Understanding the Apache Wicket basics

Apache Wicket is a component web framework written in Java and it provides a cool structure to design your object-oriented projects. However, it is not something very easy to learn. So, you will have to make an effort and practice in order to understand its basics. After that, everything becomes easier and you will see how you can design and develop a good object-oriented software with Java for web.

This is an on going project to learn the concepts of this framework and you can follow my Github in order to see the source code and read my annotations there.

Getting started

It is really easy to start. Go to Wicket’s Home Page and follow the instructions to generate a project by maven archetype. (I assume that you know maven). The command line I’ve used for this purpose is:

mvn archetype:generate -DarchetypeGroupId=org.apache.wicket -DarchetypeArtifactId=wicket-archetype-quickstart -DarchetypeVersion=7.3.0 -DgroupId=com.mycompany -DartifactId=myproject -DarchetypeRepository=https://repository.apache.org/ -DinteractiveMode=false

General Wicket Configuration

To configure wicket you need to extend a class called WebApplication (org.apache.wicket.protocol.http.WebApplication) and override its methods. Your WebApplication class will looks like this:

public class WicketApplication extends WebApplication {
* @see org.apache.wicket.Application#getHomePage()
public Class<? extends WebPage> getHomePage() {
return MainTemplate.class;
* @see org.apache.wicket.Application#init()
public void init() {

At this first moment, you will need to override two methods:

  • getHomePage() -> As its name says, it will define the HomePage class.
  • init() -> Inside this method we can define several settings of wicket like as:


  • Strategy to set up the markup id generator using getMarkupSettings().setMarkupIdGenerator(YOUR_STRATEGY). To define your own strategy you need to implement IMarkupIdGenerator interface. The default class for this purpose is DefaultMarkupIdGenerator class;


  • Strategies to serialize wicket pages. Wicket has two levels to serialize objects (cache and page store file) and its default serialization options. Nevertheless, we can use the wicketstuff project to modify it. You can use these libraries Fast and Kryo;
  • Use getStoreSettings().setMaxSizePerSession(Bytes.kilobytes(PAGE_FILE_SIZE)) to set the maximum size of page instances saved into store file; (Disk)
  • Use getStoreSettings().setInmemoryCacheSize(IN_MEMORY_SIZE) to set the maximum number of page instances saved into application and session scoped cache. (In memory)


  • PageExpiration occurs when we try to access a page id that is not inside a session and it is expired. To set a custom page when view expire just set the method getApplicationSettings().setPageExpiredErrorPage(PageExpiredErrorPage.class). If you need to create a custom page, extends AbstractErrorPage and create your own error page.
  • InternalErrorPage, In DEVELOPEMENT mode the default error page is ExceptionErrorPage.class and in DEPLOYMENT mode it is InternalErrorPage.class. It is possible to change it extending AbstractErrorPage in order to create your own internal error page. After that, use getApplicationSettings().setInternalErrorPage(YourErrorPage.class) to inform wicket the new error page.

RequestCycleListener and SessionListener

  • RequestCycleListener is used to interact with wicket’s request life cycle. So, you can implement the interface IRequestCycleListener in order to override its hook methods: onBeginRequest(), onEndRequest(), onDetach(). You can define listeners using the method getRequestCycleListeners().add(myListener).
  • onBeginRequest(), called when the RequestCycle is about to start handling the request.
  • onEndRequest(), called when the RequestCycle has finished to handle the request.
  • onDetach(), called after the request handling has completed and the RequestCycle is about to be detached from its thread. The default implementation invokes detach() on the current session.
  • SessionListener is used to interact with wicket’s life cycle. Its usage is similar to RequestCycleListener, you just have to implement ISessionListener in order to override its hook methods: onCreated(Session session), onUnbound(String sessionId).
  • onCreated(Session session), called when a new instance of session is created.
  • onUnbound(String sessionId), informs the listener that session with specific id has been unbound.
  • ExceptionSettings, you can define whether wicket will show an unexpected exception page or not using getExceptionSettings().setUnexpectedExceptionDisplay(…) method.
  • ExceptionSettings.SHOW_EXCEPTION_PAGE, show the default developer page.
  • ExceptionSettings.SHOW_INTERNAL_ERROR_PAGE, show internal error page.
  • ExceptionSettings.SHOW_NO_EXCEPTION_PAGE, show no exception page when an unexpected exception is thrown.
  • It is possible to override getExceptionMapperProvider() in order to use custom mapper exception.
  • To handle ajax errors, wicket will render the configured error page by default. If you want to handle it on javascript onFailure callback it is necessary add this setting in getExceptionSettings().setAjaxErrorHandlingStrategy(ExceptionSettings.AjaxErrorStrategy.INVOKE_FAILURE_HANDLER);

Wicket Life Cycle Methods

Everything you work on wicket is a component (e.g. Labels, WebPage, Panel), keep that in your mind. So, you should take a look at org.apache.wicket.Component in order to think that every single label you work with is a component and it has its own life cycle methods callbacks. Let’s look a WebPage class in order to see the life cycle callback methods:

public class MainTemplate extends WebPage {
    // Life cycle methods
protected void onInitialize() {
// Code here
protected void onConfigure() {
// Code here
protected void onBeforeRender() {
// Code here
protected void onComponentTag(ComponentTag tag) {
// Code here
public void onComponentTagBody(MarkupStream markupStream,
ComponentTag openTag) {
super.onComponentTagBody(markupStream, openTag);
// Code here
protected void onRemove() {
// Code here

Let’s analyze and understand the main characteristics of each one of the hook methods:


  • Need to call super.onInitialize() usually as the first instruction;
  • Performed at the beginning of the component life cycle;
  • Can safely access getParent() or getPage() methods. (It is necessary to use these methods if you need to access page components);
  • It is a special contructor where we can execute a custom initialization of our component. (Remember that everything is a component);
  • Throw IllegalStateException if the super.onInitialize() not called;


  • It is a good point to manage the component states such as its visibility or enabled state;
  • Called before the render phase starts;
  • Use this method to change component’s state instead of override isVisible() or isEnabled();


  • Don’t use this method to change component’s state because it won’t be invoked if component’s visibility is setted to false;
  • Called before component starts its rendering phase;
  • Last chance to change its children hierarchy;
  • Right place to add and remove children components;
  • super.onBeforeRender() must be called at the end of the method body in order to affect our customization;
  • Throw IllegaStateException if the super.onBeforeRender() not called;


  • It is called to process component tag;
  • We can manipulate the component through tag argument (Adding/Removing attributes with put, remove, setName);
  • As onInitialize it needs to be called as the first instruction;
  • To reuse, consider use “behavior” in place of this hook(callback) method.


  • It’s used to render a custom body under specific conditions. So, if we want to change the tag body, we should use this hook method;
  • Only call super.onComponentTagBody() when we want to preserve the standard rendering mechanism.


  • Should call the super.onRemove() on the last line of this overriding;
  • Since a component has been removed, we are free to add it again to the same container or a different one;
  • onReAdd() is called every time a component has been removed.

Okay, there are a lot of information until now just about configuration and components abstraction of the framework! You can see all the source code and further annotations at the following link.

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