WebWork and meaningful URLs

Personal pet peeve: meaningful URLs (which tonight I found out go by many names: pretty URLs, RESTian URLs, SES URLs, hackable URLs, etc…). At work, we use WebWork extensively but up until this point we haven’t made an effort to create meaningful URL’s. As with any well designed framework, it turns out that there are a couple of ways you can create meaningful URL’s, with different levels of meaningfulness.

Version 2.2 of WebWork introduced the ActionMapper interface and a class called RestfulActionMapper, which gives you the ability to create URLs that might look something like this:


instead of the more common:


The nice thing about the RestfulActionMapper implementation is that you don’t have to write any code to parse the URL: you set up your WebWork actions with the appropriate setters and the RestfulActionMapper handles the rest. The downside is that this still isn’t really a truly hackable URL. For example, although this URL:


and this URL:


would probably work, they don’t really make sense. Why are ‘keyword’ and ‘category’ hanging around at the end? Both of the words are extra information required by the implementation that don’t add any value to the user.

The second way you can create meaningful URLs is by creating your own ActionMapper. You can get a good start by checking out the source code for the DefaultActionMapper and the RestfulActionMapper. To set properties on your action instances, you’ll want to create a HashMap,, add the appropriate properties from your URL to the map and then either create and return a new ActionMapping using the action name and map or call the setParams() method on an existing mapping. The end result is that you should be able to create and use meaningful URL that looks like this:


Also of note:

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