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

The JHipster Mini-Book The JHipster Mini-Book is a guide to getting started with hip technologies today: AngularJS, Bootstrap, and Spring Boot. All of these frameworks are wrapped up in an easy-to-use project called JHipster.

This book shows you how to build an app with JHipster, and guides you through the plethora of tools, techniques and options you can use. Furthermore, it explains the UI and API building blocks so you understand the underpinnings of your great application.

For book updates, follow @jhipster-book on Twitter.

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.

Livin' it up in Vegas at TSSJS 2011

Last Wednesday, Trish and I traveled to Las Vegas for TheServerSide Java Symposium 2011 conference. We had a free room from TechTarget, but opted to upgrade to a suite with a view over the Bellagio Fountains. Trish won a trip to Vegas as a sales award earlier in the year and cleverly exchanged it for cash, so our upgrade was sort of free.

Caesars Pool The Bellagio Fountains

My first talk was on Online Video and my experience at Time Warner Cable. With my former team's iPad app releasing the day before, it was a fun session. The attendance was kind of sparse, but I had some good competition so wasn't surprised.

After I finished speaking, we headed to happy hour and met up with some friends that happened to be in town. We had dinner at the Todd English Pub and headed to the Penn & Teller show at the Rio. We closed the night after Trish had a 45-minute roll at the craps table at O'Sheas.

We slept in on Thursday and I gave my Comparing JVM Web Frameworks talk that afternoon. I made sure to mention some other methods to choosing web frameworks: doing performance comparisons like Peter Thomas has done or choosing Lift because one of its developers says it's the best. While Vaadin did sneak into the #5 spot, I made sure and mentioned that Wicket and Tapestry seem to belong there moreso (based on stats, mailing list traffic, etc.).

Trish took a bunch of pictures during my talk, which had a great turnout and lots of participation.

Getting Intro'd My Intro My Dream on Display

The Problem How do you choose? Choosing a Framework

That evening, we celebrated St. Patty's Day with some college buddies of mine, ate great sushi at Mizuya and experienced the joys of three card poker. Thanks to TechTarget for inviting me to TSSJS 2011; we had an awesome time. You can find all the pictures we took on Flickr.

P.S. If you can't see the presentations in this post (a.k.a. you don't have Flash), you can view them on on Slideshare or download the PDFs.

Posted in Java at Mar 22 2011, 09:04:17 AM MDT Add a Comment

JSR 303 and JVM Web Framework Support

Emmanuel Bernard recently sent an email to the JSR 303 Experts Group about the next revision of the Bean Validation JSR (303). Rather than sending the proposed changes privately, he blogged about them. I left a comment with what I'd like to see:

+1 for Client-side validation. I'd love to see an API that web frameworks can hook into to add "required" to their tags for HTML5. Or some service that can be registered so the client can make Ajax requests to an API to see if an object is valid.

Emmanuel replied that most of the necessary API already exists for this, but frameworks have been slow to adopt it.

Hi Matt,

The sad thing is that the API is present on the Bean Validation side but presentation frameworks are slow to adopt it and use it :(

RichFaces 4 now has support for it but I wished more presentation frameworks had worked on the integration. If you can convince a few people or have access to a few people, feel free to send them by me :)

The integration API is described here. Let me know if you think some parts are missing or should be improved. We should definitely do some more buzz around it.

In the interest of generating more buzz around it, I decided to do some research and see what JVM Frameworks support JSR 303. Here's what I've come up with so far (in no particular order):

Struts 2 has an open issue, but doesn't seem to support JSR 303. Since I did a quick-n-dirty google search for most of these, I'm not sure if they support client-side JavaScript or HTML5's required. If you know of other JVM-based web frameworks that support JSR 303, please let me know in the comments.

Posted in Java at Mar 08 2011, 11:33:24 AM MST 4 Comments

Implementing Extensionless URLs with Tapestry, Spring MVC, Struts 2 and JSF

For the past couple of weeks, I've spent several evening hours implementing extensionless URLs in AppFuse. I've been wanting to do this ever since I wrote about how to do it a few years ago. This article details my experience and will hopefully help others implement this feature in their webapps.

First of all, I used the UrlRewriteFilter, one of my favorite Java open source projects. Then I followed a pattern I found in Spring's "mvc-basic" sample app from MVC Simplifications in Spring 3.0. The app has since changed (because SpringSource integrated UrlRewriteFilter-type functionality in Spring MVC), but the pattern was basically path-matching instead of extension-mapping. That is, the "dispatcher" for the web framework was mapped to /app/* instead of *.html.

Prior to the move to extensionless URLs, AppFuse used *.html for its mapping and this seemed to cause users problems when they wanted to serve up static HTML files. To begin with, I removed all extensions from URLs in tests (Canoo WebTest is used for testing the UI). I also did this for any links in the view pages and redirects in the Java code. This provided a decent foundation to verify my changes worked. Below are details about each framework I did this for, starting with the one that was easiest and moving to hardest.

