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GWT vs Vaadin: What are the differences?


In this article, we will explore the key differences between GWT (Google Web Toolkit) and Vaadin, two popular frameworks used for building web applications. These frameworks provide developers with different approaches and features to create web UIs and improve productivity.

  1. Compilation vs. Rendering: GWT follows a compilation-based approach where the Java code is compiled into optimized JavaScript code, which is then executed in the browser. On the other hand, Vaadin follows a rendering-based approach where the UI components are rendered on the server-side and then transferred as HTML to the client-side browser. This allows Vaadin to have a more flexible and dynamic user interface.

  2. Language Choice: GWT requires developers to write code in Java, which is then compiled into JavaScript. This can be advantageous for Java developers who prefer working with a familiar language. In contrast, Vaadin supports multiple programming languages, including Java, Kotlin, and TypeScript, giving developers more flexibility and language choice.

  3. UI Components: GWT provides a wide range of UI components, such as buttons, panels, and tables, which can be customized and styled using CSS. Vaadin, on the other hand, offers a rich set of pre-built, ready-to-use UI components, including navigation menus, grids, and form controls. These components follow the Material Design guidelines, providing a modern and consistent look and feel out of the box.

  4. Event Handling: GWT uses a traditional event-driven programming model, where developers manually handle events raised by UI components. This can be more low-level and require more code to handle events and manage UI updates. In contrast, Vaadin abstracts away the event handling by providing a higher-level programming model. Developers can use data binding and declarative event handling, reducing boilerplate code and making it easier to update UIs.

  5. Client-Server Communication: GWT communicates with the server using Remote Procedure Call (RPC) or RequestFactory, where data is serialized and sent over the network. Vaadin, on the other hand, uses a WebSocket-based communication protocol, enabling real-time and bi-directional communication between the server and the client. This allows applications built with Vaadin to have a more interactive and responsive user experience.

  6. Tooling and Ecosystem: GWT has a mature tooling ecosystem with integrated development environments (IDEs) like Eclipse and IntelliJ IDEA, as well as a large number of plugins and libraries. Vaadin, although also having good tooling support and IDE plugins, has a more streamlined and opinionated ecosystem. It provides a comprehensive set of tools, such as the Vaadin Designer for visual UI building and the Vaadin Flow framework for server-side development.

In summary, GWT and Vaadin have different approaches to web application development. GWT focuses on compilation-based Java-to-JavaScript conversion, while Vaadin follows a rendering-based approach. GWT uses Java as the primary language, while Vaadin supports multiple languages. Vaadin offers a richer set of pre-built UI components and a higher-level programming model, simplifying event handling and UI updates. Vaadin also provides real-time communication with the server through WebSockets. Both frameworks have a mature tooling ecosystem, but Vaadin offers more opinionated tools for streamlined development.

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        Paid for more features

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      What is GWT?

      It is a development toolkit for building and optimizing complex browser-based applications. Its goal is to enable productive development of high-performance web applications without the developer having to be an expert in browser quirks, XMLHttpRequest, and JavaScript.

      What is Vaadin?

      It is the fastest way to build web applications in Java. It automates the communication between your server and the browser and gives you a high-level component API for all Vaadin components

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      What companies use GWT?
      What companies use Vaadin?
      See which teams inside your own company are using GWT or Vaadin.
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