Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Book review : Service Oriented Java Business Integration

I took some time to read this book and I do not think I lost my so "precious" time. I would say that the book is not intended for Java beginners but more for people with a good technical background and especially with at least, some knowledge of the Java Enterprise world. Never the less, if you are not a specialist, just like I am not one, you could still read the book and you could learn a lot of new stuff.

Indeed, the book is taking you from the beginning and tries to lead you through different technologies like Java Messaging service (JMS), Enterprise Java Beans (EJB), WebServices (WS) and a few more. The author is clearly explaining how to use those different technologies within an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) and how to implement it using the Java Business Integration (JBI) specification. The aim is to make you understand of how you could use any technology to achieve the Service Oriented Architecture.

A good point is that the theory is accompanied with a lot of examples based on Service Mix, which is an Apache JBI implementation. Those samples are insisting on EJB and WS, I would qualify them as realistic or real world samples. My opinion is that it could help a lot of people and companies not to rewrite their existing code but to rather reuse the code they already have and to make it working within a JBI container. You could find some explanations on how to make a real enterprise application using Service Mix and a huge assortment of useful packages like XStream or Axis. Also, on how to expose your EJBs as WSDL, which I find interesting. The samples provided in the book are accompanied with a lot of code and the whole build process. Thus even if you are not familiar with all those technologies you will be able to test and see the samples running.

All that is strengthen by the link to the Java Connector Architecture and to the point on how to exchange the information between all those different/heterogeneous systems.

While the book is correctly explaining the point of JBI, I would really appreciate to hear some words about the Service Component Architecture (SCA) and to see something about REST, but not only about WS. There are also a couple of references to VoIP and probably that a parallel could be shown with the SLEE (or JAIN SLEE) specification.

I also think there should be less explanation about WebServices and especially about the WS versioning, but some more words about XA transactions and services orchestration.

Finally, I really do recommend the book to those who are not familiar with ESBs or SOA and that want to learn something without investigating a lot on the web alone. Also, as I already mentioned to those who want to use a JBI container but have a lot of EJB and WS implementations around.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Alfresco webscripts with Groovy

After being a little bit disappointed about using Grails in Alfresco (see my post below), I decided to see how could Alfresco be integrated with Groovy.

Alfresco introduced a while ago the "webscripts", with that they added a powerful scripting API based on JavaScript and the Rhino engine. When you add FreeMarker templates to that, what you could get is a nice output that you could customize to be some JSON data, XML or whatever suites you. That is amazing but I was not that happy as we have to wait for Alfresco to expose more of their services via the scripting API. Adding Groovy capabilities to any application and not only to Alfresco seems "natural" and I think that it helps in prototyping without having to recompile.

I took the groovy.servlet.GroovyServlet implementation and added a few lines that allows to configure a Spring bean as servlet parameters and to make them available in the groovy scripts.
The code is not yet published somewhere as a forge project but you can find it here. All you have to do is have Spring and Spring MVC on your classpath (Alfresco already has it) add Groovy libraries (groovy-all is a good solution, at least version 1.5.x) and configure your web.xml with the Groovy servlet that I am providing, an example could be found here. That example is using spring's DispatcherServlet but you could use the GroovyServlet as any other servlet, directly in your web.xml. If your are also using the DispatcherServlet then you have to configure it correctly as shown here.

Once you are done with those configuration just add the desired beans to the servlet configuration and you are on "rails" with Alfresco.

The samples provided here are using the ServiceRegistry bean and it is mapped in Groovy as registry, so to get any other Alfresco service you have to start from there. But you are free to map whatever bean you want.

Although, some people are saying that there are problems using Alfresco beans with Groovy, I did not have those problems till now, but I am not saying it will happen.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Grails integration ... nice but ...

These days I was trying Grails and I have to say that coding by convention with Groovy is very powerful and allows to create new web applications very quickly. It is very helpful when you create a new application because you can change the code without redeploying the whole application as you have to do with a WAR when you change a Java class. Grails has different environment and one of them is development, which is using embedded Jetty. The feature I really like is the integration with the Spring framework and especially the autowiring by name in Grails controllers.

Although, autowiring is not so new, it is not that easy to have it within an existing application which is using Spring and to integrate it with Groovy i.e. So, I saw in Grails a big big thing. The difference with the development environment and production is that in the dev environment, groovy files are recompiled and as soon as you change something, they are "redeployed". What a great feature, if only I could use it in another web or application container. Imagine that you have an application and that you could include a framework which is exposing all the beans that you need to your scripts, just by autowiring them.

You could be able to write a script, and expose some data to the rest of the world from your application without any problem. I already blogged about Alfresco (the opensource CMS) and its webscripts, but those webscripts are exposing Java through Rhino and you have to write some Javascript on the server side. What if we could do the same via Grails (I would say ... WoOoW ...)?

Although, you can create a WAR file containing your Grails application and just deploy it to Tomcat for instance and you could still benefit of all the Grails feature but not of being able to recompile your "scripts". Yes, it is possible somehow but not that easily. You could still have your dev environment and tell Grails as soon as a script changes to publish it to the production environment, but that is not what I want.

Another possibility would be to use the features of the dev environment, is to integrate your existing application into Grails. You could expand all the sources and run it via Grails, I am saying that because I want to reuse all the configuration files (Spring, JSF, ...) of the existing application. But, really I do not appreciate that way.

Also something that attracted my attention were Grails plugins. There is a possibility to know that a plugin has changed and that event could be handled in your groovy code and used for reloading of the necessary scripts. More information could be found at

Well, I guess that for the needs I have, I do not need to use Grails and I could simply use Groovy with somehow the autowiring enabled in groovy scripts. Probably that would be enough. But the REST approach of Grails is also a nice feature that could just be reused without having your own code or dispatcher servlets.

So, go with Grails if you need to quickly develop a Java based web application. But I would like to be able to reuse the Grails development environment in another container too.