Tapestry 5
Tapestry was by far the easiest to integrate extensionless URLs into. This is because it's a native feature of the framework and was already integrated as part of Serge Eby's Tapestry 5 implementation. In the end, the only things I had to do where 1) add a couple entries for CXF (mapped to /services/*) and DWR (/dwr/*) to my urlrewrite.xml and 2) change the UrlRewriteFilter so it was only mapped to REQUEST instead of both REQUEST and FORWARD. Below are the mappings I added for CXF and DWR.

<urlrewrite default-match-type="wildcard">
    ...
    <rule>
        <from>/dwr/**</from>
        <to>/dwr/$1</to>
    </rule>
    <rule>
        <from>/services/**</from>
        <to>/services/$1</to>
    </rule>
</urlrewrite>

Spring MVC
I had a fair amount of experience with Spring MVC and extensionless URLs. Both the Spring MVC applications we developed last year at Time Warner Cable used them. To change from a *.html mapping to /app/* was pretty easy and involved removing more code than I added. Previously, I had a StaticFilter that looked for HTML files and if it didn't find them, it dispatched to Spring's DispatcherServlet. I was able to remove this class and make the web.xml file quite a bit cleaner.

To make UrlRewriteFilter and Spring Security play well together, I had to move the securityFilter so it came after the rewriteFilter and add an INCLUDE dispatcher so included JSPs would have a security context available to them.

<filter-mapping>
    <filter-name>rewriteFilter</filter-name>
    <url-pattern>/*</url-pattern>
</filter-mapping>
<filter-mapping>
    <filter-name>securityFilter</filter-name>
    <url-pattern>/*</url-pattern>
    <dispatcher>REQUEST</dispatcher>
    <dispatcher>FORWARD</dispatcher>
    <dispatcher>INCLUDE</dispatcher>
</filter-mapping>

The only other things I had to change were security.xml and dispatcher-servlet.xml to remove the .html extensions. The urlrewrite.xml file was fairly straightforward. I used the following at the bottom as a catch-all for dispatching to Spring MVC.

<rule>
    <from>/**</from>
    <to>/app/$1</to>
</rule>
<outbound-rule>
    <from>/app/**</from>
    <to>/$1</to>
</outbound-rule>

Then I added a number of other rules for j_security_check, DWR, CXF and static assets (/images, /scripts, /styles, /favicon.ico). You can view the current urlrewrite.xml in FishEye. The only major issue I ran into was that Spring Security recorded protected URLs as /app/URL so I had to add a rule to redirect when this happened after logging in.

<rule>
    <from>/app/**</from>
    <to last="true" type="redirect">%{context-path}/$1</to>
</rule>

Struts 2
Using extensionless URLs with Struts 2 is likely pretty easy thanks to the Convention Plugin. Even though this plugin is included in AppFuse, it's not configured with the proper constants and I have struts.convention.action.disableScanning=true in struts.xml. It looks like I had to do this when I upgraded from Struts 2.0.x to Struts 2.1.6. It's true AppFuse's Struts 2 support could use a bit of love to be aligned with Struts 2's recommended practices, but I didn't want to spend the time doing it as part of this exercise.

With Struts 2, I tried the path-mapping like I did with Spring MVC, but ran into issues. Instead, I opted to use an ".action" extension by changing struts.action.extension from "html" to "action," in struts.xml. Then I had to do a bunch of filter re-ordering and dispatcher changes. Before, with a .html extension, I had all filters mapped to /* and in the following order.

Filter NameDispatchers
securityFilter request
rewriteFilter request, forward
struts-prepare request
sitemesh request, forward, include
staticFilter request, forward
struts request

Similar to Spring MVC, I had to remove the rewriteFilter in front of the securityFilter and I was able to remove the staticFilter. I also had to map the struts filter to *.action instead of /* to stop Struts from trying to catch static asset and DWR/CXF requests. Below is the order of filters and their dispatchers that seems to work best.

Filter NameDispatchers
rewriteFilter request
securityFilter request, forward, include
struts-prepare request, forward
sitemesh request, forward, include
struts forward

From there, it was a matter of modifying urlrewrite.xml to have the following catch-all and rules for static assets, j_security_check and DWR/CXF.

<rule match-type="regex">
    <from>^([^?]*)/([^?/\.]+)(\?.*)?$</from>
    <to last="true">$1/$2.action$3</to>
</rule>
<outbound-rule match-type="regex">
    <from>^(.*)\.action(\?.*)?$</from>
    <to last="false">$1$2</to>
</outbound-rule>

JSF
JSF was by far the most difficult to get extensionless URLs working with. I'm not convinced it's impossible, but I spent a several hours over a few days and was unsuccessful in completely removing them. I was able to make things work so I could request pages without an extension, but found when clicking buttons and links, the extension would often show up in the URL. I'm also still using JSF 1.2, so it's possible that upgrading to 2.0 would solve many of the issues I encountered.

