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

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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.

Be careful when switching MySQL to UTF-8

Earlier this week, I noticed a couple strange issues on this blog and sent an email to the roller-user mailing list. I figured both issues were caused by my upgrade to Roller 5. Basically, my tag cloud wasn't working and I noticed a bunch of blog entries that had truncated data. I'd provide links to the truncated posts, but I believe I've fixed them, so links would be useless. This post is to make others aware of something I wasn't: be careful when switching MySQL to UTF-8.

The first issue, 404s from my tag cloud links, was something my theme was missing. It seems the tagIndex action is new in Roller 5 and required for tag clouds to work. To fix this issue, I had to add the following XML to my theme's theme.xml file.

<template action="tagsIndex">
    <name>TagsIndex</name>
    <description>Tag index page</description>
        <link></link>
    <navbar>false</navbar>
    <hidden>true</hidden>
    <templateLanguage>velocity</templateLanguage>
    <contentType>text/html</contentType>
    <contentsFile>Weblog.vm</contentsFile>
</template>

Since I wanted to replicate Roller 4's behavior, pointing the contentsFile to Weblog.vm worked just fine. The nice thing is I can always change it to another page and customize it to show more information about the selected tag.

The 2nd issue, data truncation, was a bit trickier. I thought it might've been something Roller did when upgrading my database from Roller 4 to 5. I didn't suspect upgrading from MySQL 3 to 5 would cause it. From my previous upgrade post:

At this point, I figured my database might be slightly hosed, but since it was simply creating tables, I was probably OK. I restarted Tomcat and left the old version in place while I waited for a MySQL 5 database instance from my hosting provider, KGB Internet. Once I got the new instance, I imported my backed-up database, ran the upgrade script and everything worked just peachy.

Keith at KGB looked into my issue and thought the problem was the charset. My old MySQL 3.x database used latin1 while my MySQL 5.x database uses UTF-8. The symptom looked familiar:

Be careful when switching to UTF-8. Once you have converted your data, any program/webapp that uses the database will have to check that the data they are sending to the database is valid UTF-8. If it isn't then MySQL will silently truncate the data after the invalid part, which can cause all sorts of problems.

Luckily, I had a backup of my pre-upgrade database and was able to convert and recover everything successfully with a little iconv, perl and numerous mysqldump and mysql import commands. Of course, it's possible there's still some jacked entries and comments. If you noticed any truncation, please let me know and I'll get them fixed.

Posted in Roller at Apr 28 2011, 08:11:40 PM MDT 2 Comments

Upgraded to Apache Roller 5.0, RC4

Last Sunday, Dave Johnson released Apache Roller 5.0, RC4. Since I'm an Apache Roller committer, and I've been seeing issues with comments throwing exceptions on this site, I decided to upgrade. In doing so, I discovered a number of issues. Hopefully by documenting them here, you'll be able to upgrade from Roller 4 to Roller 5 without any issues.

To upgrade, I took a snapshot of my existing site and database and copied them locally. After getting everything setup locally (importing existing database and upgrading it), I started Tomcat and began solving problems.

Database settings - JNDI vs. Properties
With Roller 4, I configured by database settings in a ROOT.xml so they'd be read using JNDI. With Roller 5, I got the following error when I tried to do this.

<openjpa-2.0.1-r422266:989424 fatal user error> org.apache.openjpa.persistence.ArgumentException:
A JDBC Driver or DataSource class name must be specified in the ConnectionDriverName property.
       at org.apache.openjpa.jdbc.schema.DataSourceFactory.newDataSource(DataSourceFactory.java:76)

I was able to get around this issue by adding the following to my roller-custom.properties:

database.configurationType=jdbc
database.jdbc.driverClass=com.mysql.jdbc.Driver
database.jdbc.connectionURL=jdbc:mysql://localhost/rollerdb
database.jdbc.username=root
database.jdbc.password=
mail.configurationType=properties
mail.hostname=localhost

After making this change, I received an error when Planet tried to startup:

ERROR 2011-03-02 09:56:08,502 DatabaseProvider:errorMessage - ERROR: unable to obtain database connection. 
Likely problem: bad connection parameters or database unavailable.
FATAL 2011-03-02 09:56:08,502 RollerContext:contextInitialized - Roller Planet startup failed during app preparation
org.apache.roller.planet.business.startup.StartupException: ERROR: unable to obtain database connection. 
Likely problem: bad connection parameters or database unavailable.

