Tapestry Training -- From The Source

Let me help you get your team up to speed in Tapestry ... fast. Visit howardlewisship.com for details on training, mentoring and support!

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Tapestry at JavaOne 2006

I'm 50% for JavaOne this year; a BOF session for Tapestry ("The Component Edge: Creating and Using Components with Tapestry") was accepted, but a more introductory Tapestry session, like last year's, got passed over. I guess by JavaOne 2007 I'll be able to talk about Tapestry 5 :-).

As a BOF, there will be much more opportunity for interaction with the audience, and room for others to discuss what they are doing with Tapestry, which I think is exciting. No word on scheduling yet, beyond the May 16 - 19th for the overall conference. I probably won't stay for more than a day or two this year, as I have to be in London on the 22nd.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Tapestry/HiveMind Interview on Java Posse

The Java Posse just put up my PodCast interview about Tapestry and HiveMind that also touches on Spring, EJB3, WebObjects, JMS, Reflection ... you name it! I kind of expected them to edit it down a bit more than they did ... and they certainly left in a number of things I consider flubs! It's about 59 minutes long and was a lot of fun to do. Apologies in advance for everyone whose name I forgot or screwed up (yes, its Hugo Palma who's working on the Tapestry IntelliJ plugin).

Side note to the entire world: It's HiveMind; the "M" is upper case. Like my mother-in-law has said to my wife Suzanne: "If I had wanted to call you Suzy, that's what I would have named you."

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

VMWare a qualified success

I blogged previously about my experiments with VMWare, and now I'm actually using this approach to my Tapestry Workshop at a customer site.

I'd call it a qualified success and I will follow this approach further. Perhaps the biggest problem was the setting on the VM's memory size ... it was set to 512MB, but the client machines only had about 512MB of physical RAM and this caused a lot of thrash. Dropping this to 256MB (which can be done by editting the .vmx file, or as an option inside a launched VMWare image) made all the difference. This is certainly something that will take some care.

Performance seems to be reasonable. Of the ten students, eight are working fine, one has a few mysterious problems and may have to reload his image from the DVD and the last decided to "go it alone" and copy the labs off of the CD and work on his native desktop (in other words, follow the pattern I've used in previous Tapestry workshops).

Right now, we're using a Windows XP image and that's causing some problems; I'm in the process of building out a Mandriva Linux image instead ... no licensing concerns, and will probably outperform Windows XP by a good margin.

On the one hand, this client is a good choice for the experiment ... the desktops in their training center are uniform and recent (if not powerhouses). On the other hand, no previous clients I've trained had such a setup, so I'm still concerned about facing a more typical client ... one with a tangle of varied laptops and hand-me-down desktops of all shapes and descriptions.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Another article on Tapestry at DevX

DevX has just posted Rapid Java Web Application Development with Tapestry. It's a very fast paced intro to Tapestry and is balanced (yes, Tapestry does have its share of quirks!).

I've been doing my best to push Tapestry over the top for a couple of years now, ever since I left my last full time job and became a consultant. Tapestry really feels there, with more and more people jumping on the bandwagon (in a positive way).

Even here in Portland, I've already met with three different organizations that use Tapestry exclusively and love it. It's another sign that moving away from Boston was good for body and soul.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Getting started with VMWare

I got a great suggestion from one of the developers at shopping.com: Make use of the recent VMWare free player to setup the Tapestry Workshop environment. I had been aware of VMWare in the past (when smart people like Craig Dodson or Greg Burd swear by a product, you should take notice).

So what's VMWare? It's a virtual computer within your computer. It allows one physical workstation to act as if it were several different computers. This is incredibly useful in a large number of scenarios; my friend Scott was using it when developing Windows device drivers ... he could install the drivers into a virtual machine and when it blew chunks, instantly reset its state back to before the driver wreaked havok. People have used it to run multiple versions of Windows, just so they can run multiple versions of Internet Explorer for cross-release browser compatibility. You can also use it to run alternate operating systems ... run a Linux environment from inside windows, for example.

In fact, at this very moment, I'm installing Windows XP to a VM inside my new desktop ... even while iTunes is running on my non-virtual OS. It's even properly mixing the music with sound effects from the Windows XP installer.

