Matt RaibleMatt Raible is a Web Architecture Consultant specializing in open source frameworks.

10+ YEARS


Over 10 years ago, I wrote my first blog post. Since then, I've authored books, had kids, traveled the world, found Trish and blogged about it all.

GWT OAuth and LinkedIn APIs

LinkedIn Logo When I worked at LinkedIn last year, I received a lot of inquiries from friends and developers about LinkedIn's APIs. After a while, I started sending the following canned response:

For API access to build LinkedIn features into your application, fill out the following form:

   http://www.linkedin.com/static?key=developers_apis

For requests to build an application, go to:

   http://www.linkedin.com/static?key=developers_opensocial

I talked with the API team and they did say they look at every request that's sent via these forms. They don't respond to all of them b/c they know that many people would be angry if they told them "no", so they'd rather not have that headache.

Yesterday, I was pumped to see that they've finally decided to open up their API to Developers.

Starting today, developers worldwide can integrate LinkedIn into their business applications and Web sites. Developer.linkedin.com is now live and open for business.

First of all, congratulations to the API team on finally making this happen! I know it's no small feat. Secondly, it's great to see them using Jive SBS for their API documentation and developer community. My current client uses this to facilitate development and I love how it integrates a wiki, JIRA, FishEye, Crucible and Bamboo into one central jumping off point.

I've always been a fan of LinkedIn, ever since I joined way back in May 2003. However, I've longed for a way to access my data. LinkedIn Widgets are nice, but there's something to be said for the full power of an API. Last night, I sat down for a couple hours and enhanced my Implementing OAuth with GWT example to support LinkedIn's API.

I'm happy to report my experiment was a success and you can download GWT OAuth 1.2 or view it online. For now, I'm simply authenticating with OAuth and accessing the Profile API.

OAuth with GWT

In the process, I learned a couple things:

// For LinkedIn's OAuth API, convert request parameters to an AuthorizationHeader
if (httpServletRequest.getRequestURL().toString().contains("linkedin-api")) {
    String[] parameters = httpServletRequest.getQueryString().split("&");
    StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder("OAuth realm=\"http://api.linkedin.com/\",");
    for (int i = 0; i < parameters.length; i++) {
        sb.append(parameters[i]);
        if (i < parameters.length - 1) {
            sb.append(",");
        }
    }

    Header authorization = new Header("Authorization", sb.toString());
    httpMethodProxyRequest.setRequestHeader(authorization);
}

You might recall that my previous example had issues authenticating with Google, but worked well with Twitter. LinkedIn's authentication seems to work flawlessly. This leads me to believe that Twitter and LinkedIn have a much more mature OAuth implementation than Google.

Related OAuth News: Apache Roller 5 will be shipping with OAuth support. See Dave Johnson's What's New in Roller 5 presentation for more information.

Update December 6, 2009: I modified the gwt-oauth project to use GWT 1.7.1 and changed to the Maven GWT Plugin from Codehaus. Download GWT OAuth 1.3 or view it online.

Posted in The Web at Nov 24 2009, 03:46:05 PM MST 7 Comments

Adding Expires Headers with OSCache's CacheFilter

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how I improved this site's YSlow grade by concatenating JavaScript and CSS with wro4j. Even though I loved the improvements, there was still work to do:

I'm now sitting at a YSlow (V2) score of 75; 90 if I use the "Small Site or Blog" ruleset. I believe I can improve this by adding expires headers to my images, js and css.

Last Monday, wro4j 1.1.0 was released and I thought it would solve my last remaining issue. Unfortunately, it only adds expires headers (and ETags) to images referenced in included CSS. Of course, this makes sense, but I thought they'd add a filter to explicitly add expires headers.

Since I still wanted this feature, I did some searching around and found what I was looking for: OSCache's CacheFilter. It was surprisingly easy to setup, I downloaded OSCache 2.4.1, added it to my WEB-INF/lib directory, and added the following to my web.xml.

