Tapestry Training -- From The Source

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

In The Brain Of Howard Lewis Ship

SkillsMatter Logo While I'm in London for three days of Tapestry 5 Training, I'll also be giving an evening In The Brain Of talk ... on Tapestry, because there's not that much else rattling around my brain lately. Whereas Ben's talk was about lessons learned at the tail end of a Tapestry project, my talk gives you a point of reference on what Tapestry is all about, and why you want to start using it.

Swing by, take in the talk, and come on out for a pint or two! The talk is Tuesday, April 13th at 18:30.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Getting Ready for SkillsMatter Training

Talk about putting too much on your plate ... I'm working to update my existing Tapestry workshop to release 5.2, even though it is an alpha snapshot. The new features, especially live class reloading in the services layer, are just too useful to ignore.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Improvements to Live Class Reloading in 5.2

I just spent the morning making some improvements and fixes to live class reloading. The umbrella for reloading has now extended to any class that Tapestry instantiates ... whether is by ObjectLocator.proxy() or any variation of Configuration.addInstance(). In all those cases, when Tapestry is doing the instantiating, and there's a service interface, what gets created is a reloadable proxy ... as long as there is a class file available.

The interesting part is that for development you get the live class reloading behavior. In production, you will not, because all the classes will be packaged up in JARs, not on the file system.

Tapestry Training Returns to London: April 14 - 16, 2010

I'll be returning to SkillsMatter to teach my Tapestry workshop. The course runs from April 14th to the 16th. I had a great time teaching the course back in February: SkillsMatter has a great facility, just perfect for a hands-on class like this one.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Procrastination and JavaOne 2010: See you in 2011!

Well, that's what I get for waiting until the last day ... by the time I had a chance to put together a submission or two for JavaOne 2010, the site was down (from about 10pm on). Kind of frustrating, I was looking forward to talking about Tapestry and Clojure (my main speaking staples) in front of another big crowd.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Live Service Reloading in Tapestry 5.2

A common question I get during Tapestry training sessions is: Why can't Tapestry reload my services as well as my pages and components?. It does seem odd that I talk about how agile Tapestry is, with the live class reloading, and how nicely OO it is, what with services ... but when you move common logic to a service, you lose the agility because services do not live reload.

This came up yet again, during my latest training session, in London.

I've considered this before, and I've been opposed to live service reloading for a couple of reasons. First, live reloading requires creating new class loaders, and that causes conflicts with other frameworks and libraries. You get those crazy ClassCastExceptions even though the class name is correct (same name, different class loader, different class). Further, in Tapestry IoC, services can be utilized to make contributions to other services ... changing one service implementation, or one module, can cause a ripple effect across an untraceable number of other services. How do you know what needs to be reloaded or re-initialized?

When I last really considered this, back in the HiveMind days, my conclusion was that it was not possible to create a perfect reloading process: one that would ensure that the live-reloaded Registry (and all of its services with all their internal state) would be an exact match for what configuration you'd get by doing a cold restart.

So I shelved the idea, thinking that simply redeploying the WAR containing the application (and the services and modules) would accomplish the desired effect.

But as they say, The Perfect Is The Enemy Of The Good. One very sharp student, Andreas Pardeike, asked: Why not just reload the service implementations?.

Why not indeed? Why not limit the behavior to something understandable, trackable, and not very expensive. Most of the infrastructure was already present, used for reloading of component classes. What about ClassCastExceptions? In Tapestry, service implementations are already buried under multiple layers of dynamically generated proxies that implement the service interface. The underlying service implementation is never automatically exposed.

A few hours of work later ... and we have live service reloading. Each reloadable service gets its own class loader, just to load the service implementation class. When Tapestry is periodically checking for updated files, it checks each reloadable service. If necessary, the existing instance, class and class loader is discarded and a new class loader created for the updated .class file.

This is going to make a big difference for me, and for most Tapestry developers. Both applications I'm working on have enough Hibernate entities and other clutter to take some time (20 - 30 seconds) to restart, and most functionality is hidden past a login page. Being able to change a service, for example to tweak a Hibernate query, with the same speed with which I can tweak a template or component class, is just one more thing to keep me in the flow and super productive.

Give it a try ... it's one more step towards making Tapestry so compelling, you wouldn't think of using anything else!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Why Eclipse leaves me wanting

I think I've come to understand why Eclipse leaves me always feeling a bit frustrated. Yes, it is more stable than IDEA, uses less memory, has some documentation, and a lot of acceptance ... but even so, it just leaves me cold (and I was an early adopter, signed up for the beta way back in 2000!).