My goal is to create a VMWare image containing my Tapestry Workshop environment. Using the free VMWare player, and a copy of my image, people will have the entire stack .. from the JDK, to Eclipse, to the plugins and projects, to Jetty and FireFox all pre-configured and installed and ready to start with the first lab. This has been taking as much as half a day to accomplish at most clients ... valuable time, and a distraction from people's excitement about learning Tapestry.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Subclipse new project tricks

I go through a little rigamarole every time I start a new project in Eclipse; I use a Subversion repository (locally, or on Apache, or on JavaForge) and I use the Subclipse plugin.

Subclipse is nice, but weakest on the things you do least often, such as creating a project.

I always start in the SVN Navigator; I create my new folder for my project.

I then share the project; I chose the "Use specified folder name". Next, I hit the browse button and select the folder I just created in the navigator.

Back to the Share Project dialog; the cursor will be in the folder name field, and the text "New Folder" will be selected, ready for me to type "trunk".

When I hit OK, we switch over the a synchronize dialog to do the initial checkin. The bin folder will be in the list of resources to check in ... simply uncheck it for now. Then hit OK to check everything else in.

Because you didn't check in the bin folder, your project will appear dirty. That's OK. Now comes the real trick:

  • Execute a "Replace With Latest" (not an update) on your project.
  • Close and Re-Open your project (to get rid of the .svn folder that shouldn't be displayed, but is)
  • Now, use the Team > Add to svn:ignore context menu item on the bind folder
  • Finally, check in your changes (which will appear to be a change just to the project folder itself ... that's where svn:ignore data lives)

Why is this necessary? Somehow during the initial check in, the local project gets out of synch with the repository. I know not what or why, but it's been very consistent against every repository I use, so I think it is a Subclipse problem. If you don't do the replace with latest trick, you will get incredibly annoying SVN errors when you try to mark bin to be ignored ... you just won't be able to check in your project.

Maven and missing Java Transaction API JAR

I'm starting to work on a new demo for Tapestry 4.0 that will be based on Hibernate3, and I want to build on Maven. Of course, the first thing that happened is that I tried to have Maven resolve the dependencies and it tripped over the JAR for the Java Transaction API.

Now, a little background. The JTA is under some Sun license that keeps it from being distributed; so Maven has the POM for it in the central repository, but doesn't store the JAR file itself. So what do you do?

You have to get the JAR file yourself, and convince Maven to load it into your local repository.

Not that Sun makes it easy for you ... oh no. You have to click through a license agreement, then you get the class files, packaged as a ZIP file. This is insane! You'd think they would know what a JAR file is! Why not package the JAR inside the ZIP, maybe with a license and some documentation? Because that would make sense.

I suppose you could just rename the jta-1.0.1B.zip to jta-1.0.1B.jar and go from there. I chose to build a proper JAR first. I started by unpacking into a local directory, then used the jar command as normal:

bash-3.00$ ls -lag
total 0
drwx------+  3 None 0 Jan 12 18:27 ./
drwx------+ 22 None 0 Jan 12 18:27 ../
drwx------+  3 None 0 Jan 12 18:27 javax/
bash-3.00$ jar cf ../jta-1.0.1B.jar *
bash-3.00$ cd ..
bash-3.00$ jar tf jta-1.0.1B.jar

Next up, convincing Maven to put it into the repository in the correct place:

bash-3.00$ mvn install:install-file -Dfile=jta-1.0.1B.jar -DgroupId=javax.transaction -DartifactId=jta -Dversion=1.0.1B -Dpackaging=jar
[INFO] Scanning for projects...
[INFO] Searching repository for plugin with prefix: 'install'.
[INFO] ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
[INFO] Building Maven Default Project
[INFO]    task-segment: [install:install-file] (aggregator-style)
[INFO] ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
[INFO] [install:install-file]
[INFO] Installing c:\temp\jta-1.0.1B.jar to C:\Documents and Settings\Howard\.m2\repository\javax\transaction\jta\1.0.1B\jta-1.0.1B.jar
[INFO] ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
[INFO] ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
[INFO] Total time: 1 second
[INFO] Finished at: Thu Jan 12 18:29:55 PST 2006
[INFO] Final Memory: 2M/3M
[INFO] ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

And, with that, you have the JTA jar, in place, ready to use in your projects.

Is Tapestry "The" Web Framework?