I don't remember why I enabled planet, but turning it off in roller-custom.properties seemed to solve the problem.

planet.aggregator.enabled=false

Password Encyrption
The next thing I tried to do was login. When this didn't work, I figured it must be related to password encryption. With Roller 4, I had to have "passwds.encryption.enabled=true" in roller-custom.properties. In Roller 5, I also had to add the encryption algorithm.

passwds.encryption.algorithm=SHA

GZip Compression
In November 2009, I optimized this site and used Roller's CompressionFilter and wro4j to gzip and concatenate JavaScript and CSS. With Roller 4, I used the CompressionFilter to compress *.css and *.js instead of using Wro4J's built-in gzip compression. The Roller 5 CompressionFilter seems to have issues with wro4j, so I had to disable it for *.css and *.js and use wro4j instead.

At this point, I figured I was good to go, so I zipped up my local WAR and scp'ed it to raibledesigns.com. I stopped Tomcat and attempted to upgrade my production MySQL database (version 3.23.56). Below is the error I received.

$ mysql -u raible -p raible < 400-to-500-migration.sql
Enter password:
ERROR 1064 (00000) at line 42: You have an error in your SQL syntax near 'as w set
   lastmodified = lastmodified,
   datecreated = datecreated,
   cr' at line 1

At this point, I figured my database might be slightly hosed, but since it was simply creating tables, I was probably OK. I restarted Tomcat and left the old version in place while I waited for a MySQL 5 database instance from my hosting provider, KGB Internet. Once I got the new instance, I imported my backed-up database, ran the upgrade script and everything worked just peachy.

I generally upgrade Roller by coping the new codebase over my old one. This is because I have a lot of symlinks and other files in my "ROOT" directory and like to keep those. In doing this, I found I had to do a couple things after copying everything over:

  1. Delete WEB-INF/lib and recopy from RC4's WEB-INF/lib.
  2. Delete WEB-INF/classes and recopy from RC4's WEB-INF/classes.

I then experienced some issues with JARs not being present for Roller's JSPWikiPlugin. I enabled this long ago, but don't use it anymore. However, to keep old posts still working, I wanted to enable it. The downloads for the plugin seem to be gone, but luckily I found a copy and put all the JARs into my WEB-INF/lib directory.

After starting Tomcat and browsing around a bit, I discovered two more issues:

  1. Search doesn't seem to work. For example, there are no results for jQuery.
  2. My Archives page's calendar didn't work. It showed the following:
    $calendarModel.showWeblogEntryCalendarBig($weblog, $cat)

I was able to fix issue #2 by changing #showBigWeblogCalendar() to the following.

#showWeblogEntryCalendarBig($model.weblog "nil")

The first issue with search seems to remain.

If you notice any other issues on this site, please let me know. I'll try to get them fixed asap.

Update: I entered an issue for my search problem in Roller's JIRA. I also managed to figure out that the problem is due to the old version of oscache that's needed by the JSPWiki plugin. Hopefully we can get the plugin upgraded to avoid this issue for other users.

Posted in Roller at Mar 03 2011, 11:39:37 AM MST 7 Comments

2010 - A Year in Review

2010 was a heckuva year, possibly one of my all-time favorites. It started with lots of anticipated fun and ended with lots of travel, skiing and relaxing and I'm only just now finding time to write this post. I had a lot of goals when I started 2010; the top two being my favorite:

  • Happiness
  • Girl

The rest of my goals involved running, skiing, mountain biking and finishing The Bus. I also had some professional goals that involved open source, conferences, publishing articles and learning new technologies. I accomplished about 75% of my personal goals and 50% of my professional goals. I'm pretty happy with these percentages considering how much fun I had last year.

