Hi, I'm in the process of evaluating different web frameworks and attempting to select one (or none) for use in our system. Our system provides "kiosk" style interactive screens over web pages that are displayed on televisions in hospitals. The input device is a multi-button pillow speaker. Currently, the applications offered over the system are extremely simplistic in nature (activating on demand videos, activating TV service, displaying hospital information). Navigation is done through large on-screen buttons, and there is no form input to speak off. I expect more complex applications to be added very gradually, but due to the user base, the input device & display device, it will be quite some time (and possibly never) until we do something extremely complex.
That being said, there is certainly a need to support very flexible look & feel that may be based on the physical location of a room or patient demographics. To date, we have been mostly handling that "brute force" with repetitive duplication of pages that live in isolated directories. Is there a web framework out there that caters more to this type of system? Should we roll or own? Is a framework overkill for this environment?
There is also a set of "medium" complexity system management tools that will be provided through web interfaces. We are a small company so there is no way we would introduce two frameworks. The choice (if any) has to optimized towards the kiosk side.
Framework discussion seems to get quite religious around here. Everyone seems to like what they like and thinks they are using the golden hammer of frameworks.
I'm afraid we still don't know enough about your application to really offer the decision to use a framework or not. From what I read I'd think you might not really need one since you aren't processing any forms and that is large part of any web framework. But if you think you might need that in the future, you might use a framework to be prepared.
As far as layout / look and feel, you don't need a framework to accomplish this. You can simply use jsp includes to drive template reuse or a simple library like SiteMesh. Some frameworks have their own built in support. For example, Struts has Tiles which has also been ported to work with JSF MyFaces, among others I am sure.
And since you are giving me the oportunity, I'll just briefly mention that lately I've been using Stripes for most everything. I like it very much.