Gregg Bolinger thinks so. I'm glad he's having such a good time with Tapestry!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Tapestry Get-Together / Portland, OR

I'm having a little Tapestry get-together meet-and-greet next week (Jan. 18th) here in Portland. This is just a chance for me to meet people in the area, with Tapestry being a convienient conversation starter. We'll be meeting at Henry's Tavern. Discussions should include who'se using Tapestry and how, and where Tapestry is headed in the future. Drop me a line and I'll add you to the e-vite!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Tapestry for IDEA

Hugo Palma is now working on an IntelliJ plugin for Tapestry: Tapestry for IDEA. He appears to be factoring out the non-Eclipse specific code from Spindle, and reconnecting it inside IDEA's APIs. It's not clear how far along this process he is, but he is promising to post screenshots shortly.

2006 looks like a true banner year for Tapestry!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Comments now moderated

Well, the latest scumbags have found a way to make life suck for everyone ... in this case, blogger.com is letting spammers post ads for DVDs on my blog. In the meantime, I'm now moderating comments.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Tapestry on Slashdot

Is it a sign of my personal immaturity that seeing a Slashdot article on Tapestry made my heart skip a beat? This is Slashdot covering the DeveloperWorks article and caught me by surprise. Let the fud/counter-fud begin!

Phew! Tapestry 4.0 is final!

Tapestry 4.0 (final) has been released. This is a great relief to me, because I really think I could explode, or at least spontaneously combust, if this didn't happen.

I'm exceptionally proud of this release; to some degree, we've rewritten Tapestry from the inside out. The new structure, based on HiveMind, makes Tapestry exceptionally extensible, and performance appears to be better than Tapestry 3.0 (so much less reflection going on). More importantly, the coding model has improved quite a bit. Component parameters now just work ... no fumbling with "direction", listener methods are really flexible and easy to use, the validation framework is much, much simpler, and the annotation support (still optional in 4.0) is very succinct and code-focused.

We're already doing some planning for Tapestry 4.1 which better not take two years ... I'm hoping more like 6 - 9 months. I have several tasks on my plate:

  • A fast, useable, productized integration test suite (that can be used to test applications)
  • Convert to a Maven 2 build
  • Rework form support to eliminate the rewind phase
  • Remove the need for pages and components to extend from Tapestry base classes

Meanwhile, time to sit back and see what people make of this new release.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Servlet 2.5: Where's the regexp?

Seeing the new features in Servlet API 2.5, the feature I most needed, regular expression matching, was missing. Regular expressions are in JDK 1.4 and above (Servlet 2.5 requires JDK 1.5), so its pretty amazing that a basic feature like this is missing. Certainly, there's a long history of using regexp to map paths, as built into Apache (especially mod_rewrite).

I was really hoping for this feature, to support even friendlier URLs.

Other features I'd like to see:

  • Proper notifications about session synchronization events --- I want to know when an object is being de-serialized from another server in the cluster so I can set up some necessary ThreadLocals
  • Programatic login, and the ability to provide an application-specific login page --- I want to be able to use Tapestry's superior form support to manage logins
  • Failover notification --- I think servlets should support clustering without sharing data, but providing a notification when a failover has occured. Data could be stored in the HttpSession, but would not be replicated. This would give a good middle-ground between single-server and enterprise cluster.
  • Servlet meta-data access --- servlets should be able to find out about their URL patterns and filters

I probably could go on ... I've been working around the Servlet API for quite some time.

Meanwhile, there are some improvements. The DTDs have been simplified (allowing multiple URL patterns per servlet is a step in the right direction --- how about allowing the mapping right inside the <servlet> itself?) The new annotation support looks quite nice ... in fact, putting annotations on fields instead of on methods is the (long term) way to get Tapestry away from using abstract classes, and I can almost smell the bytecode enhancement in the approach implied by the @Resource annotation.

Setting up Tapestry

I had a present this morning, as I scanned my favorite web sites ... an article on DeveloperWorks: In tune with Tapestry by Brett McLaughlin. This is a nice, fully fleshed out article about how to set up Tapestry, build it from source, and run the demos and tutorials.

There are days when I feel the weight of the Tapestry community firm and square on my shoulders, and then there are great days like this ... where the community really gives back. These are the days that remind me of what a giant killer Tapestry can be.