For the time being, I've changed my FacesServlet mapping from *.html to *.jsf. As with Struts, I had issues when I tried to map it to /app/*. Other changes include changing the order of dispatchers and filters, the good ol' catch-all in urlrewrite.xml and modifying security.xml. For some reason, I wasn't able to get file upload working without adding an exception to the outbound-rule.

<rule match-type="regex">
    <from>^([^?]*)/([^?/\.]+)(\?.*)?$</from>
    <to last="true">$1/$2.jsf</to>
</rule>
<outbound-rule match-type="regex">
  <!-- TODO: Figure out how to make file upload work w/o using *.jsf -->
    <condition type="path-info">selectFile</condition>
    <from>^(.*)\.jsf(\?.*)?$</from>
    <to last="false">$1$2</to>
</outbound-rule>

I also spent a couple hours trying to get Pretty Faces to work. I wrote about my issues on the forums. I tried writing a custom Processor to strip the extension, but found that I'd get into an infinite loop where the processor kept getting called. To workaround this, I tried using Spring's RequestContextHolder to ensure the processor only got invoked once, but that proved fruitless. Finally, I tried inbound and outbound custom processors, but failed to get those working. The final thing I tried was url-mappings for each page in pretty-config.xml.

<url-mapping>
  <pattern value="/admin/users"/>
  <view-id value="/admin/users.jsf"/>
</url-mapping>
<url-mapping>
  <pattern value="/mainMenu"/>
  <view-id value="/mainMenu.jsf"/>
</url-mapping>

The issue with doing this was that some of the navigation rules in my faces-config.xml stopped working. I didn't spend much time trying to diagnose the problem because I didn't like having to add an entry for each page in the application. The one nice thing about Pretty Faces is it did allow me to do things like the following, which I formerly did with a form that auto-submitted when the page loaded.

<url-mapping>
  <pattern value="/passwordHint/#{username}"/>
  <view-id value="/passwordHint.jsf"/>
  <action>#{passwordHint.execute}</action>
</url-mapping>

Conclusion
My journey implementing extensionless URLs was an interesting one, and I solidified my knowledge about ordering of filters, dispatchers and the UrlRewriteFilter. I still think I have more to learn about properly implementing extensionless URLs in Struts 2 and JSF and I hope to do that in the near future. I believe Struts' Convention Plugin will help me and JSF 2 + Pretty Faces will hopefully work nicely too. Of course, it'd be great if all Java Web Frameworks had an easy mechanism for producing and consuming extensionless URLs. In the meantime, thank goodness for the UrlRewriteFilter.

If you'd like to try AppFuse and its shiny new URLs, see the QuickStart Guide and choose the 2.1.0-SNAPSHOT version.

Posted in Java at Feb 10 2011, 04:53:27 PM MST 10 Comments

How I Calculated Ratings for My JVM Web Frameworks Comparison

When I re-wrote my Comparing JVM Web Frameworks presentation from scratch, I decided to add a matrix that allows you to rate a framework based on 20 different criteria. The reason I did this was because I'd used this method when choosing an Ajax framework for Evite last year. The matrix seemed to work well for selecting the top 5 frameworks, but it also inspired a lot of discussion in the community that my ratings were wrong.

I expected this, as I certainly don't know every framework as well as I'd like. The mistake I made was asking for the community to provide feedback on my ratings without describing how I arrived at them. From Peter Thomas's blog:

What you are doing is adjusting ratings based on who in the community shouts the loudest. I can't help saying that this approach comes across as highly arrogant and condescending, you seem to expect framework developers and proponents to rush over and fawn over you to get better ratings, like waiters in a restaurant trying to impress a food-critic for Michelin stars.

I apologize for giving this impression. It certainly wasn't my intent. By having simple numbers (1.0 == framework does well, 0.5 == framework is OK and 0 == framework not good at criteria) with no rationalization, I can see how the matrix can be interpreted as useless (or to put it bluntly, as something you should wipe your ass with). I don't blame folks for getting angry.

For my Rich Web Experience presentation, I documented why I gave each framework the rating I did. Hopefully this will allow folks to critique my ratings more constructively and I can make the numbers more accurate. You can view this document below or on Google Docs.

In the end, what I was hoping to do with this matrix was to simply highlight a technique for choosing a web framework. Furthermore, I think adding a "weight" to each criteria is important because things like books often aren't as important as REST support. To show how this might be done, I added a second sheet to the matrix and made up some weighting numbers. I'd expect anyone that wants to use this to downloaded the matrix, verify the ratings are accurate for your beliefs and weight the criteria accordingly.

