Monday, June 29, 2009

Collaboration and Rational Tooling

Greg Hodgkinson, Methodology Pratice Leader

Running effective software development projects requires a certain level of tool support. For most organizations, the tools they have come from multiple vendors, and may also include a mix of both licensed and open-source tooling. As tools tend to be acquired to meet point problems, it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture – how your team and tools fit together to deliver the business solutions needed. Integration (SOA) projects bring with them a new set of challenges which may require tooling of a type that you don’t currently have. Do you find yourself asking any of the following?
  • How do I drive my team’s work in a way that allows me to track progress?
  • How do I figure out what work and changes went into a build of the code created 6 months ago?
  • How do I keep my distributed team aware of each other’s actions and progress?
  • How do I ensure that my best practices are being adhered to?

These are questions we hear on a regular basis from our customers. Having tested and used various tooling, we have had great success with Rational Team Concert which is highly effective for team collaboration. Below are some slides I've put together which illustrate what I'm referring to...

Greg Hodgkinson is the Methodology Practice Leader at Prolifics. He has worked in software architecture since 1996, initially in the field of component-based development (CBD), then seamlessly on to service-oriented architecture (SOA). His extended area of expertise is the software development process, and he assists Prolifics and IBM customers in adopting agile software development processes and SOA methods. Complementing this is his expertise in software development environment architecture. He is still very much a practitioner, and has been responsible for service architectures for a number of FTSE 100 companies. He presents on agile SOA process and methods, has co-authored a Redbook on SOA solutions, and regularly writes for DeveloperWorks.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Think Fast! Rational AppScan using a SaaS Model

A quick thought for you...

With all the buzz around SaaS these days there's a cool application of Rational AppScan for Web Application Security that may be of interest. You can now purchase Rational AppScan using a SaaS model. It basically is an outsourced version that is hosted and managed by security experts at IBM. You buy a subscription service so there is no infrastructure cost and setup time. Could be a good way to get started...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dynamically Loading Java Modules

Mike Hastie, Solutions Director

Did you ever feel there should be a way to modularize your Java modules and dynamically load and unload them as needed? In fact, move away from the whole classpath headache altogether? Well, you’re not alone. The OSGi Alliance ( - Open Services Gateway initiative, a name that is now obsolete - is a non-profit corporation founded in March 1999 with the mission to develop a standard Java-based service platform that can be remotely managed.

In case you think OSGi is new, there are OSGi frameworks in many of the systems we use, examples include:

  • Eclipse – Integrated Development Environment Plug-ins are OSGi modules

  • Eclipse Equinox – Server Framework

  • WebSphere Application Server v6.1

  • Lotus Expeditor

  • Jonas v5

  • JBoss is replacing JMX with OSGi

  • Spring Dynamics is an OSGi implementation
The OSGi framework started out as a Dynamic Module and Class Loader framework for cell phones and mobile devices, but is now widely accepted as one of the leading standards. In fact, it is detailed in the JSR291 specification. OSGi is a mature standard and is in its 4th release and the 5th release is in the works. Sun is working on the JSR277 specification as a Java Modularity standard planned for Java 7, but it is thought to include compatibility with JSR291. More information is available at

So if you have a server side development project where you have to reload classes and modules without a server restart, then take a little closer into OSGi or maybe just build a Java application for your cell phone.

Mike Hastie is an experienced solutions architect and implementation manager with a strong background in business driven and improvement focused IT solutions. He has over 20 years of IT experience covering project management, enterprise architecture, IT governance, SDLC methodologies, and design/programming in a client/server and Web-based context. Prior to joining Prolifics, Mike was a co-founder and Director of Promenix, a successful systems integrator focused on IBM software implementations. Mike also has significant large-scale systems implementation experience using SAP ERP, data warehouses, and portals during employment with Deloitte Consulting and Ernst & Young where he specialized in messaging and integration technologies using the WebSphere brand family.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Curious Case of Web Services Migration - Part II

Vladimir Serebryany, Senior Consultant

As I mentioned in the previous blog entry, the final goal was to develop a Maven-powered environment in which the deployable unit - in our case the EAR file - would be generated by a set of scripts starting from checking out versioned code from PVCS. I would lie if I tell you that I liked Maven at first sight. My initial feelings were anger and frustration as Maven-enabled RAD essentially diminished RAD to be just a fancy code editor - and nothing more. Gone were round-trip interactive development, and my productivity as a developer really suffered. Only by the end of the project I found out how to keep RAD effective and fully engaged and still be able to build using Maven. At the very end of the project I started to really appreciate the effectiveness of Maven as a build tool especially when it comes to building deployable units for different environments in a very uniform and reliable way. Its ability to manage versioned dependencies is just outstanding given the relative simplicity with which this is achieved.

Anyway, for regular Dynamic Web Projects the task would be trivial - Maven already has a plug-in to generate all deployable artifacts. But for Web projects with Web services there was nothing I could use because there were a number of generated artifacts which simply did not fit into Maven’s rigid default directory structure. I faced a task of developing a new Maven plug-in just for the tasks on hand (as long as I am mentioning this, you may guess that plug-in was successfully implemented, but read below to find out at what cost).

To assess the scope of the effort involved, let me just list the tasks accomplished.
Given: set of RAD projects fresh from PVCS each with Maven pom.xml. One specialized project had all WSDL and XSD files. Parent folder had pom.xml with our custom Maven Web services plug-in properties and configurations. Note that only scripts and libraries available with WAS 6.1 run-time are used for code generation. No part of RAD is used for Maven plug-in (in fact our customer uses AIX to run build scripts).

Below is the overview of custom plug-in functionality:
  • For each WSDL in parent pom.xml run WSDL2Java script, create temporary folder structure with all Java and XML configuration files.
  • For each generated webservices.xml go in and replace generated placeholder with actual servlet class name (this is because WSDL2Java script just does not do that by design).
  • Combine all webservices.xml files together and create single webservices.xml to be put in the target project.
  • Collect all mapping xml files and put them together in the target project.
  • Collect all servlets names and classes names for each WSDL and put them as servlet/servlet-mapping entries in the Web Deployment Descriptor in the target project.
  • Copy WSDL and XSD files into the target project WEB-INF/wsdl folder.
  • Copy all generated Java sources and put them together with existing source code.
  • Pass resulting project to the standard Maven Web project plug-in to be compiled and built.

At the end the Prolifics team had accomplished everything the client asked us to do. and we left the site with application up and running in production with no problems. The only thing they asked with amazement was: "How did you do that, guys?"

Vladimir Serebryany is a Senior Consultant at Prolifics with in-depth knowledge and broad hands-on experience with the J2EE environment as well as expertise in EJBs, Servlets, JSP and JSF. Excelling at migrations, Vladimir has over 9 years of experience with a wide range of complementary skills including WebSphere, WebSphere MQ, WebSphere Business Integration Message Broker, UNIX, C/C++, Java, HTML/ASP, JavaScript, and Visual Basic. He has served as team leader/senior developer roles in large, complex projects and configurations with clients in the financial, insurance and telecommunication industries - among others.