In December 2009, I started working with Time Warner Cable as their Chief Architect of Web Development. I was hired to help them build a team of hard-working developers that could quickly build their online video presence. In January, we started getting our ducks in a row with some Agile Training in Virginia, followed by hiring some Agile Coaches. The only technical post I had during this process was about development infrastructure stacks. Both at TWC and my current gig, I've found myself enjoying the following stack:

  • Source Control: SVN
  • Source Viewer: FishEye
  • Wiki: Confluence
  • Bug Tracker: JIRA
  • Continuous Integration: Hudson

We tried Git for a couple months at TWC, but ended up reverting to SVN after we had "code deleted" issues during one of our most intense development cycles. When the kids and I weren't skiing, we worked on documenting How to be a Super Hero and The Adventures of Upside Down Man.

In February, I refreshed my Grails knowledge, later learning that it was tough to teach Grails to developers that didn't know Java. First of all, a lot of Grails and Groovy books are targeted at Java Developers. Secondly, the developers I was trying to sell it to had more interest in learning Java. Since I failed to sell Grails, we ended up using Spring + jQuery to build our app. I don't think was a bad decision as most of our development ended up being UI: ActionScript/Flex, Objective-C and jQuery/HTML.

My laptop was stolen from my living room in early February. It worked out nicely in the end since I didn't lose any data (thanks to good backups) and my business insurance covered the loss. My parents came out and helped me finish remodeling my guest room. I posted about My Future of Web Frameworks Presentations and became a proud father when "Jack was flying past both Abbie and I and giggling while doing it".

By the beginning of March, we'd hired a team of 10 at TWC and I took a trip to Jackson Hole to celebrate.

The thing I enjoyed the most about this trip was how well the group jelled. Kudos to Chris for assembling such an awesome group and putting such a spectacular trip together. Can't wait for next year.

Top o' Jackson Hole

The next week, I flew to Las Vegas for The ServerSide Java Symposium and enjoyed sessions on Cloud, Web Service APIs, Flex, Spring 3 and Cameron's Lessons Learned from the Internet Age. I posted my Future of Web Frameworks and GWT vs. Flex Smackdown presentations after the conference.

I ended March with The Trifecta.

You are about to experience Copper's High Alpine Nice ride up Storm King Spaulding Bowl View from Enchanted Forest

For Easter, I purchased an iPad and reviewed it a few days later. Seven months later, I'm not enthralled with the iPad, but I do think it's a heckuva lot better than the Galaxy Tab. I don't use it much, except for movies when traveling. My kids are its primary users, mostly using it for games and Netflix.

We visited my parents in Oregon and celebrated my Mom's retirement.

Huckleberry Aficionado Oregon Garden Brewfest Happy Beer Drinkers Old Friends

The picture I took of my Mom and Abbie that weekend is one of my all-time favorites.

Abbie and Mimi

At the end of April, I said farewell to the ski season, getting in 25 days; a personal best. I'm happy to report I have 10 days in so far this year, so my goal of 30 days looks to be well on track. No helicopter attempts yet, but hopefully soon.

I ended the month with a work trip to Seattle and painting the town red with my sister and Mya.

Sweet Seats at the Mariner's Game Rally Caps! Midnight Wheeeeee!!

I returned to Denver and turned off my TV for a month. I wrote about my experience in early June. For Memorial Day Weekend, I went mountain biking in Moab and had a blast at the Desert Rocks Music Festival. The Porcupine Rim ride took us 4.5 hours and we tracked 26.75 miles. The several points in the trail with "death on the right" were truly epic.

Hazard County Trail Close to The Edge Awesome Singletrack Sweet View

June started with our annual Ride to Red Rocks. I slept six hours and did the 25-mile off-road Elephant Rock ride the next morning. The next morning I hopped on a plane to Ireland for the Irish Software Show. My sister joined me and we had an incredible time with Jamie, Rob, John and Josh.