Of course, as I and many others have said, the best way to choose a web framework is to try them yourself. I emphasized this at the end of my presentation with the following two slides.

Slide #77 from Comparing JVM Web Frameworks Talk at RWX2010

Slide #76 from Comparing JVM Web Frameworks Talk at RWX2010

Posted in Java at Dec 06 2010, 11:55:18 AM MST 10 Comments

An Awesome Trip to Amsterdam and Antwerp for Devoxx 2010

I've often heard that Devoxx (formerly Javapolis) is one of the best Java-related conferences in the world. I've also heard it has the best speaking and viewing facilities (a movie theater) of any conference. When I was invited to speak earlier this year, I jumped at the opportunity. When I met Trish last summer, I even used it in a pickup line: "Wanna go to Belgium with me in November?"

I bet "chug your beer" for every touchdown with these 3 Last week was one of the most memorable weeks of my life. It all started with a tremendously fun Broncos vs. Chiefs game at Invesco Field in Denver. Trish's company, FishNet Security, was hosting a tailgate party and had rented a suite for the game. I was irrationally confident that the Broncos would win, so proceeded to place bets with many of her co-workers. Since FishNet is headquartered out of Kansas City, most of the folks in the suite were Kansas City fans. You can imagine my excitement when the CEO's wife agreed to chug a beer every time the Broncos scored. I talked a couple of other folks into the same bet and proceeded to giggle and grin for the duration of the 49-29 routing.

I tell this story because it put us in the perfect mood to begin our trip to Devoxx the next day.

Trish and I left Denver at noon on Monday, stopped in Chicago for a 2-hour layover and continued to Amsterdam on an overnight flight. In Chicago, we journeyed into the Red Carpet Club, where I performed a long overdue release of AppFuse. We'd both started to come down with my kids' cold, so we popped some NyQuil a couple hours into the flight and slept through the night.

Amsterdam
We arrived in Amsterdam on Tuesday morning and proceeded on a walkabout of the city. We stumbled into Dam Square, found some breakfast and checked our bags into a nearby hotel. Our first stop was the Van Gogh Museum, where we proceeded to enjoy the audio tour and learn about the life and works of Van Gogh. From there, we headed to the Heineken Brewery for a tour and some extra cold beers. While walking back to Amsterdam Central Station to catch a train to Antwerp, we stopped in at the Ice Bar to experience drinks in sub-zero temperatures. All the brochures said it was the #1 attraction in Amsterdam, but that was obviously just good marketing. Regardless, we enjoyed the "4D" experience and cool bartender tricks.

Beautiful day in Amsterdam Best. Travel Partner. Ever. Bikes Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

Heineken Brewery Be The Beer Extra Cold

Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities in the world, offering some of the best scenes and photo opportunities I've ever seen. We marveled at a gorgeous sunset over a canal on our walk back to the train station.

Sunset in Amsterdam

On the train to Antwerp, we scarfed down delicious bread and cheese, chased it with wine and watched a movie on my iPad. Upon arrival, we were instantly mesmerized by the architecture and beauty of the Antwerpen Centraal Station. We hailed a taxi and proceeded to our accommodations at the Holiday Inn Express.

Devoxx
I knew that Devoxx was a great conference and I could learn a lot by attending. However, it was also my first time in Belgium and I knew there was a lot to learn by exploring too. Much to my delight, while lying in bed on Wednesday morning, I quickly realized I could get all the key highlights via Twitter. I also learned that, as a speaker, I'd get full access to all the sessions via Parleys.com. So Wednesday was spent registering for the conference and traveling to Antwerp's shopping district to explore and drink a few delicious Belgium beers.

Hey Baby - wanna go to Devoxx with me? Shopping District with Antwerpen Centraal in the background Delicious Beer Always Time for a Guinness

That evening, we attended the Open Source Dinner at Zuiderterras with Mathias Bogaert, Tom Baeyens, a couple ZeroTurnaround guys, a few Struts 2 Developers and many other fun folks. We walked to Pelgrom after dinner and savored a few Kwaks in the coolest beer-drinking establishment I've ever been to.

Open Source Dinner Open Source Dinner Open Source Dinner Kwak!

On Thursday, we woke up early and walked the 35 minute journey to the conference to catch The Future Roadmap of Java EE talk. The session was so packed that many overflow rooms were created and we nestled ourselves into the front row of one across the hall. My talk on Comparing JVM Web Frameworks was next and I fought the crowd to get into the keynote room to deliver it. I don't know how many people attended (est. 500), but it was definitely the largest audience I'd ever spoken in front of. Based on Twitter mentions, the majority of people seemed to enjoy it and that put a smile on my face for the rest of the day.

