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Friday, September 23, 2005

TheServerSide Software Problems

It's discouraging to see news stories on TheServerSide.com about their ongoing software problems. TSS has been a banner site for Tapestry, and chatter about problems makes for bad Tapestry press.

The basic issue is that I signed on with The Middleware Company to do a number of phases of development for TheServerSide.com. The first phase was the basic translation of the site to a component object model, leaving all the functionality unchanged.

At the same time this was occuring, a seperate team was converting the backend access from entity EJBs to Solarmetric Kodo.

In the end, I had less than a week to integrate the two before going live. And yet, for the most part, the result was quite succesful -- measured partly by the amount of time that passed before anyone realized that the site had been almost completely rewritten.

However, with the acquisition of The Middleware Company by Tech Target, my involvement with TSS came to an end; the later, more interesting phases, where we simplified the stack and built considerable UI improvements, has not come to pass. All I've seen is the introduction of more and more ads on the site.

I can't talk to the root problem today; it is incredible frustrating that many posts get accepted and lost. That speaks to some horrible issue with transaction management and the database. Interestingly, TechTarget has not approached me for help ... this also speaks volumes as to where the problems lie.

From observation, and from discussions with Joe Ottinger, I do know that Tapestry is doing exactly what its supposed to be doing, that the functionality problems (missing posts and such) are a problem at the application layer (the stateless session bean used to manage transactions) and the interaction between that layer, Kodo, Coherence, JBoss and the PostgreSQL database. In fact, given the simplicity of the database schema (just six or eight tables) I suspect the problem really is in the configuration and integration of these elements.

Based on what I've read, and some high level discussions I had with them last winter, I believe TechTarget is building a single enterprise wide solution for all their many web sites, migrating away from the Tcl-based Vignette solution used by the majority of their sites, as well as the Tapestry-based solution for TSS.com and TSS.net. All I know about the solution is that it will be based on JEE (assuming that hasn't changed since our discussions).

1 comment:

Joseph Ottinger said...

Hey, Howard. As I said on TSS, it's not Tapestry's fault. There are issues with the Tapestry front end, but that's not laid at your feet in any way.

We're working on it, I promise.