AJAX-based Navigation - MVC approach

When switching between different functions in paged-based navigation, you find that only central area's content is different among those pages and other three areas (header, sidebar, and footer) contain identical content. But in page-based navigation, a browser has to reload all contents no matter they are identical to previous page when switching to another function. With AJAX's help, ZK allows you to implement another navigation way that only updates necessary part of a page instead of reloading the whole page.

AJAX-based Navigation

The easiest way to implement AJAX-based navigation is to change Include component's src attribute. It can change only partial content (inside the Include) of an page instead of redirecting to another page to achieve the navigation purpose. This navigation way switches functions by only replacing a group of components instead of whole page and therefore has faster response than page-based one. But it doesn't change a browser's URL when each time switching to a different function. However, if you want users can keep track of different functions with bookmark, please refer to Browser History Management.

We will demonstrate AJAX-based navigation with the same layout example.

Below is the index page, its content is nearly the same as the index page of page based example except it replaces all <include> with <apply>.


<?link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="/style.css"?>
    <borderlayout hflex="1" vflex="1" apply="org.zkoss.essentials.chapter6.ajaxbased.BookmarkChangeController">
        <north height="100px" border="none" >
            <apply templateURI="/chapter3/banner.zul"/>
        <west width="260px" border="none" collapsible="true" splittable="true" minsize="300">
            <apply templateURI="/chapter6/ajaxbased/sidebar.zul"/>
        <center id="mainContent" autoscroll="true" border="none">
            <apply templateURI="/chapter6/ajaxbased/mainContent.zul"/>
        <south height="50px" border="none">
            <apply templateURI="/chapter3/footer.zul"/>

Replace <include> with <apply>

As we don't need to dynamically change the path of those 3 areas (banner, side bar, footer), using <apply> is a better choice than <include>. Because <apply> create neither an extra <div> enclosin its content nor a id space. It's the main strength of using a shadow component that doesn't create a real component.


    <include id="mainInclude"  src="/chapter6/ajaxbased/home.zul"/>
  • Line 2: We give the component id for we can find it later with ZK selector.

This navigation is mainly implemented by changing the src attribute of the Include component to switch between different zul pages so that it only reloads included components without affecting other areas . We still need to initialize sidebar configuration:

AJAX-based navigation's sidebar configuration

public class SidebarPageConfigAjaxbasedImpl implements SidebarPageConfig{

    HashMap<String,SidebarPage> pageMap = new LinkedHashMap<String,SidebarPage>();
    public SidebarPageConfigAjaxbasedImpl(){
        pageMap.put("zk",new SidebarPage("zk","www.zkoss.org","/imgs/site.png","http://www.zkoss.org/"));
        pageMap.put("demo",new SidebarPage("demo","ZK Demo","/imgs/demo.png","http://www.zkoss.org/zkdemo"));
        pageMap.put("devref",new SidebarPage("devref","ZK Developer Reference","/imgs/doc.png","http://books.zkoss.org/wiki/ZK_Developer's_Reference"));

        pageMap.put("fn1",new SidebarPage("fn1","Profile (MVC)","/imgs/fn.png","/chapter3/profile-mvc.zul"));
        pageMap.put("fn2",new SidebarPage("fn2","Profile (MVVM)","/imgs/fn.png","/chapter3/profile-mvvm.zul"));
        pageMap.put("fn3",new SidebarPage("fn3","Todo List (MVC)","/imgs/fn.png","/chapter4/todolist-mvc.zul"));
        pageMap.put("fn4",new SidebarPage("fn4","Todo List (MVVM)","/imgs/fn.png","/chapter4/todolist-mvvm.zul"));
  • Line 9 ~ 12: Because we only need those pages that doesn't have header, sidebar, and footer, we can re-use those pages written in previous chapters.

In the sidebar controller, we get the Include component and change its src according to the menu item's URL.

Controller for AJAX-based navigation

public class SidebarAjaxbasedController extends SelectorComposer<Component>{

    Grid sidebar;

    //wire service
    SidebarPageConfig pageConfig = new SidebarPageConfigAjaxbasedImpl();

    public void doAfterCompose(Component comp) throws Exception{

        //to initial view after view constructed.
        Rows rows = sidebar.getRows();

        for(SidebarPage page:pageConfig.getPages()){
            Row row = constructSidebarRow(page.getName(),page.getLabel(),page.getIconUri(),page.getUri());

    private Row constructSidebarRow(final String name,String label, String imageSrc, final String locationUri) {

        //construct component and hierarchy
        Row row = new Row();
        Image image = new Image(imageSrc);
        Label lab = new Label(label);


        //set style attribute

        //new and register listener for events
        EventListener<Event> onActionListener = new SerializableEventListener<Event>(){
            private static final long serialVersionUID = 1L;

            public void onEvent(Event event) throws Exception {
                //redirect current url to new location
                    //open a new browser tab
                    //use iterable to find the first include only
                    Include include = (Include)Selectors.iterable(sidebar.getPage(), "#mainInclude")

        row.addEventListener(Events.ON_CLICK, onActionListener);

        return row;

  • Line 46,47: Since Include is not a child component of the component that SidebarAjaxbasedController applies to, we cannot use @Wire to retrieve it. Therefore, we use Selectors.iterable() to get components with the id selector from the page. Because ZK combines included components and its parent into one ZK page.
  • Line 48: Change the src to the corresponding URL that belongs to the clicked menu item.

Visit the http://localhost:8080/zkessentials/chapter6/ajaxbased/index.zul to see the result.