The Holy Java

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Archive for September, 2010

Most interesting links of September

Posted by Jakub Holý on September 30, 2010

The most interesting articles and other IT resources I’ve encountered the previous month, delayed a bit due to my holiday in Andalusia. In no particular order. Included some performance stuff, few tools and few general SW engineering things.

  • The Open-Closed Principle , i.e. open to extension, closed to modification – one of the basic principles in OOP underlying many best practices such as “make all member variables private” nicely explained, with code samples with and without O/CP applied.  Noteworthy: The principle is implemented with abstractions (abstract classes defining the constant part with subclasses being the extensions). You can’t “close” your design against all changes and must thus choose the ones that are more likely, i.e. create a “strategic closure”.
  • Java EE 6 xor Spring by A. Bien – the main difference is in the philosophy behind – Java EE is based on Convention over Configuration. The decision factor is usually the support policy, though. Also the tc Server is certainly better than a “custom” Tomcat with Spring.
  • ThoughtWorks Technology Radar – to help decision-makers from CIOs to developers understand emerging technologies and trends that affect the market today; though their assignment of GWT under hold is disputable (; TW answers: “As it turned out the conciseness of the text didn’t allow us to adequately make our points so that they were not misunderstood. We are interested in a discussion but our opinion about the suitability and usability of GWT has still not changed.”
    • JavaScript as a 1st-class language w/ the same best practices (unit t., refact.,…); functional languages (Clojure > Scala)
    • WS-* beyond the basic profile, GWT, RIA on hold
  • “Agile Business” for a startup with “Virtual Assistants”: outsource (to an “Virtual Assistant”) what you can, only do what’s necessary at the time even if that means doing manually (outsourced) st. that could be automated; this helped to decrease time from 160 MH to 10 MH.
    “The lesson is that before you launch your product, think about the processes you can avoid automating. How about reminder emails? How about monthly billing? Could a human being run a report once a month and send emails or charge credit cards?” , “Every hour spent writing code is wasted time if that code could be replaced by a human being doing the same task until your product proves itself.”
  • InMemProfiler: Identifying Memory Allocators – tool to track memory allocation capable of attributing it to the classes (i.e. packages) of interest without blurring the results with char[] and all the java.lang.* classes
  • Easy Performance Analysis with AppDynamics Lite – I’m fond of performance troubleshooting tools and AppDynamics Lite looks really cool. The post includes two very short yet very informative and nice screencast showing its installation and usage. App. D. automatically discovers Struts actions, JDBC calls, webservices etc. and captures slow operations with the necessary details; this is quite similar to what the open-source does. The monitoring web UI is very nice and user friendly. See the white box on the right side at to see what JVMs, ASs and frameworks it supports. Check also the comparison of the lite and standard versions (max 30 transactions, max 2 hours if diagnostics data, …).
  • Google Relaunches Instantiations Developer Tools – Now Available for Free – incl. the static code analysis tool (Eclipse plugin) CodePro AnalytiX
  • A blog about Terracota’s new BigMemory (commercial) claims that 64b JVM with heap over few GB may be a nightmare – “… not all people know about 64-bit JVMs and the nightmare these things can cause. Contrary to what other vendors are claiming, most shops such as Unibet, PartyPoker, Expedia, Sabre Holdings, Intercontinental Hotels Group, JP Morgan, Goldman, and more will tell you a 64-bit JVM pauses unpredictably and for minutes at a time. even when a 64 bit JVM is small (<2GB) it takes 30+% more RAM than a 32-bit equivalent JVM running under the same app.
  • Presentation Real Software Engineering by Glenn Vanderburg  – the talk is pretty interesting and I recommend it. Few, subjectively selected and interpreted points:
    The SW engineering as taught in universities doesn’t work, it’s actually a caricature of “engineering” (that is, established practices that work). The reason is that SwE is unreasonably fascinated by (ideally mathematical) modeling and precise, repeatable processes. This is not how real SW development can or does work. Given the complexity and uncertainty, an empirical process, based on frequent feedback and continual adjustment, is much more suitable. Also we don’t need complex models because prototyping and testing is nearly “free”, compared e.g. to spacecraft engineering. And with BDD and tools like RSpec and FitNesse we may have both readable and executable specifications – the code becomes the model.
  • Monte Carlo Analysis of the Zero Defect Mentality of TDD – conclusion: TDD pays off in the long run even though being slower [learning curve; 0-value bringing defect fixing] Fow short life time, TDD may be not worth it. Don’t argue, simulate :-)

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The power of batching or speeding JDBC by 100

Posted by Jakub Holý on September 20, 2010

We all know that one coarse-grained operation is more efficient than a number of fine-grained ones when communicating over the network boundary but until recently I haven’t realized how big that difference may be. While performing a simple query individually for each input record proceeded with the speed of 11k records per hour, when I grouped each 100 queries together (with “… WHERE id IN (value1, .., value100)), all 200k records were processed in 13 minutes. In other words, using a batch of the size 100 led to the speed-up of nearly two orders of magnitude!

The moral: It really pays of to spend a little more time on writing the more complex batch-enabled JDBC code whenever dealing with larger amounts of data. (And it wasn’t that much more effort thanks to Groovy SQL.)

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Exposing a POJO as a JMX MBean easily with Spring

Posted by Jakub Holý on September 16, 2010

JMX is a great way to check or change state variables or invoke a method in a (remote) running application via a management GUI such as JConsole. And Spring makes it trivial to expose any POJO as a JMX MBean with only little configuration in a few minutes. The Spring JMX documentation is very good, however there are few points that I struggled with for a while and would therefore like to record here the right solutions.

I needed to monitor a command-line java application using Spring 2.5 on IBM JVM 1.4 1.5 running on a server with a jconsole on Sun JVM 1.6 as the JMX client on my PC.

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Implementing retrial with a MDB or an MQ batch job? (WAS 7, MQ 6)

Posted by Jakub Holý on September 13, 2010

We need to listen for messages distributed via Websphere MQ to get informed when an employee joins or leaves IBM. And because the resources used in the processing (a database, a webservice) may be temporarily unavailable, we must be able to deal with such outages, which may range from minutes to hours, by repeatedly retrying the processing after some delay. And we must be also able to deal with “poison messages”, that means messages whose processing always fails either because their content is invalid or because their data isn’t consistent with the database. The question is whether this would be better implemented as a Message-Driven Bean (MDB) or a batch job regularly checking its queue given that we have Websphere Application Server 7 (and thus Java EE 5) and Websphere MQ 6, which both have some important changes compared to the previous versions. It turns out that it depends – both approaches have some advantages and disadvantages and so it’s a question of the likelihood of particular problems and business requirements and priorities.

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Posted in j2ee, Languages | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Jetty-maven-plugin: Running a webapp with a DataSource and security

Posted by Jakub Holý on September 10, 2010

This post describes how to configure the jetty-maven-plugin and the Jetty servlet container to run a web application that uses a data source and requires users to log in, which are the basic requirements of most web applications. I use Jetty in development because it’s fast and easy to work with. Read the rest of this entry »

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SSH magic: Authorize only once for multiple ssh/scp invocations

Posted by Jakub Holý on September 10, 2010

OpenSSH has a nice feature that makes it possible to open one “master connection”, which can be shared by multiple subsequent ssh/scp/sftp “slave connections”. The advantage is that you need to supply password only when opening the master connection and thus you can easily perform a sequence of remote commands without constant re-authentication. Let’s see how to do it in such a way that it can be used in a script.
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