Some pages within LabKey Server use the Google Web Toolkit (GWT) to create rich UI. GWT compiles Java code into JavaScript that runs in a browser. For more information about GWT see the GWT home page.

LabKey has moved away from GWT for new development projects and is in the midst of replacing existing GWT usages. We do not recommend using it for new code.

Points of note for the existing implementations using GWT:

  • The org.labkey.api.gwt.Internal GWT module can be inherited by all other GWT modules to include tools that allow GWT clients to connect back to the LabKey server more easily.
  • There is a special incantation to integrate GWT into a web page. The org.labkey.api.view.GWTView class allows a GWT module to be incorporated in a standard LabKey web page.
    • GWTView also allows passing parameters to the GWT page. The org.labkey.api.gwt.client.PropertyUtil class can be used by the client to retrieve these properties.
  • GWT supports asynchronous calls from the client to servlets. To enforce security and the module architecture a few classes have been provided to allow these calls to go through the standard LabKey security and PageFlow mechanisms.
    • The client side org.labkey.api.gwt.client.ServiceUtil class enables client->server calls to go through a standard LabKey action implementation.
    • The server side org.labkey.api.gwt.server.BaseRemoteService class implements the servlet API but can be configured with a standard ViewContext for passing a standard LabKey url and security context.
    • Create an action in your controller that instantiates your servlet (which should extend BaseRemoteService) and calls doPost(getRequest(), getResponse()). In most cases you can simply create a subclass of org.labkey.api.action.GWTServiceAction and implement the createService() method.
    • Use ServiceUtil.configureEndpoint(service, "actionName") to configure client async service requests to go through your PageFlow action on the server.
Examples of this can be seen in the study.designer and plate.designer packages within the Study module.

The checked-in jars allow GWT modules within Labkey modules to be built automatically. Client-side classes (which can also be used on the server) are placed in a gwtsrc directory parallel to the standard src directory in the module.

While GWT source can be built automatically, effectively debugging GWT modules requires installation of the full GWT toolkit (we are using 2.5.1 currently). After installing the toolkit you can debug a page by launching GWT's custom client using the class, which runs java code rather than the cross-compiled javascript. The debug configuration is a standard java app with the following requirements:

  1. gwt-user.jar and gwt-dev.jar from your full install need to be on the runtime classpath. (Note: since we did not check in client .dll/.so files, you need to point a manually installed local copy of the GWT development kit.)
  2. The source root for your GWT code needs to be on the runtime classpath
  3. The source root for the LabKey GWT internal module needs to be on the classpath
  4. Main class is
  5. Program parameters should be something like this:
    -noserver -startupUrl "http://localhost:8080/labkey/query/home/metadataQuery.view?schemaName=issues&query.queryName=Issues" org.labkey.query.metadata.MetadataEditor
    • -noserver tells the GWT client not to launch its own private version of tomcat
    • The URL is the url you would like the GWT client to open
    • The last parameter is the module name you want to debug


For example, here is a configuration from a developer's machine. It assumes that the LabKey Server source has is at c:\labkey and that the GWT development kit has been extracted to c:\JavaAPIs\gwt-windows-2.5.1. It will work with GWT code from the MS2, Experiment, Query, List, and Study modules.

  • Main class:
  • VM parameters:
    -classpath C:/labkey/server/internal/gwtsrc;C:/labkey/server/modules/query/gwtsrc;C:/labkey/server/modules/study/gwtsrc;C:/labkey/server/modules/ms2/gwtsrc;C:/labkey/server/modules/experiment/gwtsrc;C:/JavaAPIs/gwt-2.5.1/gwt-dev.jar; C:/JavaAPIs/gwt-2.5.1/gwt-user.jar;c:/labkey/external/lib/build/gxt.jar;C:/labkey/server/modules/list/gwtsrc;C:/labkey/external/lib/server/gwt-dnd-3.2.0.jar;C:/labkey/external/lib/server/gxt-2.2.5.jar;
  • Program parameters:
    -noserver -startupUrl "http://localhost:8080/labkey/query/home/metadataQuery.view?schemaName=issues&query.queryName=Issues" org.labkey.query.metadata.MetadataEditor
  • Working directory: C:\labkey\server
  • Use classpath and JDK of module: QueryGWT
A note about upgrading to future versions of GWT: As of GWT 2.6.0 (as of this writing, the current release), GWT supports Java 7 syntax. It also stops building permutations for IE 6 and 7 by default. However, it introduces a few breaking API changes. This means that we would need to move to GXT 3.x, which is unfortunately a major upgrade and requires significant changes to our UI code that uses it.


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