Application Architecture

This high-level overview describes the technologies that make up Jive.

Access Points

User Interface

The user interface is rendered from FreeMarker, Soy, or JavaServer Pages that are essentially templates to display user and content data. Nearly every major element of the user interface is based on a template, which allows developers to cleanly separate presentation from business logic. Here's a description of the pieces:

  • Cascading style sheets (CSS). CSS styles are used in Soy, FreeMarker, and JavaServer Pages files to provide positioning of UI elements, colors, text styles, and more.
  • JavaScript. JavaScript is used to enable certain effects, such as displaying popups and dragging widgets.
  • Soy templates (also known as Closure Templates) are used for the main user interface.
  • FreeMarker template (FTL) files. FreeMarker has historically been used for the main user interface. However, many components have been migrated to use Soy templates starting with v5.0. FreeMarker is an open source project hosted by SourceForge.
  • JavaServer Pages (JSP) files. JSP is used to render the Admin Console user interface. JSP was created and is maintained by Sun Microsystems.

Supported Browsers

For the latest information on supported browsers, see Supported Browsers.


People using the application can customize or personalize the UI by using widgets. Developers can customize the user interface through either themes or plugins.

  • Widgets are views on content that people can use to create customized versions of community pages. For example, a widget can display recently changed content or the results of an RSS subscription. For more on widgets, see Designing Pages with Widgets.
  • In a theme, you use custom versions of FreeMarker files and CSS style rules to replace those included. You group customized files into a theme, then map the theme to a part of the application, such as a space or UI reached via a particular URL. You can also merely replace certain words in the user interface, such as "article" for "document." You can't include your own Java code in a theme. For more on developing themes, see the section on themes in this document.
  • In a plugin, you can customize the UI by including new commands in existing user interface pages. For example, with an action plugin you can add a new link to the Actions list or a new command to the user menu bar. You can also develop new widgets in a plugin.           


Feeds are a data format through which people can keep up without needing to view the application itself. People subscribing to feeds can view the feed information as a list of content in a feed reader or web browser.


A community can send or receive email. It sends email when people choose to receive notifications on particular content, such as when a document has been edited or a discussion has received a new reply.

People can send email to the application by replying to notification messages. For example, if someone receives a notification that a discussion has gotten a new reply, they can reply to the notification message, type their own response, then send the email to have their typed response posted as a new reply to the discussion.

The application can also send email for common reasons, such as to follow up on a request to change a password.

Web Services

Other applications can access functionality using web services. Most of the application's features are available this way, although all new development has used the REST style, and it is recommended for customizations.

The application supports web services in REST and SOAP styles. Support for these is provided through Apache CXF, an open source framework.

Flow Between UI and Logic

The application is based in part on what's known as a model-view-controller (MVC) framework. In MVC, a controller layer manages interactions between what people do in the user interface (the view) and how the application's logic (the model) responds. The controller layer is provided by Apache Struts (the view is FreeMarker or JavaServer Pages, while the model is implemented as Java classes). Application logic responds to the user interface through Struts actions that return results that depend on the nature of the request. Struts is an open source framework.


Developers can write their own Struts actions, usually accompanying user interface additions. Actions are written as plugins.          

Application Logic

Application logic is implemented as Java classes. This includes classes for representing the various containers (such as projects) and content types (such as documents), as well as managers for handling them, data access objects for interacting with the database, and classes to support services such as web services, feeds, and so on.

Developers can learn more about the classes exposed as part of the API by taking at look at the Javadoc.

Dependency Configuration

Java classes rely on many classes and libraries provided either by Jive or by third parties. These dependencies are resolved at run time by using a model called inversion of control, or IOC. IOC is supported by the Spring framework. Through the Spring framework, developers can replace default dependencies with their own implementations. For example, a developer could replace a particular security framework with their own.

Spring is an open source framework.

Content Search

For searches of content inside the community, the application uses the Apache Lucene search engine. Lucene is an open source tool.

External Search

When searching content outside the community, the application uses OpenSearch. Other applications that expose their search engines via OpenSearch can be included in community searches by an administrator.


Caching is provided by Voldemort.


jgroups provides clustering subsystems.

Database Access

The application stores data about content and users in its database. It can also be configured to use another data source, such as an LDAP database, to authenticate user accounts when people log in.

Application Database

The application database is designed to store content data (such as content, properties for widgets, application settings, and so on) as well as user data (including the contents of user profiles). The application can optionally use its own database to store credentials for authenticating users.

Analytics Database

Using analytics (an optional module), community managers can capture and analyze data about their community's use. This database is modeled as a star schema of the sort used by other applications that support data warehousing. For more information, see Analytics Database Schema or the Analytics Data Model.

User Data

When installing Jive, you can specify that it should use an external data store for getting the list of users and groups who will be using the application. The application can use this data store to authenticate people when they log in. By default, LDAP and Active Directory are supported.

Note: Even if the application is using an external data store for authentication, information about users (profile information and permissions, for example) will be kept in the application database.


Developers can add tables to the application database and access them from within plugin code.


Authentication and authorization are based on the Spring Security (formerly Acegi) framework.


Developers can customize the security framework by adding J2EE filters through a plugin.

Customization Points

Developers can customize the application, changing its look and feel, adding new widgets or macros, even adding new features. Most of this kind of work is done by developing a plugin that's based on the same technologies that the application itself uses.


With themes, you can restyle the user interface. In this way you can add a look and feel that identifies the community with your brand characteristics (logo, colors, and so on). You can also restyle particular parts of the application, such as to give certain kinds of content or certain spaces their own character. Themes don't require a plugin.

When developing themes, you can take one of three approaches: basic changes through the UI, minor changes to code by Customizing UI with the Theme Resource Kit, and Advanced Themes Topics.


A plugin is the most common way to customize and extend the application.           


Widgets are views on content with which people can customize certain pages. Jive includes many widgets by default, but developers can build their own using the plugin framework.


Building an action plugin is one way to add more involved functionality. For example, a custom action could be behind a feature through which people could choose a number of documents to package into a single PDF file.

Custom Authentication Provider

A custom authentication provider knows how to authenticate people against a data source that isn't supported by default (in other words, that isn't the Clearspace database, LDAP, or Active Directory).

Server Components

Application Server

Jive runs on Apache Tomcat. For more on this, see system requirements.

Database Servers

The system requirements provide details about the supported DBMSes.