Straight to the top! Mmmmm, Guinness The Storehouse is shaped like a pint glass Brainwave

Upon returning to work, I got to have an awkward conversation with my client about all the vacation I was taking.

Fire in Background, 100 foot tall flames For Father's Day, my parents drove to Denver and we packed up the camping gear for a fun weekend at The Great Sand Dunes. After The Dunes, my parents and kids drove to The Cabin, camping out and touring Yellowstone along the way. That Thursday, June 24th, I attended my good friend Jason's birthday party in Lodo.

That's the night I met Trish.

I saw her switch from a Martini to a Guinness and I knew I had to talk to her. I introduced myself and quickly found myself conflicted with having a soon-to-expire iPhone 4 reservation at the Apple Store. I rushed out to grab the phone, returning because there was something special about Trish. We talked for a couple hours that night ... me mesmerized, her smiling a lot. I was dumbfounded to find such a cool person existed in the world. At the end of the night, I got her number and drove home with a feeling that my life was about to change.

The next day, I began a road trip to The Last Best Place for a Montana Summer Vacation.

Big Sky Country Ready for the Parade Chris Auchenbach Meadow Lake Golf Course in Columbia Falls

During that trip, Trish and I exchanged occasional text messages and I told many friends about the kick-ass girl I met. It was another great Montana vacation.

My favorite part of this year's trip to The Cabin was seeing it as a home again. My Mom retired in April and my parents moved back to Montana shortly after. Seeing how happy they are there is truly magical. I especially enjoy the thought of visiting them and all the wonderful folks in the Swan Valley many, many times in the future.

The kids and I drove like bats out of hell and made it back to Denver (950 miles) in 14.25 hours. I quickly scheduled a first date with Trish that Wednesday, and went back to work at TWC with a renewed energy. After our first date, I formed a sort of perma-grin. That Friday was my birthday. I've been having a blast with Trish ever since.

July ended with a trip to the Lost Coast for Jess and Lili's Wedding.

The reception afterwards was a truly spectacular party that lasted well into the evening. Clint and I vowed to go to bed early, but we ended up having so much fun we closed the place down. Jess and Lili were an instrumental part in creating a spectacular night, especially with their wedding dance and infectious happiness.

Lili and Jess

In August, I celebrated this blog's 8th birthday and we started our "60-Day Push" at work. The goal of our 60-Day Push was to re-write our Video Portal, iPad and Sony Blu-ray apps from scratch, without politics dictating their features. We hired Method for design, chose our own features and went to work. I wrote about the success of this effort in October.

I neglected to write about the Denver Cruisers Saints and Sinners ride or how much fun we had listening to B.B. King at Red Rocks.

Abbie and Jack's first day of school was on August 16th.

Pretend like you're playing Wii Jack!

At the end of August, we celebrated Jack's 6th Birthday and attended my Cousin Amy's Wedding in Missouri.

Wheee! Super Mario Bros. Cake Tebow Fan

The Happy Couple Jack and Abbie The Cousins

September rolled in, we finished the majority of the work in our 60-Day Push and Trish and I drove up to Estes Park for an epic weekend at the Scottish-Irish Festival. We rode our bikes in the parade (by accident), enjoyed a few pints and even did a bit of fly-fishing near our riverside accommodations.

Beautiful View Plane in Sky Ride to Stanley Hotel View from The Stanley Hotel

We listened to the 1st 2010 Broncos game while driving back from Estes and slipped into a Rockies game shortly after losing. Our sadness over the Broncos loss was erased within a couple hours as we celebrated Jason Giambi's walk-off home run. Unfortunately, the Rockies didn't make it to the post-season, but the Broncos looked good at their home opener.

Fighter Jets

October came quickly and I wrote How's the ol' Team Doing and defended the Age of Frameworks. At the end of October, we moved into TWC's Lodo Office on Wynkoop. That weekend, we dressed up as superheros for Halloween.

