Archive for September, 2010

Dynamic Forms with Map-backed ActionForms in Struts 1

September 14, 2010 4 comments

A project that I work on uses Struts 1 and I came across a problem where I intended to create a page that could have any number of text fields (number of fields would be increased by a button click). The idea was to have a way to have name – value text input boxes whose content would be saved in a properties database table when the form was submitted. After some blind google searches I came across “Map-backed” and “List-backed” properties in struts. This write-up is a summary of using Map-backed properties to achieve that goal. This article does not show how to save the values in the database however… it just logs the values received on the server.

As a first step we will create a blank Struts application with maven. Look at this article to create a blank application.
The next step is to create a page that will have our dynamic form. Here is the page(dynamicTextEntry.jsp)..

<%@ taglib uri="" prefix="bean" %>
<%@ taglib uri="" prefix="html" %>
<%@ taglib uri="" prefix="logic" %>

<script type="text/javascript">
	function add(){
		var element1 = document.createElement("input");
		var element2 = document.createElement("input");
		var elementCount = parseInt(document.getElementById("count").value);

		element1.setAttribute("value","Enter Name");
		element1.setAttribute("name","value(name"+ elementCount +")");

		element2.setAttribute("value","Enter Value");
		element2.setAttribute("name","value(value"+ elementCount +")");

		var spanBody = document.getElementById("textBoxes");
		var breakElement = document.createElement('br');
		document.getElementById("count").value = elementCount + parseInt(1);
<title>Dynamic Entry Form</title>
<body bgcolor="white">

<html:form action="" >
<html:hidden property="count" styleId="count" value="0"/>
<input type="button" value="Add Field (+)" onclick="add()"/>
<span id="textBoxes"></span>

<html:submit property="submit"> Submit</html:submit>


We will create two actions in struts-config.xml as follows… the action class is shown later…

            <forward name="success" path="/pages/success.jsp"/>

We will also add form bean to struts-config.xml

<form-bean name="dyamicTextEntryForm" type="com.wordpress.codesilo.model.DyamicTextEntryForm"></form-bean>

The action class is as follows…

public class SetDynamicTextEntryAction extends Action {

	public ActionForward execute(ActionMapping mapping, ActionForm form,
			HttpServletRequest request, HttpServletResponse response)
			throws Exception {
		DyamicTextEntryForm dynform = (DyamicTextEntryForm)form;
		Map dynformValues = dynform.getValues();
		int count = dynformValues.size()/2;
		System.out.println("Map Size: " + dynformValues.size());
		for(int i =0; i<count ; i++){
			String name = (String)dynformValues.get("name"+i);
			String value = (String)dynformValues.get("value"+i);
			System.out.println("Name:" + name + " Value:" + value);
		return mapping.findForward("success");

The form is as follows…

public class DyamicTextEntryForm extends ActionForm {

	private final Map values = new HashMap();
	private int count;
	public int getCount() {
		return count;

	public void setCount(int count) {
		this.count = count;

	public Map getValues(){
		return values;
	public void setValue(String key, Object value){
		values.put(key, value);
	public Object getValue(String key){
		return values.get(key);

Add a success page that is forwarded to once the form is submitted and we are ready to try out the code.
The page looks as follows… (Every time to click the add button a new pair of text boxes are added)
When we add/change text in the boxes and click submit, the values entered in the text boxes are displayed in the console.

The javascript in the jsp adds text boxes to the existing dom in pairs. The elements added would look like the following when rendered in HTML

<input type="text" value="Enter Name" name="value(name0)">
<input type="text" value="Enter Value" name="value(value0)">

Every time the button is clicked the count increments and new text boxes are added. So, on the second click the following elements are added…

<input type="text" value="Enter Name" name="value(name1)">
<input type="text" value="Enter Value" name="value(value1)">

Once the form is submitted, the setValue(String key, Object value) on the form is called for each of these text boxes. The key will be the names we provide (name0, value0, name1, value1 etc) and the value is the value from the text boxes.

Rest is self explanatory. 🙂