4.8 The Presentation Layer

The presentation layer of DHIS2 is based on web modules which are assembled into a portal. This implies a modularized design where each module has its own domain, e.g. the dhis-web-reporting module deals with reports, charts, pivot tables, documents, while the dhis-web-maintenance-dataset module is responsible for data set management. The web modules are based on Struts and follow the MVC pattern [5]. The modules also follow the Maven standard for directory layout, which implies that Java classes are located in src/main/java, configuration files and other resources in src/main/resources, and templates and other web resources in src/main/webapp. All modules can be run as a standalone application.

Common Java classes, configuration files, and property files are located in the dhis-web-commons project, which is packaged as a JAR file. Common templates, style sheets and other web resources are located in the dhis-web-commons-resources project, which is packaged as a WAR file. These are closely related but are separated into two projects. The reason for this is that other modules must be able to have compile dependencies on the common Java code, which requires it to be packaged as a JAR file. For other modules to be able to access the common web resources, these must be packaged as a WAR file [6].

4.8.1 The Portal

DHIS2 uses a light-weight portal construct to assemble all web modules into one application. The portal functionality is located in the dhis-web-portal project. The portal solution is integrated with Struts, and the following section requires some prior knowledge about this framework, please refer to struts.apache.org for more information.

4.8.1.1 Module Assembly

All web modules are packaged as WAR files. The portal uses the Maven WAR plug-in to assemble the common web modules and all web modules into a single WAR file. Which modules are included in the portal can be controlled simply through the dependency section in the POM file [7] in the dhis-web-portal project. The web module WAR files will be extracted and its content merged together.

4.8.1.2 Portal Module Requirements

The portal requires the web modules to adhere to a few principles:

  • The web resources must be located in a folder src/main/webapp/<module-artifact-id > .

  • The xwork.xml configuration file must extend the dhis-web-commons.xml configuration file.

  • The action definitions in xwork.xml for a module must be in a package where the name is <module-artifact-id>, namespace is /<module-artifact-id>, and which extends the dhis-web-commons package.

  • All modules must define a default action called index .

  • The web.xml of the module must define a redirect filter, open-session-in-view filter, security filter, and the Struts FilterDispatcher [8].

  • All modules must have dependencies to the dhis-web-commons and dhis-web-commons-resources projects.

4.8.1.3 Common Look-And-Feel

Common look and feel is achieved using a back-bone Velocity template which includes a page template and a menu template defined by individual actions in the web modules. This is done by using static parameters in the Struts/Xwork xwork.xml configuration file. The action response is mapped to the back-bone template called main.vm , while static parameters called page and menu refers to the templates that should be included. This allows the web modules to display its desired content and left side menu while maintaining a common look-and-feel.