Java Platform, Enterprise Edition (Java EE) 8
The Java EE Tutorial

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The JavaServer Faces navigation model makes it easy to define page navigation and to handle any additional processing that is needed to choose the sequence in which pages are loaded.

In JavaServer Faces technology, navigation is a set of rules for choosing the next page or view to be displayed after an application action, such as when a button or link is clicked.

Navigation can be implicit or user-defined. Implicit navigation comes into play when user-defined navigation rules are not configured in the application configuration resource files.

When you add a component such as a commandButton to a Facelets page, and assign another page as the value for its action property, the default navigation handler will try to match a suitable page within the application implicitly. In the following example, the default navigation handler will try to locate a page named response.xhtml within the application and navigate to it:

<h:commandButton value="submit" action="response">

User-defined navigation rules are declared in zero or more application configuration resource files, such as faces-config.xml, by using a set of XML elements. The default structure of a navigation rule is as follows:


User-defined navigation is handled as follows.

  • Define the rules in the application configuration resource file.

  • Refer to an outcome String from the button or link component’s action attribute. This outcome String is used by the JavaServer Faces implementation to select the navigation rule.

Here is an example navigation rule:


This rule states that when a command component (such as an h:commandButton or an h:commandLink) on greeting.xhtml is activated, the application will navigate from the greeting.xhtml page to the response.xhtml page if the outcome referenced by the button component’s tag is success. Here is an h:commandButton tag from greeting.xhtml that would specify a logical outcome of success:

<h:commandButton id="submit" value="Submit" action="success"/>

As the example demonstrates, each navigation-rule element defines how to get from one page (specified in the from-view-id element) to the other pages of the application. The navigation-rule elements can contain any number of navigation-case elements, each of which defines the page to open next (defined by to-view-id) based on a logical outcome (defined by from-outcome).

In more complicated applications, the logical outcome can also come from the return value of an action method in a managed bean. This method performs some processing to determine the outcome. For example, the method can check whether the password the user entered on the page matches the one on file. If it does, the method might return success; otherwise, it might return failure. An outcome of failure might result in the logon page being reloaded. An outcome of success might cause the page displaying the user’s credit card activity to open. If you want the outcome to be returned by a method on a bean, you must refer to the method using a method expression with the action attribute, as shown by this example:

<h:commandButton id="submit" value="Submit"
                 action="#{cashierBean.submit}" />

When the user clicks the button represented by this tag, the corresponding component generates an action event. This event is handled by the default javax.faces.event.ActionListener instance, which calls the action method referenced by the component that triggered the event. The action method returns a logical outcome to the action listener.

The listener passes the logical outcome and a reference to the action method that produced the outcome to the default javax.faces.application.NavigationHandler. The NavigationHandler selects the page to display next by matching the outcome or the action method reference against the navigation rules in the application configuration resource file by the following process.

  1. The NavigationHandler selects the navigation rule that matches the page currently displayed.

  2. It matches the outcome or the action method reference that it received from the default javax.faces.event.ActionListener with those defined by the navigation cases.

  3. It tries to match both the method reference and the outcome against the same navigation case.

  4. If the previous step fails, the navigation handler attempts to match the outcome.

  5. Finally, the navigation handler attempts to match the action method reference if the previous two attempts failed.

  6. If no navigation case is matched, it displays the same view again.

When the NavigationHandler achieves a match, the Render Response phase begins. During this phase, the page selected by the NavigationHandler will be rendered.

The Duke’s Tutoring case study example application uses navigation rules in the business methods that handle creating, editing, and deleting the users of the application. For example, the form for creating a student has the following h:commandButton tag:

<h:commandButton id="submit"

The action event calls the dukestutoring.ejb.AdminBean.createStudent method:

public String createStudent(Student student) {
    return "createdStudent";

The return value of createdStudent has a corresponding navigation case in the faces-config.xml configuration file:


After the student is created, the user is returned to the Administration index page.

For more information on how to define navigation rules, see Configuring Navigation Rules.

For more information on how to implement action methods to handle navigation, see Writing a Method to Handle an Action Event.

For more information on how to reference outcomes or action methods from component tags, see Referencing a Method That Performs Navigation.

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