Since Trish and I didn't have time for breakfast, we walked back to the hotel, dropped off my laptop and headed downtown to find some grub. We found Madre Tierra, had a delicious breakfast and continued on to Cathedral of Our Lady. The artwork inside was amazing, as demonstrated by the pictures below.

Cathedral of our Lady, Antwerp Cathedral of our Lady, Antwerp Cathedral of our Lady, Antwerp Cathedral of our Lady, Antwerp

That evening, we joined the Java Posse dinner at Pelgrom. This was a fun dinner where we got to sit with Dick Wall and Carl Quinn on one side and Mark Reinhold, Chet Haase and Romain Guy on the other. Good food, great beer and excellent conversation. From there, we met up with James Ward and other Adobe folks before attending the Devoxx party to close the night.

Partying with the Adobe Crew Devoxx Party with the Norway Crew

Friday, we slept in and tracked down some delicious Belgium Waffles at Désiré de Lille before catching a train to Ghent. We arrived at sunset, but that didn't stop Trish's Nikon D300 from capturing many spectacular shots throughout the night.

Waffles at Désiré de Lille

The Canal in Ghent Ghent Ghent

On Saturday, we began our journey back to the US, starting with taking the fast train from Antwerp to Amsterdam. We checked into a fancy hotel and snuggled in for a cozy dinner at Tibet Restaurant. We spent most of the night walking around, taking sweet photos and making our Irish heritage proud.

Amsterdam by Night Shooting the Swans Car Bombs in Amsterdam

Traveling to Belgium and speaking at Devoxx was definitely a highlight of my life. Not only were the sites fantastic, but the conference attendees were super nice and I had the best travel partner in the world. The beers were delicious, the food was excellent and I can't wait to return in the future. Thanks to the Devoxx Crew for having me!

To see all the pictures I took on this trip, check out my Devoxx 2010 set on Flickr.

Posted in Java at Nov 25 2010, 12:36:10 PM MST 5 Comments

My Comparing JVM Web Frameworks Presentation from Devoxx 2010

This week, I've been having a great time in Antwerp, Belgium at the Devoxx Conference. This morning, I had the pleasure of delivering my Comparing JVM Web Frameworks talk. I thoroughly enjoyed giving this presentation, especially to such a large audience. You can view the presentation below (if you have Flash installed) or download it here.

Unlike previous years, I chose to come up with a spreadsheet matrix that shows why I chose the 5 I did. This spreadsheet and rankings given to each framework are likely to be debated, as I don't know all the frameworks as well as I'd like to. Also, the missing column on this spreadsheet is a "weighting" column where you can prioritize certain criteria like I've done in the past when Comparing Ajax Frameworks. If you believe there are incorrect numbers, please let me know and I'll try to get those fixed before I do this talk again at The Rich Web Experience.

One thing that doesn't come across in this presentation is that I believe anyone can use this matrix, and weightings, to make any of these frameworks come out on top. I also believe web frameworks are like spaghetti sauce in The Ketchup Conundrum. That is, the only way to make more happy spaghetti sauce lovers was to make more types of spaghetti sauce. You can read more about this in my There is no "best" web framework article.

Update: If you disagree with the various ratings I gave to web frameworks in this presentation, please provide your opinions by filling out this survey. Thanks to Sebastien Arbogast for setting this up.

Update: Sebastien has posted his survey results at JVM Web Framework Survey, First Results.

Update 12/6: A video of this presentation is now available on Parleys.com.

P.S. My current gig is ending in mid-December. If you're looking for a UI Architect with a passion for open source frameworks, please let me know.

Posted in Java at Nov 18 2010, 05:23:10 AM MST 39 Comments

AppFuse 2.1 Milestone 2 Released

I'm pleased to announce the 2nd 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 Spring 3 and Struts 2.1. This release fixes many issues with archetypes and contains many improvements to support Maven 3. For more details on specific changes see the 2.1.0 M2 release notes.

What is AppFuse?
AppFuse is an open source project and application that uses open source frameworks to help you develop Web applications quickly and efficiently. It was originally developed to eliminate the ramp-up time when building new web applications. 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. If you use JRebel with AppFuse, you can achieve zero-turnaround in your project and develop features without restarting the server.

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 with 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".

AppFuse comes in a number of different flavors. It offers "light", "basic" and "modular" and archetypes. Light archetypes use an embedded H2 database and contain a simple CRUD example. In the final 2.1.0 release, the light archetypes will allow code generation like the basic and modular archetypes. Basic archetypes have web services using CXF, authentication from Spring Security and features including signup, login, file upload and CSS theming. Modular archetypes are similar to basic archetypes, except they have multiple modules which allows you to separate your services from your web project.

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.

