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History Management with Bookmark

In traditional multi-page Web applications, users usually use the BACK and FORWARD button to surf around multiple pages, and bookmark them for later use. With ZK, you still can use multiple pages to represent different set of features and information, as you did in traditional Web applications.

However, it is more common for ZK applications to represent a lot of features in one desktop, which usually requires multiple Web pages in a traditional Web application. To make user's surfing easier, ZK supports the browser's history management that enables ZK applications to manage browser's history simply on the server.

The concept is simple. For each state of a desktop, you could add a so-called bookmark[1] to the browser's history. Then, the user can use the BACK and FORWARD button of the browser to switch around different bookmarks. The change of books will be sent back to the server called onBookmarkChange, and you application can switch to the corresponding accordingly.

From application's viewpoint, it takes two steps to manage the browser's history:

  1. Add a bookmark to the browser's history for each of the visited states of your desktop.
  2. Listen to the onBookmarkChange event for bookmark change, and switch the state accordingly.

  1. Each bookmark is an arbitrary string added to the browser's history.

Add Bookmarks to Browser's History

Your application has to decide what the appropriate states are to add to the browser's history. For example, in a multi-step operation, each step is a good candidate of states for adding to a browser's history, such that the user can switch around these steps by pressing BACK or FORWARD buttons.

Once you decide when to add a state to the browser's history, you can simply invoke Desktop.setBookmark(String). Notice that it is not the bookmarks that users add to the browser (aka., My Favorites in Internet Explorer).

For example, assume you want to bookmark the state when the Next button is clicked, then you do as follows.

<button label="Next" onClick='desktop.setBookmark("Step-2")'/>

If you look carefully at the URL, you will find ZK appends #Step-2 to the URL.

If you press the BACK button, you will see as follows.


Listen to onBookmarkChange and Change the State Accordingly

After adding a bookmark to the browser's history, users can then surf among these bookmarks such as pressing the BACK button to return to the previous bookmark. When the bookmark is changed, ZK will notify the application by broadcasting the onBookmarkChange event (an instance of the BookmarkEvent class) to all root components in the desktop.

Unlike traditional multi-page Web applications, you have to change the desktop's state on the server manually, when onBookmarkChange is received. ZK does nothing to allow an application to set a bookmark and notify for the bookmark change. It is the application developer's job to manipulate the desktop to reflect the state that a bookmark has represented.

To listen the onBookmarkChange event, you can add an event listener to any pages of the desktop, or to any of its root components.

<window onBookmarkChange="goto(event.bookmark)">
     void goto(String bookmark) {
         if ("Step-2".equals(bookmark)) {
             ...//create components for Step 2
         } else { //empty bookmark
             ...//create components for Step 1

Like handling any other events, you can manipulate the UI any way you want, when the onBookmarkChange event is received. It is totally up to you.

A typical approach is to use one of the createComponents methods of the Executions class. In other words, you could represent each state with one ZUML page, and then use createComponents to create all components in it when onBookmarkChange is received.

 if ("Step-2".equals(bookmark)) {
     //1. Remove components, if any, representing the previous state
     try {
     } catch (ComponentNotFoundException ex) {
         //not created yet

     //2. Creates components belonging to Step 2
     Executions.createComponents("/bk/step2.zul", self, null);


In this example, we bookmarks each tab selection.

<window id="wnd" title="Bookmark Demo" width="400px" border="normal">
         new EventListener() {
             public void onEvent(Event event) throws UiException {
                 try {
                 } catch (ComponentNotFoundException ex) {

    <tabbox id="tbox" width="100%" onSelect="desktop.bookmark =">
            <tab id="tab1" label="Tab 1"/>
            <tab id="tab2" label="Tab 2"/>
            <tab id="tab3" label="Tab 3"/>
            <tabpanel>This is panel 1</tabpanel>
            <tabpanel>This is panel 2</tabpanel>
            <tabpanel>This is panel 3</tabpanel>

Bookmarking with iframe

If a page contains one or more iframe components, it is sometimes better to bookmark the status of the iframe components too. For example, when the contained iframe was navigated to another URL, you might want to change the bookmark of the page (the container), such that you can restore to the iframe to the right content. To do this, you have to listen to the onURIChange event as follows.

<window onURIChange="desktop.bookmark = storeURI(event.getTarget(), event.getURI())">
    <iframe src="${uri_depends_on_bookmark}" forward="onURIChange"/>

The onURIChange event is sent as an instance of URIEvent.

Notice that the onURIChange event is sent only if the iframe contains another ZK page. If it contains non-ZK page, you have to handle it manually. Please refer to ZK Component Reference: iframe for more information.

Version History

Last Update : 2011/11/8

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Copyright © Potix Corporation. This article is licensed under GNU Free Documentation License.

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