<filter>
    <filter-name>CacheFilter</filter-name>
    <filter-class>com.opensymphony.oscache.web.filter.CacheFilter</filter-class>
    <init-param>
        <param-name>expires</param-name>
        <param-value>time</param-value>
    </init-param>
    <init-param>
        <param-name>time</param-name>
        <param-value>2592000</param-value> <!-- one month -->
    </init-param>
    <init-param>
        <param-name>scope</param-name>
        <param-value>session</param-value>
    </init-param>
</filter>

<filter-mapping>
    <filter-name>CacheFilter</filter-name>
    <url-pattern>*.gif</url-pattern>
</filter-mapping>
<filter-mapping>
    <filter-name>CacheFilter</filter-name>
    <url-pattern>*.jpg</url-pattern>
</filter-mapping>
<filter-mapping>
    <filter-name>CacheFilter</filter-name>
    <url-pattern>*.png</url-pattern>
</filter-mapping>

After restarting Tomcat and clearing out my Firefox cache, I was in business.

I did experience one issue along the way when I tried to remove the oscache.jar from my WEB-INF/lib directory. I'm using the JSPWiki Plugin and it seems to rely on a class in oscache.jar. I'm not sure which version oscache.jar is, but the packages got moved around somewhere along the way. The good news is it seems OK to have both oscache.jar and oscache-2.4.1.jar in Roller's classpath.

After discovering the duplicate JARs issue, I got to thinkin' that EhCache would probably have a solution. Sure enough, it has a SimpleCachingHeadersPageCachingFilter. Since I already had a working solution, I didn't bother trying EhCache (especially since my Roller install uses EhCache 1.1 and the filter is only available in a later version). However, when I implement expires headers in AppFuse, I'll definitely try EhCache's solution.

As for my YSlow score, it didn't improve as much as I'd hoped (low 80s instead of mid 80s). Some of this is due to my embedded presentation from Slideshare. There's also some external images I'm using in my Lightbox JS implementation. So if I can find a better Lightbox implementation (supports rel="lightbox" syntax), there's a good chance I'll switch. In the meantime, I'm lovin' how much faster this site loads.

In case you're wondering, I do plan on adding css/js concatenation and expires headers to both AppFuse 2.1 and Roller 5.

Update: FWIW, I did try to configure expires headers in Apache, but the AJP 1.3 Connector doesn't seem to allow this to work. To quote Keith from KGB Internet:

I added an expires directive and it didn't touch the header for anything served from Tomcat, but does for content served directly by Apache. This might have to be set up in Tomcat.

Posted in Roller at Nov 23 2009, 11:17:05 AM MST 4 Comments

AppFuse 2.1 Milestone 1 Released

The AppFuse Team is pleased to announce the first milestone release of AppFuse 2.1. This release includes upgrades to all dependencies to bring them up-to-date with their latest releases. Most notable are Hibernate, Spring and Tapestry 5.

What is AppFuse?
AppFuse is an open source project and application that uses open source tools built on the Java platform to help you develop Web applications quickly and efficiently. It was originally developed to eliminate the ramp-up time found when building new web applications for customers. At its core, AppFuse is a project skeleton, similar to the one that's created by your IDE when you click through a wizard to create a new web project.

Release Details
Archetypes now include all the source for the web modules so using jetty:run and your IDE will work much smoother now. The backend is still embedded in JARs, enabling you to choose which persistence framework (Hibernate, iBATIS or JPA) you'd like to use. If you want to modify the source for that, add the core classes to your project or run appfuse:full-source.

In addition, AppFuse Light has been converted to Maven and has archetypes available. AppFuse provides archetypes for JSF, Spring MVC, Struts 2 and Tapestry 5. The light archetypes are available for these frameworks, as well as for Spring MVC + FreeMarker, Stripes and Wicket.

Other notable improvements:

Please note that this release does not contain updates to the documentation. Code generation will work, but it's likely that some content in the tutorials won't match. For example, you can use annotations (vs. XML) for dependency injection and Tapestry is a whole new framework. I'll be working on documentation over the next several weeks in preparation for Milestone 2.

AppFuse is available as several Maven archetypes. For information on creating a new project, please see the QuickStart Guide.

To learn more about AppFuse, please read Ryan Withers' Igniting your applications with AppFuse.

The 2.x series of AppFuse has a minimum requirement of the following specification versions:

  • Java Servlet 2.4 and JSP 2.0 (2.1 for JSF)
  • Java 5+

If you have questions about AppFuse, please read the FAQ or join the user mailing list. If you find bugs, please create an issue in JIRA.

Thanks to everyone for their help contributing code, writing documentation, posting to the mailing lists, and logging issues.