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 Spring MVC and Tapestry is a whole new framework. I'll be working on documentation over the next several weeks in preparation for the 2.1 final release.

For information on creating a new project, please see the QuickStart Guide.

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 patches, writing documentation and participating on the mailing lists.

Posted in Java at Nov 15 2010, 03:28:57 PM MST 2 Comments

RE: Moving from Spring to Java EE 6: The Age of Frameworks is Over

Last Tuesday, Cameron McKenzie wrote an interesting article on TheServerSide titled Moving from Spring to Java EE 6: The Age of Frameworks is Over. In this article, Cameron says the following:

J2EE represents the past, and Java EE 6 represents the future. Java EE 6 promises us the ability to go beyond frameworks. Frameworks like Spring are really just a bridge between the mistakes of the J2EE past and the success of the Java EE 6 future. Frameworks are out, and extensions to the Java EE 6 platform are in. Now is the time to start looking past Spring, and looking forward to Seam and Weld and CDI technologies.

He then links to an article titled Spring to Java EE - A Migration Experience, an article written by JBoss's Lincoln Baxter. In this article, Lincoln talks about many of the technologies in Java EE 6, namely JPA, EJB, JSF, CDI and JAX-RS. He highlights all the various XML files you'll need to know about and the wide variety of Java EE 6 application servers: JBoss AS 6 and GlassFish v3.

I don't have a problem with Lincoln's article, in fact I think it's very informative and some of the best documentation I've seen for Java EE 6.

I do have some issues with Cameron's statements that frameworks are mistakes of the J2EE past and that Java EE 6 represents the future. Open source frameworks made J2EE successful. Struts and Hibernate came out in the early days of J2EE and still exist today. Spring came out shortly after and has turned into the do-everything J2EE implementation it was trying to fix. Java EE 6 might be a better foundation to build upon, but it's certainly not going to replace frameworks.

To prove my point, let's start by looking at the persistence layer. We used to have Hibernate based on JDBC, now we have JPA implementations built on top of the JPA API. Is JPA a replacement for all persistence frameworks? I've worked with it and think it's a good API, but the 2.0 version isn't available in a Maven repo and Alfresco recently moved away from Hibernate (which == JPA IMO) to iBATIS for greater data access layer control and scalability. Looks like the age of frameworks isn't over for persistence frameworks.

The other areas that Java EE 6 covers that I believe frameworks will continue to excel in: EJB, CDI, JSF and JAX-RS. Personally, I don't have a problem with EJB 3 and think it's a vast improvement on EJB 2.x. I don't have an issue with CDI either, and as long as it resembles Guice for dependency injection, it works for me. However, when you get into the space I've been living in for the last couple years (high-traffic public internet sites), EJB and things like the "conversation-scope" feature of CDI don't buy you much. The way to make web application scale is to eliminate state and cache as much as possible, both of which Java EE doesn't provide much help for. In fact, to disable sessions in a servlet-container, you have to write a Filter like the following:

public class DisabledSessionFilter extends OncePerRequestFilter {

    /**
     * Filters requests to disable URL-based session identifiers.
     */
    @Override
    protected void doFilterInternal(final HttpServletRequest request,
                                    final HttpServletResponse response,
                                    final FilterChain chain)
            throws IOException, ServletException {

        HttpServletRequestWrapper wrappedRequest = new HttpServletRequestWrapper(request) {

            @Override
            public HttpSession getSession(final boolean create) {
                if (create) {
                    throw new UnsupportedOperationException("Session support disabled");
                }
                return null;
            }

            @Override
            public HttpSession getSession() {
                throw new UnsupportedOperationException("Session support disabled");
            }
        };

        // process next request in chain
        chain.doFilter(wrappedRequest, response);
    }
}

What about JAX-RS? Does it replace the need for frameworks? I like the idea of having a REST API in Java. However, its reference implementation is Jersey, which seems more like a framework than just Java EE. If you choose to use JAX-RS in your application, you still have to choose between CXF, Jersey, RESTEasy and Restlet. I compared these frameworks last year and found the Java EE implementation lacking in the features I needed.

Finally, let's talk about my-least-framework-web-framework: JSF. The main reason I don't like JSF is because of its 1.x version. JSF 1.0 was released a year before the Ajax term was coined (see timeline below). Not only did it take forever to develop as a spec, but it tried to be a client-component framework that was very stateful by default.

History of Web Frameworks

Now that JSF 2.0 is out, it has Ajax integrated and allows you to use GET instead of POST-for-everything. However, the only people that like Ajax integrated into their web frameworks are programmers scared of JavaScript (who probably shouldn't be developing your UI). Also, the best component development platform for the web is JavaScript. I recommend using an Ajax framework for your components if you really want a rich UI.