Keystrokes are not modal

The fact that I can type a common keystroke into an Eclipse window and not know what it will do is painful. How a keystroke is interpreted depends on what perspective is active, what view or editor has focus, and what kind of data is being edited in the editor. That's dead wrong; keystrokes are about muscle memory, and muscle memory remembers motion, not context. The end result is that I get frustrated hitting keystrokes and seeing nothing happening. It doesn't help that I cycle between Mac and a PC on most days.

You can't have it your way

A tool as powerful and extensible as Eclipse walks the tightrope of offering lots of features and customizations without overwhelming the user. Alas, Eclipse is lying in a broken heap fifty feet below that tightrope. Eclipse has an unending set of options and defaults for things I don't care about, but anything I do care about seems to never be presents. Here's a few ideas of the top of my head:

  • Stop running launches when I close the project (I often have to kill them from the command line)
  • Give me a quick way to stop all running launches
  • Why so many steps to implement an interface? It's the second most common thing I do!
  • How about a button to quickly relaunch the current running launch?
  • Why are the available refactorings so paltry and where are the 3rd party ones?

Who's eating their own dog food?

When I used IDEA, I was constantly struck by little details that showed that the IDE developers were also its prime users. For example, it has open-type and open-resource dialogs much like Eclipse ... but each recognizes the keystroke for the other, so that if you mistakenly activate the open-type dialog, you just hit the normal keystroke to switch over to open-resource. Eclipse makes you cancel the dialog first.

Another example: in IDEA if you rename a field, it notices the getter and setter and will offer to rename those as well.

IDEA also has lots of quick fixes everywhere, such as "implement this interface" and lots of other tiny, cool things I miss every single day I use Eclipse. It's been about a year since I gave up on IDEA and I still miss it.

Is it cultural or organizational? Eclipse gives me the impression that day-to-day developers either have no concept of how the IDE gets used (and what rough spots are causing some serious chafing) OR they are somehow prohibited from fixing things that are obviously wrong.

If you love IDEA so much why don't you marry it?

So why don't I use IDEA anymore? Two main reasons: first, it's become very bloated, to the point that unless you go in and shut off a ton of features, it's unusable on my hardware. Merlyn has the same problem doing GWT work on his MacBook Pro ... all the help it gives you comes at a cost in terms of CPU and memory utilization and some instability.

Secondly, I tried (even before IDEA went open source) to use IDEA in my training labs and I hit a stone wall of non-acceptance. Switching to Eclipse was a benefit to my students since, even running in Ubuntu instead of Windows, it was familiar and easy to navigate. It also out-performs IDEA inside my Ubuntu Virtual Machine. I simply lack the ability to switch between the two on a constant basis without getting completely confused and frustrated. I had to choose one, and I chose Eclipse: stable and accepted, even if it is brain dead.

Why call it Ugly?

One thing I don't get is how many people claim Eclipse is "ugly" and IDEA "beautiful". I found IDEA to be overly chock-full of modal dialogs and a number of improperly resized (or non-resizable) dialogs and windows. It's a real dog's breakfast in terms of UI, and has the classically ugly Swing look and feel.

I've always found Eclipse to look sharp and somewhat elegant. You can have a debate about the technical merits of SWT vs. AWT and Swing, or the ability to tune Swing to look like SWT ... but SWT out of the box is simply a better L&F visually.

On a Mac they both suck at keyboard navigation, though.

There, I've vented. See what going cold-turkey from Twitter can do?

Monday, March 08, 2010

Java Champion

You might call it petty, you might call it vain, but I've aspired to be recognized as a Java Champion for the last couple of years. The process by which you are selected for this is a bit secretive, but I've finally gotten the nod and joined the roster.

My larger goal for Tapestry has always been to create a web application platform so compelling that it would draw developers to the Java programming language, just to be able to use it. Of course, that's not so much a goal as it is a journey. Technologically, I think Tapestry has the chops to embrace that goal (or journey) ... and looking at current discussions and developments in the Tapestry world, I think the other critical areas where Tapestry is lagging (namely, Documentation and Marketing) may come around.

Want to do your part? Blog about Tapestry ... what you like, what you don't like, what's missing, and what's hidden.