November started off with Abbie's birthday and Trish got to meet the kids for the first time. From there, we went into traveling-like-madmen mode. We enjoyed suite seats at the Broncos vs. Kansas City game, then flew to Amsterdam for Devoxx the next morning (performing an AppFuse release along the way). I presented on Thursday and posted my Comparing JVM Web Frameworks presentation shortly after. I wrote about our trip while at The Cabin for Thanksgiving.

Sunset in Amsterdam Waffles at Désiré de Lille Partying with the Adobe Crew Ghent

I flew back from Montana, stopped in at the Lodo office for a couple days, then hopped on a plane to the Rich Web Experience with Trish. My presentations went well, sparked some controversy, and we raced to Key West to celebrate the end of the conference season.

Dreams do come true. Sunset in Key Largo Piña Coladas in Key Largo Key Largo Sunset

I returned to Denver for my last week at TWC, enjoyed a couple days of skiing, then headed to Utah for an interview with Overstock.com. While I enjoyed my time at TWC, my contract duration was up and being a full-time employee didn't give me the vacation time I tend to enjoy. My interview with Overstock.com was two days, with the 2nd day on the slopes at Snowbird. I was very impressed by the company, people and interview process and agreed to work there on the way to the airport.

I returned to Denver for Trish's Birthday Weekend at Breckenridge, then flew down to Naples on Wednesday to spend Christmas with her family. It was my first time meeting her parents, but that didn't stop us from having a great time talking, beach-going, golfing and relaxing.

Trish and her awesome parents Hot Santa Scotch: Making White Men Dance since 1494. Sunset in Naples

We returned to Denver, I tried to get AppFuse 2.1 finished and then we celebrated New Years with friends in Steamboat.

Good Morning from Steamboat! Sunrise over Steamboat

As I reminisce about last year, I can't help but smile. While I've been a happy person for a while, having someone to share your life with is a special thing. I feel like I dreamed up Trish a couple years ago. I was looking for someone that liked to do my favorite activities: mountain biking, skiing, traveling the world and enjoying good beer. I found that and more in Trish and couldn't be happier.

I didn't write as many technical posts on this blog as I'd like to, but I attribute that mostly to the lack of learning new things at TWC. At Overstock.com, I expect that to change and hope to have more technical articles in the coming year.

At the end of last year's Year in Review, I wrote:

I hope to speak at (or attend) 3 conferences, finish up The Bus and do a whole bunch of skiing and mountain biking.

I accomplished all but one goal: finishing The Bus. In 2011, I plan on doing two main things: keep rockin' it with Trish and finishing The Bus. Everything else is gravy. ;-)

It's gonna be a spectacular year.

Double Rainbow

Posted in Roller at Jan 10 2011, 11:42:01 AM MST 5 Comments

Happy 8th Birthday to this blog!

Eight years ago today, this blog was born in the wee hours of the morning. I was inspired to start it after reading Dave Johnson's article on Roller. I have to say, it's been a great ride and I remember the early days like they were yesterday. Many of the Java bloggers wrote daily and shared short tips, tricks and snippets on their blogs; much in the same way we do on Twitter today.

A lot has happened in my life since this blog was started: Abbie was born, Jack was born, I started AppFuse, wrote Spring Live, had some really cool gigs and gained a whole new perspective on my life.

For those long time readers, you might've noticed the vacation posts have picked up recently and the technology posts have subsided somewhat. The good news is this indicates I'm having a lot of fun; the bad news is I'm not learning as much as I'd like. Hopefully that'll change soon and I'll be writing about developing apps for the online video space in the near future. There's a good chance the posts about my life and how much fun I'm having will continue, especially as Abbie and Jack continue to grow into world-class skiers.

As usual, I have many ambitions for this fall, including helping Apache Roller, finishing AppFuse 2.1 and learning how to play the guitar. Along the way, I'll be helping build/release some kick-ass software for a major cable provider, building a sauna in my basement and enjoying the hell out of Devoxx 2010. You can sure I'll be blogging about these along the way, as well as many years into the future.

