This is my 2nd day in Vegas and so far this town is treating me fairly well. I haven't lost all of my money, but the $25/hand blackjack tables haven't been kind. Yesterday, I woke up with a glass full of Berocca next to my bed - which means I passed out before drinking it. I needed it too, Matt Filios won a poker tourney and a bunch of us enjoyed "bottle table" (with Kettle One vodka) to celebrate. Spendy and good, but painful the next day.
Last night, I heard it was Crazy Bob's bachelor party, so I went to bed early to avoid the debauchery. Julie and a good friend of mine are flying in tonight, so there will be plenty of that this evening. So after a good night's sleep, I'm up early and attending the conference. The first hour has a lot of good sessions: Introduction to Seam (Gavin), Dive into RIFE (Geert), OSWorkflow (Hani) and Transforming Enterprise Java into a Commodity (Geir).
I'm sitting in Geert Bevin's session titled "Dive into RIFE" and it's a pretty small audience - maybe 20 people. Geert is the CTO of Uwyn, a small custom application development company. He's the founder of RIFE and creator of many RIFE projects: RIFE/Crud, RIFE/Jumpstart, RIFE/Continuations, Bamboo (forum), Bla-bla List (RIA todo list), Drone (Information bot) and Elephant (blog).
What is RIFE? It's a full-stack component framework to quickly and consistently develop and maintain Java web applications.
- Integrated layers allow you to quickly get results with a minimal amount of code
- Best practices are enforced in a pleasant way, providing many additional features and a consistent approach throughout all applications
- Components can easily be resused in many contexts
- Creating maintainable applications is our first goal
- A lot of attention goes to code-level developer comfort
- Frustration reduction by instant changes and reloads
- Creative solutions for difficult problems
- Embraces established standards (XHTML, HTTP, SQL, ...)
- Geared to developing web applications and doesn't abstract away too much
- Everything besides the web engine is designed to be independently usable
- Attention to the whole life-cycle of your application
Geer is now talking about all the different pieces of RIFE - how it has a JDBC abstraction like Spring JDBC, web services support (even publishing of RSS Feeds) and a content management framework. Now we're going to look at RIFE/Jumpstart.
What is RIFE/Jumpstart? It's a source archive that you unzip and run. It makes it easy to start with new RIFE applications and contains everything you need (including Jetty). It has immediate support for more common development environments (X-develop, Netbeans, Eclipse, IDEA and Ant). Geert just showed us a video of getting started with Jumpstart and how you can easily use X-develop to build and deploy the app to Jetty. The Jumpstart application currently uses JUnit, but since the RIFE teams is starting to use TestNG more and more, it's likely they'll change in the near future. RIFE Jumpstart looks similar to AppFuse, except they have the save+reload problem solved - using JVM HotSwapping.
Now I've moved to the Introduction to Seam session. Gavin King is the presenter and the room is packed. It's a big room, so that's saying a lot. Gavin is talking about JSF, how backing beans work and what's in the faces-config.xml. How does Seam compare to J2EE? Much simpler code. There's fewer artifacts (no DTOs). Less noise (EJB boilerplate, Struts boilerplate). More transparent (no direct calls to HttpSession or HttpRequest). It's also much more powerful for complex problems.
JSF is amazingly flexible and extensive. EJB interceptors support a kind of "AOP lite" and EJB3 is a powerful ORM engine. Everything (except for the JSP pages) is unit testable can be tested with JUnit or TestNG. For testing the view layer, Gavin recommends using Selenium.
A backing bean is often "pure glue" and is just noise. Furthermore, it accounts for more LOC than any other component. It doesn't really decouple layers, in fact the couple is more coupled than it otherwise would be. Gavin calls this "wedding cake architecture." These applications look good in the window, but don't taste good when you eat them. I get his point, but have to disagree on the taste of wedding cake. It's always been good at the wedding's I've attended. ;-)
By default, web applications in general do not work in a multi-window application. To make it work, it generally requires a major architecture change. A couple of other areas for improvement in traditional web applications: application leaks memory (not cleaning up session objects) and "flow" is weakly defined. Navigation rules are totally ad hoc and difficult to visualize. How can this code be aware of the long-running business process?
JBoss Seam - what does it do? It unifies the EJB3 and JSF component models. It simplifies Java EE 5, filling a gap. In addition, it integrates jBPM and makes it more developer-friendly. Deprecate so-called stateless architecture. Decouple the technology from the execution environment. Run EJB3 apps in Tomcat or in TestNG or use Seam with JavaBeans and Hibernate. Gavin is using Tomcat for the first time and thinks it's hot-deploy architecture is totally broken. Of course, he usually uses JBoss and never has a problem with hot-deploy. It's interesting to hear this from Gavin, especially since I've heard from others that Hibernate breaks the reloading - and it's not the server's fault.
I'm going to head to another session now, but I did look ahead at some of Gavin's slides. Interestingly enough, the jPBM pageflow definition's XML looks quite similar to Spring Web Flow. Speaking of flows, I heard an interesting comments from someone yesterday after they attended Geert's continuations talk. Apparently, after seeing his talk, they think that RIFE's continuations offer a much more elegant solution to pageflow than these "XML programming" mechanisms.
I tried to go to Hani's OSWorkflow talk, but he was doing Q&A when I walked in. Apparently, he finished 25 minutes early. Then I walked into Geir's talk only to find Dan Deiphouse finishing up an XFire talk. Oh well, there's nothing wrong with having a few minutes to mingle between talks.