When I started with yourmitra.com I chose Stripes decoration tags over a full-blown decoration framework. The reason was simple – I was new to almost all of the technologies and frameworks that I was using so did not like to waste time learning a new decoration framework. The tags provided by Stripes was sufficient enough for the website.
One of the drawbacks of using stripes was that it could not decorate pure html pages so I had to duplicate the navigation links, header and footer. Now with more functionality being added and with the need for better navigation I have decided to invest some time on a full-fledged decoration framework.
I looked around a bit and I could see only sitemesh and tiles. I chose sitemesh over tiles since it provides more features. I tried it out with a simple example and its pretty easy to configure but the documentation provided on sitemesh could be a little better. It assumes that the reader is an experienced developer who knows what he is doing. The example given under http://www.opensymphony.com/sitemesh/decorators.html includes other jsp files which can only be available if downloaded and placed under the web application. A simple example with a single html page and a single decorator should be sufficient for novice users to get started.
Not sure if there are any other good decoration frameworks available, if yes, then I would like to know and I would also be interested in knowing the performance of SiteMesh – is it good enough.