Thanks for reading all these years, it's been a fantastic experience. :)

Posted in Roller at Aug 01 2010, 03:48:38 PM MDT 10 Comments

2009 - A Year in Review

I wrote my first "year in review" post in 2005 and continued the tradition in 2006 and 2008. This year, my December was filled with unplanned circumstances, a new job and a houseful of family for the holidays, so I never had time to sit down and write this post. As things are returning to normal, I figured it's about time I kicked off 2010 with one of my favorite writing reflections.

Experts Only 2009 started off with a bang: I wrote about my Mom nailing a bear's nuts to a tree after she killed it. My new gig (at Evite) started out fun with choosing an Ajax framework and a Tech Meetup in LA. My bike got stolen, I started running to work and traveled to Tahoe without an ID.

February started off with an epic weekend at Silverton. I went to Web Directions North and attended many good talks:

I wrote my first GWT-related entry and a few posts related to independent consulting.

I ended February with a couple more GWT-related entries.

On the top In March, I bought a new 15" MacBook Pro and shipped it back shortly after to get a 256 GB SSD. I still have nothing but good things to say about the machine. I discovered Nexus is awesome and the kids and I went on our first hike of the year.

My GWT Journey continued with GXT MVC, modularization and optimization. I got a new office and new bike and proudly witnessed my Dad's Retirement.

April came and I got Drunk on Software, had a blast at Holly and Jason's Wedding and published our Ajax Framework Analysis Results.

Mr. and Mrs. Harris

At the end of April, I started building the kids a treehouse and inspired smiles with two new kittens. On May 7th, I had PRK eye surgery and wrote about my experience in early June. I continue to be extremely happy with the results.

Day 3 - They love it! Day 4 - Floor completed Jack and Olivia Abbie and Mittens

May ended with Ryan and Breanne's Wedding in Playa Del Carmen. Having so many great friends around and the Nuggets vs. Lakers playoffs the same week made this one of the best vacations of my life.

Ready for the Ceremony Vows Mariachi Band Mr. and Mrs. Johnson

June brought the news that the Colorado Software Summit was over. There's been several times in the past few months that I've missed the annual experience. Can someone please start a conference at a Colorado mountain resort in the near future? Pretty please! I've always experienced this conference with Bruce and we continued another tradition (riding to Red Rocks) with 2nd Row seats at Big Head Todd.

My GWT posts continued with a Facebook-style Autocomplete, Implementing OAuth, JSON Parsing with JavaScript Overlays and a preview of GWT 2.0. I wrote about implementing SOFEA with GWT and Grails at Evite.com and had a blast at the Great Sand Dunes on Father's Day.

Abbie and Cookie at The Dunes

My job hunt began and I started a month-long vacation in Montana with Raible Road Trip #13. Vacationing for a summer month in Montana has been one of my goals for several years. Accomplishing it this year made me extremely happy and I hope to make it a summer tradition.

July was an awesome month in 2009. Granted, April and May were special with tropical weddings, but Montana in July is a particularly tasty treat. My Summer Vacation in Montana attempts to capture how much fun we had. It was particularly enjoyable because my parents, children and many life-long friends were involved.

View of the Missions from Holland Falls Ready for the Celebrate the Swan Race Horseshoes Floor Pouring Crew

As summer began to set, I decided to get back into speaking at conferences, starting with the Rich Web Experience. I wrote about initial GWT work at my new client, which included an interesting experience with Java REST Frameworks. The month ended with one of my favorite holidays: Jack's Birthday.

September was nice and uneventful. I learned about Concurrency on the JVM Using Scala, started using MVP with GWT and learned how to do more with less. I also ran in a 10K.

October started out with a family trip to Washington for my sister's fabulous wedding. People flew in from all over the US and we had a sweet condo on Lake Chelan for the week. Playing golf, wine tasting and celebrating with good people made for a great start to the fall season.

Kalin and Mya

Abbie and Charles In November, I started writing more, mostly because I was gearing up for upcoming talks and thinking about / working on AppFuse. I celebrated Abbie's Birthday, did some website optimization and chuckled at the comments about my hunting season adventure.