Posted in Java at Nov 19 2009, 07:16:36 AM MST 8 Comments

My Hunting Season Adventure at The Cabin

Last year, I decided Hunting Season in Montana would be a yearly tradition for me. It all started a couple years ago when I was talking to my Dad about his yearly hunting trip. He hunted a lot when we lived in Montana (early 70s - 1990) and continued this tradition when he moved to Oregon. I figured it'd be a good opportunity for some father/son bonding and asked him if I could join him one year. We soon realized we had the perfect Hunting Oasis at The Cabin and should make it a yearly tradition.

My Dad lived in Oregon for 20 years, hunted every fall with his buddy Wayne, and retired earlier this year. Shortly after retiring, he moved to Montana to start building his "retirement cabin" (with running water and indoor plumbing). My Mom, kids and I joined him in July and made some good progress on finishing the foundation.

This weekend, shortly after working all night, missing a flight, and discovering the New Belgium Hub at DIA, I arrived in Missoula for this year's hunting season. Because I arrived at midnight, we decided to spend the night at a hotel near the airport. The next morning, we woke up and drove 2 hours to the Swan Valley. We arrived at The Cabin, started the heat stove and began unloading the truck. After being there 15 minutes and starting to settle in, my Dad started to talk about where the deer usually roamed. He pointing down by the garden and mumbled "They usually come out of there..." As he was talking, I looked out our kitchen window and say a huge buck. My heart leapt into my throat.

I shouted "GO!" and my Dad quickly responded with "NO! It's yours!" I said "It's been 20 years, YOU go!" and off he went to grab his rifle. Seconds later we were out on the porch and he was trying to find the beautiful 4-point Whitetail buck in his scope. The buck quickly disappeared behind the woodshed and outhouse and didn't appear again until he was almost on the front road.

When the target walked across the road, I whispered loudly "Go, GO - get him!!"

Shortly after a shot was fired that dropped him from our view.

My Dad scrambled off the porch, trying to reload at the same time and jamming his rifle. "Get the other gun!" he yelled (because a deer is rarely done after the first shot) and I ran into the house to grab some bullets and the other rifle. By the time I made it back out to the front yard, another shot was fired. My Dad turned to me and said, "He's gone."

I thought, "WTF?!" I thought for sure he'd got him on the first shot. Turns out, "He's gone" also means "He's dead". The picture below illustrates my Dad's impressive accomplishment.

Dad gets a 4 point buck! First deer in 20 years.

After that, we both walked back to The Cabin to put our rifles away and got ready to haul it back.

As I was returning down the road to the deer, I spotted a good-size mountain lion on top of the hill. I didn't see its face, but saw enough of it to realize I should be carrying a rifle with me. A short sprint back to The Cabin and before I knew it, I was back by the deer, guarding it from any predators.

For the next couple hours, I learned how to gut a deer and enjoyed my Dad's overdue success. Congratulations Pappy - it seems you belong in Montana after all. ;-)

P.S. Today is my parents' 37th Anniversary. Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad! You make marriage look both fun and easy. I hope you have fun cutting up all that meat!

Posted in General at Nov 16 2009, 09:43:44 PM MST 26 Comments

Building SOFEA Applications with GWT and Grails

Last night, I spoke at the Denver Java User Group meeting. The consulting panel with Matthew, Tim and Jim a lot of fun and I enjoyed delivering my Building SOFEA Applications with GWT and Grails presentation for the first time. The talk was mostly a story about how we enhanced Evite.com with GWT and Grails and what we did to make both frameworks scale. I don't believe the presentation reflects the story format that well, but it's not about the presentation, it's about the delivery of it. ;-)

If you'd like to hear the story about this successful SOFEA implementation at a high-volume site, I'd recommend attending the Rich Web Experience next month. If you attended last night's meeting and have any feedback on how this talk can be improved, I'd love to hear it.

Posted in Java at Nov 12 2009, 09:30:09 AM MST 11 Comments

The Future of Web Frameworks at TSSJS

Caesars Palace For TSSJS Vegas 2010, I submitted two proposals for talks: GWT vs. Flex Smackdown and The Future of Web Frameworks. As of today, the 2nd is the only one that shows up on the conference agenda, but hopefully the former will get accepted too. Here's a description of this talk:

With rich Ajax applications and HTML5 on the horizon, are web frameworks still relevant? Java web frameworks like Struts and Spring MVC were all the rage 5 years ago. Component-based frameworks like Tapestry, JSF and Wicket made it easier to create re-usable applications. But what about the Mobile Web and offline applications?