Sure you can use the likes of Tapestry and Wicket if you like POJO-based web development, but if you're looking to develop a webapp that's easy to maintain and understand, chances are that you'll do much better with traditional MVC frameworks like Spring MVC and Struts 2. The simplicity and popularity of Rails and Grails further emphasize that developers prefer these types of web frameworks.

Another reason I don't like JSF: there's very few developers in the wild happy with it. The major promoters of JSF are book authors, trainers, Java EE Vendors and MyFaces developers. Whenever I speak at conferences, I ask folks to raise their hands for the various web frameworks they're using. I always ask the JSF users to keep their hands up if they like it. Rarely do they stay up.

So it looks like we still need web frameworks.

Eberhard Wolff has an interesting post where he defends Spring and talks about the productivity comparisons between Spring and Java EE. He recommends using Grails or Spring Roo if you want the level of productivity that Ruby on Rails provides. That's a valid recommendation if you're building CRUD-based webapps, but I haven't developed those in quite some time. Nowadays, the apps I develop are true SOFEA apps, where the backend serves up XML or JSON and the frontend client is HTML/JavaScript/CSS, Android, iPad or Sony Blu-Ray players. On my current project, our services don't even talk to a database, they talk to a CMS via RESTful APIs. We use Spring's RestTemplate for this and HttpClient when it doesn't have the features we need. Not much in Java EE 6 for this type of communication. Sure, Jersey has a client, but it's certainly not part of the Java EE spec.

As far as getting Ruby on Rails' zero-turnaround productivity, I don't need Grails or Spring Roo, I simply use IDEA and JRebel.

Conclusion
I don't see how new features in Java EE 6 can mean the age of frameworks is over. Java SE and J2EE have always been foundations for frameworks. The Java EE 6 features are often frameworks in themselves that can be used outside of a Java EE container. Furthermore, Java EE 6 doesn't provide all the features you need to build a high-scale web app today. There's no caching, no stateless web framework that can serve up JSON and HTML and no hot-reload productivity enhancements like JRebel. Furthermore, there's real excitement in Javaland for languages like Scala, Groovy and JRuby. All of these languages have web frameworks that've made many developers happy.

Here's to the Age of Frameworks - may it live as long as the JVM!

P.S. If you'd like to hear me talk about web frameworks on the JVM, I'll be speaking at The Colorado Springs Open Source Meetup and Devoxx 2010 in the near future.

Posted in Java at Oct 16 2010, 03:19:07 PM MDT 37 Comments

My Incredible Trip to Ireland

If you ever get a chance to travel to Ireland, take it! I don't know when I heard these words, or how they came into my head, but I remembered them clearly when I was first introduced to Barry Alistair by Jeff Genender. Soon after, I was able to negotiate my way into being a speaker at The 2010 Irish Software Show.

The show was last week and I had a blast traveling to Dublin to speak and explore. My sister came me on this trip, but missed a connection in Seattle and had to join me a day late. I left Denver at noon on Monday and arrived at Dublin Airport at 7 am. I was on the same flight as Josh Long and thoroughly enjoyed my iPad as a travel companion. When I got off the plane, my battery life was at 60% and I'd been watching movies and listening to music for 6 hours.

I took a cab through the misty, cool morning to my hotel. I grabbed a coffee, cleaned up, and walked a few blocks to Trinity College for the conference. I made it in time for the opening keynote by Chris Horn. It was an interesting talk, focusing on what needed to happen to make Ireland the Innovation Hub of Europe. After that, I attended Tim Berglund's session on Complexity Theory and Software Development. After lunch and a few more talks, I teamed up with Andres Almiray and Josh Long for a pint at the hotel bar.

That evening, we attended Jeff Genender's talk on Getting into Open Source. The free drinks loosened everyone up and Jeff did a great job with a humorous presentation on how to get Committer Status. After Jeff's talk, about 10 of us headed to a Moroccan restaurant for a late dinner. I was in bed around midnight.

Andres Almiray and Josh Long The Genenders Heading for Indian After Jeff's Talk Streets of Dublin in the early morning

Wednesday morning, my sister arrived in my hotel room at 8 and promptly fell into bed. I set my alarm to sleep an hour and closed the Vegas-style, no-light-allowed curtains. We awoke much later (12:30) than we'd planned (9:00). We quickly got up and headed for some sight-seeing in Dublin. First off, we hit Dublinia and Christ Church Cathedral. Both sites were spectacular and we both learned a lot about the history of Dublin. From there, we skipped across the bridge to The Old Jameson Distillery for a tour and a bit of whiskey.

Runes Exhibit in Dublinia Christ Church Cathedral and Dublinia Tasting Whiskey The 18 Year

The picture below was taken on the Ha'penny Bridge as we were heading back from Jameson. The expression of the girl on the left is priceless.

