January 04, 2001

Work deadlines looming, technology overview

Work is picking up, in good and bad ways. Deadlines are nice to have because you can have something to shoot for, but they have some downsides as well.

Technology-wise, for now we're using JBoss as our EJB server, XMLC to compile HTML pages to DOM objects and Tomcat to serve everything up. It took some time for me to play around with the technology enough to decide what's good and what's bad, being new to Java and all. It didn't take long to figure out that JSPs seem to suck horribly -- I think I'm allergic to any solution that mixes actual code and HTML (including Embperl, etc.). I do wish there were a Template Toolkit for Java, tho.

Anyway, the bad part is that XMLC refuses to work consistently. It's probably something I'm doing ("It's not you, it's me.") but I can't get it to do the most basic things anymore. Complicating matters is the nutty Enhydra build process -- XMLC is still intertwined enough with Enhydra that you need the latter for the former. And the build process requires the cygwin tools on Win2000, my workstation (for now) and our target platform. Isn't Java supposed to solve these things? Hopefully they're moving over to Ant as a build tool rather than make so they can get rid of this silly requirement. I have no problem with make and company, but using appropriate tools helps people use your technology.

The nifty thing about XMLC is that it does a good job (IMO) of separating the presentation from the data layer and does so in a way that works perfectly with existing html tools. Traversing and manipulaing the DOM tree is kind of painful, but I feel comfortable in saying that the pain will at least diminish with practice. There's a tool (HTML Tree) that does something similar with Perl that I'm going to look into, just for kicks.

Fun OpenInteract stuff recently: installation goodies, lots of documentation, hierarchical "file" security (and the "file" can be either in the database or filesystem) and some other cool things. It's got a Sourceforge page now, but no CVS yet as things are still in flux with planning, etc. They're planning a big release at the end of January -- should be fun!

(Originally posted elsewhere)

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