Are Titanium, Adobe Air and Gears the future? If you're embracing the RESTfulness of the web, do you even need a web framework, or can you use use JAX-RS with an Ajax toolkit?

These questions and many more are examined, answered and debated in this lively session. Bring your opinions and experiences to this session to learn about what's dead, what's rising and what's here to stay. If you're a web framework fan, this session is sure to please.

I believe this talk will be a lot of fun to create and deliver. To create it, I'd like to make it a collaborative effort with the web framework community (users and developers). To kick things off, below is an initial rough outline/agenda:

  • Title
  • Introduction
  • Problem/Purpose
  • Agenda
    • How did we get here?
    • Where are we going?
    • How do we get there?
    • Q and A
  • History of Web Frameworks
    • Deep History (CGI, etc.)
    • Java's Rise
    • PHP
    • Rails -> Grails
    • Ajax Frameworks
    • RESTify!
    • SOFEA, APIs, etc.
  • The Future
    • HTML5
    • GWT, Cappucino and Spoutcore (compare to Java and compilers)
    • The Binary Players (Flex, JavaFX and Silverlight)
    • Getting Rich
    • Speed (is it a problem? YES!)
    • IE 6 will die.
    • Chrome OS
    • The Mobile Web
    • Desktop Webapps (Titanium, AIR, etc.)
    • Or is this the present? Future is bleeding edge.
  • Getting There: It's all about the APIs
    • Allows for any client
    • Web Framework skills transfer to desktop - and phone!
    • Speed will continue to be *very* important
    • Innovation, something we haven't thought of
  • Fallout
    • Interest in server-side frameworks will continue, but frameworks will become unmaintained
    • Ajax Frameworks will continue to innovate
    • HTML5 Frameworks?
    • IE 6 (hopefully!)
    • Desktop and Mobile with Web Technologies
    • Watch out for the next big thing! (or What do you think is the next big thing?)
  • Conclusion
  • Q and A

Is there anything I'm missing that's important for the future of web frameworks? Are there items that should be removed? Any advice is most welcome.

Reminder: I'll be speaking at tomorrow's DJUG if you'd like to discuss your thoughts in person.

Posted in Java at Nov 10 2009, 01:24:39 PM MST 11 Comments

JavaScript and CSS Concatenation with wro4j

This past weekend, I decided it was about time to fix my YSlow score on this site. I did the easiest thing first by moving all my JavaScript files to the bottom of each page. Then I turned on GZip compression using Roller's built-in CompressionFilter. These changes helped, but the most glaring problem continued to be too many requests. To solve this, I turned to wro4j (as recommended on Twitter) to concatenate my JS and CSS files into one.

I have to say, I'm very happy with the results. I'm now sitting at a YSlow (V2) score of 75; 90 if I use the "Small Site or Blog" ruleset. I believe I can improve this by adding expires headers to my images, js and css. More than anything, I'm impressed with wro4j, its great support and easy setup. I was looking for a runtime solution (b/c I didn't want to have to rebuild Roller) and it seems to be perfect for the job. Furthermore, wro4j minifies everything on the fly and they'll have an expires header filter in the next release.

JAWR and the YUI Compressor are other alternatives to this filter, but I'm currently sold on wro4j. First of all, it passed the 10-minute test. Secondly, it didn't require me to modify Roller's build system.

At this point, if I'm going to implement JS/CSS concatenation and minification in AppFuse and Roller, wro4j seems like the best option. If you disagree, I'd love to hear your reasoning.

TIP: See Javascript Compression in Nexus for information on using YUI Compressor with Maven.

Posted in Roller at Nov 09 2009, 10:44:44 AM MST 15 Comments

User Interface Schema Definitions

On my current project, we're developing a "designer" tool that allows users to build forms in their browser. These forms are displayed in various channels (e.g. web, mobile, sms) to capture data and make decisions based on user input.