Right before Thanksgiving, I got a call from my client letting me know that their budget had run out my contract would end soon. Luckily, I had an interview setup the next day and had great success in finding a new gig.

I ended November with a trip to Oregon for Thanksgiving and ran in the Oregon Mid-Valley Road Race. The followed week, I flew with my kids and parents to The Rich Web Experience and learned about Objective-J and Cappuccino. I had a near-perfect (high 70s, no lines) Disney World experience with my family, watched the Ducks with the Civil War and compared kick-ass web frameworks.

Kids at Loews Portofino, Universal Studios Florida

In December, I didn't do much blogging - mostly because I arrived home from Florida to discover a waterfall in my guest room. The water pipes were routed through the ceiling, had busted from the cold, and water was pouring everywhere. Dealing with that and starting a new job occupied most of my time and I never got a chance to write much down. I ran in the Jingle Bell 5K and watched the Broncos lose a lot. Shortly after, my family came for Christmas and a good time was had by all.

As I reflect back on last year, my biggest surprise is that I got into running. I ended up running in 5 races last year and even enjoyed doing it a few times. It's still not my favorite activity (skiing and mountain biking win that title), but I enjoy it enough to do it a couple times each week. The goals I wrote down for last year were: visit 3 foreign countries, take 3 months of vacation and spend 1 month in Montana. I only made it to 1 foreign country (Mexico), but I did take 2 months of vacation and got my month in Montana. I'll take that.

In 2010, I hope to speak at (or attend) 3 conferences, finish up The Bus and do a whole bunch of skiing and mountain biking. More than anything, I plan to continue having a lot of fun with my family and implementing a lot of cool technologies along the way.

It's gonna be a great year.

Posted in Roller at Jan 11 2010, 10:06:09 AM MST Add a Comment

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

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 16 Comments

2008 - A Year in Review

In 2005 and 2006, I did "A Year in Review" entries. 2007 was the year I got divorced, which probably motivated me to write a bit less. This year I'm back and ready to spend the next few hours writing, copying/pasting and linking like a madman. Hope you enjoy!

Workin' on the Feedlot 2008 was the year I traveled the world and developed a true passion for skiing. In January, my good friend Jason Miller moved back to Denver after quitting his job at Bear Stearns in NYC. We spent the first weekend in Nebraska working on Cletus's feedlot. The next week, my car stereo got stolen and I wondered if my bad knee would make it through the ski season (the good news is not only did I ski the rest of the season, but my knee healed itself over the summer).

Abbie and Jack on Green Mountain At the end of January, the kids and I hiked to the top of Green Mountain and Don Brown made Maven not suck. Then I wondered if there was room for both Rails and Grails at a company and quickly learned both.

February started fantastically with a 14" Powder Day at Steamboat. I wondered if there is no "best" web framework and reviewed Grails and Rails books. After spending an awesome weekend in Tahoe, I took the kids on The Ski Train and learned more about Selenium at Google.

Breathtaking Miller and Vial Lake Tahoe - Last Run

This brings us to one of my favorite posts of all time. On February 28th, Jack got a bead stuck in his nose. After taking him to the ER and paying $800, we found out magic recipe for bead removal is to "hold one nostril and give him a CPR-type breath/blow into his mouth". The reason I love the post so much is it's solved the problem for other frantic parents when they Google for "bead stuck in nose". Whenever I get a new comment, it always makes me smile.

March started out with a Powder Day at Whistler. I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the weekend with good friends Jarvis and Korn Dog. After returning to Denver, I was allowed to blog about building a UI Frameworks Team at LinkedIn and posted my thoughts on Grails vs. Rails.

View from Our Condo In mid-March, I achieved an all-Mac family and traveled to Lake Chelan for my sister's birthday. Shortly after, The AppFuse Primer was released. At the end of the month, I attended TSSJS in Vegas and moderated a Web Framework Smackdown.

In April, the LinkedIn Denver office opened and we all celebrated by attending the Rockie's Home Opener. The ski season came to an end and I wrote a howto for configuring Apache with mod_proxy and SSL on OS X. Then I discovered the JavaOne parties and wrote about running Spring MVC Web Applications in OSGi.

