than the JSF view that rendered the screen containing the view, namely the link to the first preferences view in the menu area view. The logout link is another example, and in links to a regular JSP page instead of a JSF view:

[<h:outputLink value="../../logout.jsp">

  <h:outputText value="Logout" />


The logout.jsp page is located in the top directory for the application, so that accessing this page doesn't trigger the authentication constraint declared for all resources in the expense directory; it wouldn't make sense to have to login if the session has timed out just to be able to logout. I therefore specify the path as a relative path to the file located two directories up from the file with the link. An alternative is to use a JSF EL expression that adds the context path for the application to a context-relative path so that it makes sense to the browser:



  <h:outputText value="Logout" />


The JSF EL expression evaluates to the application context path, e.g., /jsfbook if you use the default for the sample application, so the HTML link's href attribute is rendered with the value /jsfbook/logout.jsp. It would, of course, be better if the link renderer added the context-path automatically for a context-relative path, but it slipped through the cracks for the JSF 1.0 specification. Hopefully it will be corrected in a future release.

The logout JSP page simply invalidates (terminates) the session and redirects to the index page with links to all book examples:

<%@ taglib prefix="c" uri="" %>

<% session.invalidate( ); %>

<c:redirect url="/index.html"/>

9.2.2 Processing JSF Input and Generating a Non-JSF Response

If user input must be processed before the response is rendered using some other type of resource than a JSF view, you can do so in a JSF action method or an action event listener. When the input is processed, render the response any way you like, and just tell JSF that a response has already been sent to prevent it from trying to generate a response from the view.

Let's say that you have a JSF view containing links to external resources, such as referral links to When the user clicks a link, you want to log this fact before you redirect to the book details page on—maybe to make sure their click-count is accurate. The link may be represented by a <h:commandLink> action element, like this:


  <h:commandLink action="#{logger.logJSFBookClick}">

    <h:outputText value="JavaServer Faces, Hans Bergsten (O'Reilly)" />



The <h:commandLink> action element must be nested within an <h:form> element, and it generates an HTML link element with a JavaScript event handler that submits the form when the link is clicked. What's most important in this example is that it's bound to an action method that may look like this:

public String logJSFBookClick( ) {

    // Whatever is needed to log the event


    FacesContext context = FacesContext.getCurrentInstance( );

    ExternalContext ec = context.getExternalContext( );

    try {



    catch (IOException ioe) {

        return "failure";


    context.responseComplete( );

    return "success";


The action method first does whatever it needs to do to log the fact that the link was clicked. It then generates a redirect response by obtaining the ExternalContext and calling its redirect() method. This is just one example of a possible non-JSF response. The method could generate a regular response by setting response headers and writing the body directly, or it could get hold of a RequestDispatcher and forward to a servlet or a JSP page. What really matters is that after the method has generated the response, it must call the FacesContext responseComplete( ) method. After processing all events for a phase, the JSF implementation checks to see if anyone has called this method, and if so, it ends the processing of the request without generating a response.

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