When I joined the project, it was in a proof-of-concept phase and the form definitions created where serialized as XML (using JAXB) with element names that seemed logical. Now that we're moving the PoC to production mode, we're thinking it might be better to change our form definitions to leverage something that's more "industry standard". If nothing else, it'll help with marketing. ;-)

This week, I was tasked with doing research on "existing user interface schema definitions". I'm writing this post to see if there's any major specifications I'm missing. I plan on providing my recommendation to my team on Monday. Here's what I've found so far:

  • User Interface Markup Language (UIML): At 120 pages, the 4.0 spec seems very detailed. I'm not sure we'd use all of it, but it's interesting how the spec allows you to describe the initial tree structure (<structure>) and to dynamically modify its structure (<restructure>). It also has the notion of templates, which mirrors a similar concept we have in our application. Furthermore, it has VoiceXML support, which could be useful if we use call centers as a channel.
  • USer Interface eXtensible Markup Language (UsiXML): I admit that I haven't read much of this specification -- mostly because the UIML spec seemed to cover most of what we needed (especially since we're most interested in describing forms). As far as a I can tell, the major difference between UsiXML is its being submitted to the W3C for standardization (according to Wikipedia), while UIML is being standardized by OASIS. Beyond that, I find it strange that UIML's spec is 120 pages and UsiXML is 121. Neither project seems to have any activity this year.
  • Numerous others: including AAIML, AUIML, XIML, XUL, XAML and XForms. XForms seems like it may be the most logical if we're only interested in form layout and describing elements within them.

If all we're interested in is an XSD to define our forms, the most appealing specs have them: UIML, UsiXML and XForms. If activity is any sort of motivator for adoption, it's interesting to note that XForms 1.1 was submitted as a W3C recommendation a couple weeks ago (October 20, 2009).

If you've developed some sort of "form designer" tool that renders to multiple channels, I'd love to hear about your experience. Did you use some sort of industry standard to define your form elements, layout, etc. or did you come up with your own?

Posted in The Web at Nov 06 2009, 03:18:25 PM MST 4 Comments

Consulting, SOFEA, Grails and GWT at next week's Denver JUG

Next Wednesday, I'll be at Denver's JUG meeting to talk about Independent Consulting and Building SOFEA Applications with Grails and GWT. The first talk will be a a panel discussion among local independent consultants, including James Goodwill, Matthew McCullough, Tim Berglund and myself.

This session explores the trials and tribulations of an independent consultant. How do you find contracts? Should you setup an LLC, an S-Corp or just be a sole proprietorship? What about health insurance and benefits? Are recruiters helpful or hurtful? Learn lots of tips and tricks to get your dream job and your ideal lifestyle.

The Grails and GWT talk is a preview of a talk I'll be doing at the Rich Web Experience in December. Below is a rewrite of the abstract in first-person.

Earlier this year, I participated in a major enhancement of a high-traffic well-known internet site. The company wanted us to quickly re-architect their site and use a modern Ajax framework to do it with. An Ajax Framework evaluation was done to help the team choose the best framework for their skillset. The application was built with a SOFEA architecture using GWT on the frontend and Grails/REST on the backend.

This talk will cover how Bryan Noll, Scott Nicholls, James Goodwill and I came to choose GWT and Grails, as well as stumbling blocks we encountered along the way. In addition, we'll explore many topics such as raw GWT vs. GXT/SmartGWT, the Maven GWT Plugin, modularizing your code, multiple EntryPoints, MVP, integration testing and JSON parsing with Overlay Types.

If you're in Denver next Wednesday night (November 11th), you should stop by the Denver JUG meeting. It'll be a fun night and there's sure to be a few beers afterward. ;-)

Posted in Java at Nov 05 2009, 10:52:37 PM MST 5 Comments

Happy Birthday Abbie!

Today marks the 7th anniversary of Abbie's Birthday. Happy Birthday Kiddo!

Abbie at 7

I have to say that this year is quite a bit better than last year, especially since I got laid off on her birthday last year. ;-)

To commemorate this special occasion, I pulled out some pictures from the archives. Here's one of her and I on her first weekend, as well as her first cheerleader outfit.

Abbie and I on her first weekend Abbie's First Cheerleader Outfit

To see how Abbie has grown up over the years, see past Happy Birthday posts: #1, #3, #4, #5 and #6.

Posted in General at Nov 05 2009, 11:22:06 AM MST 2 Comments