April ended with 82°F and May started with snow. I attended JavaOne (or at least the parties), released AppFuse 2.0.2 and figured out how to do extensionless URLs with the UrlRewriteFilter. The kids and I spent an afternoon in Rocky Mountain National Park and I did some coding in my backyard.

Jack's Special Rock Nice Trail Beautiful Smile Here's Hoping for another run in October

On Memorial Day, I enjoyed a liver-wrenching, Rockies-filled weekend with my sister her girlfriend Mya and Mr. Miller. I also contemplated making AppFuse Struts 2-specific.

June started with some mountain bike riding, planning some excellent vacations and getting a dream machine. I rode the annual trip to Big Head Todd at Red Rocks with Matt and Bruce. I took the kids on their first camping trip for Father's Day and had a blast. It took us several hours to find the campsite and my car kept starting all night long. It's sure to be a family tradition from now on.

Catchin' Bugs

The next weekend, I attended the American Craft Beer Fest in Boston. To end the month, I embarked upon Raible Road Trip #12 with Abbie, Jack and my Dad.

Grand Tetons In July, the bus project began and I posted pictures of the trip to Montana. This year, I hope to spend the whole month of July at the cabin. I bought an iPhone (one of my best technology-related purchases to date). OSCON was fun but the week after wasn't.

Nice 'n Snug August revealed my favorite birthday present. I didn't blog much the rest of the month, revealing why later.

Jack on his 4th Birthday Jack's Birthday Weekend was an outstandingly fun mixture of old friends and good Colorado beer. In September, I went to see the bus at MotorWorks, Abbie lost her first tooth and co-workers and I performance tested Memcached.

What followed was wonderful. Miller and I headed to Oktoberfest for the Best. Vacation. Ever. We still talk about how much fun we had on that vacation. October finished with the Colorado Software Summit and a hunting trip to the cabin.

November was a crazy month. I got laid off and celebrated Abbie's birthday on the same day. Jack got a mohawk and I traveled coast-to-coast in the same week. To close the month, I announced what's next and headed to Costa Rica.

Costa Rica, courtesy of Rob Misek

I had a fantastic time in Costa Rica and was impressed to see Abbie is a blue skier shortly after. I did a Dojo/Comet Research Project for a week and enjoyed the location of my newest client last week. A small adventure turned into a scary adventure and I enjoyed telling my stories to fellow Java Enthusiasts in Portland.

Phew! It's been quite a year. For 2009, I'm still hoping for what I tweeted shortly after Costa Rica. I'd like to visit 3 foreign countries, take 3 months of vacation and spend 1 month in Montana. I have technology goals too, but those aren't nearly as much fun to dream about. ;-)

Happy New Year!

Posted in Roller at Dec 31 2008, 04:56:32 PM MST 2 Comments

Added a Tag Cloud

I added a tag cloud to this site tonight. Thanks to Rich Sharple's Hacking Roller : Tag Clouds, it was pretty easy. It's currently located in the bottom-right corner. Here's a glance at this site's most popular tags:

acegi appfuse denver grails gwt hibernate ibatis java jsf maven maven2 myfaces rails roller skiing spring springmvc stripes struts struts2 tapestry tomcat travel webframeworks wicket

Enjoy!

Posted in Roller at Feb 12 2008, 10:04:07 PM MST 4 Comments

Tech Meetup in Silicon Valley next week?

Dave's going to be in California next week:

I'm going to be traveling to California next week (Jan 13-18) to sync up with my co-workers at Sun HQ in Santa Clara. I'll be in town Sunday through Friday and though my days will be pretty busy, I'll probably have some free time in the evenings for a meet-up or two.

Coincidentally, I'll be out there as well (Tuesday - Friday @ LinkedIn). Sounds like an excellent excuse to meetup and have some beers. Wanna join us?

Posted in Roller at Jan 09 2008, 03:16:40 PM MST 3 Comments