Kalin on the Half Penny

A couple hours later and I was delivering my talk on The Future of Web Frameworks. The crowd was lively; the Guinness I drank while talking was lovely. My session was followed by a Web Framework Experts Panel with Peter Ledbrook (Grails), Jamie van Dyke (Rails), Shay Friedman (ASP.NET MVC), Julian Fitzell (Seaside) and myself (Java Frameworks). The debate was good and there was much discussion about the right apps for each framework and how important statelessness is for scalable applications. After 3 hours of talking, my sister and I headed back to the hotel. I was particularly happy about the evening since it was the first time a family member of mine had seen me speak.

Correction from my Dad: This wasn't the first time a family member saw me speak. He attended my talk at ApacheCon EU 2007.

A block from the hotel, we spotted a nice looking pub (Doyles) and stopped in for a pint. As we bellied up to the end of the bar, we recognized Jamie (from the panel) and got introduced to his friend Rob. We quickly got lost in conversation, stories and laughter and were surprised when we discovered it was 2:30am. Since I had a talk first thing in the morning, we ducked out shortly after.

Web Framework Experts Panel Barry on Evangelist Night The Night we met Jamie and Rob

Thursday started with my talk Comparing Kick-Ass Web Frameworks. Then my sister and I did some more site-seeing, starting at the Guinness Storehouse. We met Josh and John Willis as they were leaving and they advised we go straight to The Gravity Bar at the top. We took there advise and were getting great views of Dublin and savoring sweet pints of Guinness moments later. The tour facility was freakin' awesome and I loved how it was shaped like a pint glass.

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

We grabbed some gear from the gift shopped and landed (by accident) at The Brazen Head (Ireland's Oldest Pub, Est. 1198) for a pint of cider and Guinness. Since my sister used to be in the cider business, she was particularly happy there was so much on tap in Ireland.

From the pub, we headed to John Willis's session on The Cambrian Cloud Explosion. Following John's session, we headed to the Speaker's Dinner for a very fun evening with the hosts and speakers of the conference.

John Willis and Barry Alistair Speaker's Dinner at Irish Software Show 2010 Speaker's Dinner at Irish Software Show 2010 Speaker's Dinner at Irish Software Show 2010

Speaker's Dinner at Irish Software Show 2010 Speaker's Dinner at Irish Software Show 2010 Speaker's Dinner at Irish Software Show 2010

On Friday, we woke up in the early afternoon and quickly decided the Book of Kells was our best chance of getting some site seeing in. After visiting the Book of Kells, my favorite quote of the conference happened in the courtyard.

Josh looked at Jamie (with his bad hangover) and exclaimed, "My God Man. Your skin is so white it's hurting my eyes!". You probably had to be there (or know Josh) to enjoy the humor, but I wanted to capture the memory in this post so I could laugh whenever I read this in the future. After that, Jamie, Josh, Kalin and I enjoyed a Starbuck's patio talking about living in the South of France for a couple hours. Then we walked 2 blocks to the Porterhouse Brewing Co. to watch the World Cup and enjoy more interesting conversations.

The Book of Kells Jamie with the Wenches Lovely Wenches Jamie and his Lady Drink

Jamie left the conference that evening and we joined a whole slew of other speakers for dinner at an excellent Lebanese restaurant near Temple Bar. Good times where had afterwards at a nearby Silent Disco.

Kalin and Craig Post Absinthe

Saturday, we woke up early to catch a tour bus out to Glendalough with Josh and John. The bus ride was not pleasant, but the destination was spectacular. We hung out there for several hours, exploring the buildings, walking to the lake and humoring each other.

Glendalough Beautiful Views at Glendalough Glendalough Lower Lake at Glendalough

Our last night in Dublin was an early, relaxing one. As you can tell, I really enjoyed this trip, particularly hanging out with my sister and all the cool people we met. I can easily say that this trip registers as one of my favorite conference experiences to date.

To see all the pictures I took on this trip, check out my Irish Software Show 2010 set on Flickr.

Posted in Java at Jun 14 2010, 11:42:55 PM MDT Add a Comment

My Presentations from The Irish Software Show 2010

This week I've been enjoying Dublin, Ireland thanks to the 2nd Annual Irish Software Show. On Wednesday night, I spoke about The Future of Web Frameworks and participated in a panel with Grails, Rails, ASP.NET MVC and Seaside developers. It was a fun night with lots of lively discussion. Below is my presentation from this event.

This morning, I delivered my Comparing Kick-Ass Web Frameworks talk. This presentation contains updated statistics for various metrics comparing Rails vs. Grails and Flex vs. GWT.

Thanks to all who attended my talks this week!

P.S. I believe audio was recorded on Wednesday night, but I'm unsure how it turned out. I'm pretty sure no recordings were done on this morning's session.

Posted in Java at Jun 10 2010, 07:11:35 AM MDT 9 Comments