The power of JQuery and JQGrid

9 05 2010

Off late, I have been working (yes, hands on) on some web applications, after a long gap!! Historically, we were stuck using Struts and Displaytag for our jsp based data grids, to support CRUD operations. As we started revamping our web applications piece by piece, we looked at several options, including JSF. With the time constraints at hand, our choices were pretty much limited and we confined ourselves to look at Ajax based frameworks. We fumbled upon JQuery and its rich set of plugins. Since then, we never looked back. We did try ExtJS, Prototype and other AJAX based frameworks, but nothing matched JQuery.

To make it short, we liked the following:

  1. The Selector API of the core JQuery framework.
  2. The UI components (Modal dialog, DatePicker, Accordion, Tabs etc).
  3. A rich set of plugins, which made our life so easy (JQGrid, JQuery validation etc).
  4. Theme based look and feel (switching themes is only one line of code).

Our turn around time was pretty quick and users were really happy with the UI look and feel and response times.

For people who are not aware of JQGrid, please visit their demo site. JQGrid was the datagrid component which we used to replace Displaytag. We integrated this with Struts and used our Spring/Hibernate based DAO layer to support the CRUD operations, pagination and Data export features. We resorted to JasperReports/iText for PDF based canned reports.

Even though I have immense belief in standardised API’s like JSF, the steep learning curve, the poor performance and availability of developers who “really” understand, have put us off!!


FireFox 3.5 ROCKS!!

1 07 2009

I was a bit hesitant to download FireFox3.5, but I couldn’t stop myself doing that, after reading several outstanding reviews about it.

The first thing I noticed was the blazing speed with which pages loaded, in general. The difference was pretty substantial, this maybe attributed to their tracemonkey javascript engine. Support for HTML5 video tag really blew me off.

This blog will elaborate more on how it fares with other browsers. One of the most compelling reason for me to use FF was the ability to add add-ons, and I haven’t seen any browser which comes close to that, yet.

I can’t wait for their new electrolysis engine, which enables the browser to withstand web page failures, without bringing the whole browser crashing. Google Chrome already has this feature, and these crashes happen very rarely, anyway. So not a big deal for me.

To learn about all the new features for FF 3.5, click here.

Transactional Memory, a distant dream?

28 03 2009

Have you ever felt the necessity for writing code which looks something like this?

atomic {
obj = msgNotProcessedMap.get(key);

Well, I have been following the evolution of both software transactional memory as well as hardware support for it. Back in 2006, when I first started my in-depth look at this new emerging area, I felt that there was a lot of promise and expected it to go mainstream pretty quick, but here we are, in 2009 now, and I have become a bit skeptical.

There is still a lot of ongoing research in this area and there are a few STM implementations available out there, but they are not really mainstream. As skeptical as I am, I still see some hope for it to be part of Java 8.0 or C# 4.0, yes, nothing short of native language support.

Sun Microsystems has come up with their Hybrid Transactional Memory (HyTM), which uses STM as much as possible and exploits the underlying hardware when it comes to optimistic concurrency control. Sun has confirmed it’s on track to ship its “Supernova” servers based on its “Rock” UltraSparc-RK processors before the end of 2009, so let us wait and see.

Without native language support, the effort that a programmer has to incur would be significant and in a way more error prone than what they are accustomed to currently (synchronized constructs and locks and mutexes).

The current benchmarks floating around for STM , doesn’t look that promising, even when running on multi- core processors, which are very prevalent nowadays. Cliff of Azul systems makes a point in his blog , that under heavy load, the performance is unpredictable. Another article on ACMQueue gives us a “not very optimistic” viewpoint.

But I do believe that Sun’s hybrid transactional memory approach will eliminate many of these known limitations of STM alone (inability to distinguish between transactional execution vs non-transactional execution, user code being able to see in-consistent state inside an in-complete transaction etc).

The only silver lining is this latest paper, published by Sun at the Fourteenth International Conference on Architectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems (ASPLOS ’09). It shows us that the folks at Sun have made great strides and the benchmark results sound very promising and makes us really believe that we are closer to mainstream adoption.

Time will tell.

Another article on Distributed transactions

3 02 2009

I found this new article at at JavaWorld, written by Dr. David Syer, who works for SpringSource . The article elaborates on using different transactional strategies/patterns and provides some advice on which strategy/pattern to use in a particular scenario.

The emphasis was primarily on using distributed transactions without XA (read overhead), of course, with some trade-offs. I found it very informative.

Is JBOSS losing the sheen?

3 06 2008

We use JBoss a lot in our organization and as far as my responsibilities go, I am involved, in someway or the other, in design and architectural/infrastructural issues, which also include JBOSS based applications.

I noticed that the first Beta of JBoss 5.0 AS was released way back in 2006-11-17. And since then, there were 3 more Beta versions, the last one was released on 2008-02-10. It is almost 2 years and we don’t have a GA release available yet.

Could it be the RedHat acquisition and the related transition, the reason for this? Or is it the attrition rate at RedHat?

I hope the GA release, whenever it releases, will be worth the wait. They(Redhat) should also take note of the competition coming from other open source application servers, especially GlassFish. I have never used GlassFish, but based on what I heard from others, the list of features it provides, and the pace at which they are releasing, they definitely seem to have more momentum than JBoss.

Though the adoption of JEE5 based application servers has been very slow, it has been steady. The only commercial application server which is JEE5 compliant is Weblogic 10. Websphere is way behind, but I could be wrong. Websphere community edition (Geronimo?) has JEE5 compliant features (or shall we say compatible?) but I don’t think it has that much of a momentum, despite being open source.

I hope Redhat is listening.

And now, a memory appliance

16 02 2008

We now have an appliance for every component of the technology stack where high-performance and/or low latency is a requirement. I fumbled upon this new memory appliance from violin and was pretty impressed.

Their datasheet suggests that their appliance (Violin 1010) contains about 84 VIMM’s (Violin Intelligent Memory Module) which could have a combination of both DRAM and NAND flash memory. The DRAM module has a max of 6G and 6*84 gives us a max of 504G of memory. If one opts for a 64G flash memory, per VIMM, that gives us a max of 5TB.

The appliance itself could be hooked on to a server via the 10-20 Gbit/s PCI interface and the data is protected by both ECC and RAID. They claim to bring down the io latency to 3 microseconds, which is not a small feat. The device has the capacity to do 3 Million random I/O per second, per interface. The device also claims to be “green”, owing to its low power consumption.

What kind of applications benefit from using this device? Well, any application with large cache sizes, large datasets, applications which require extended memory, memory mapped files and so forth. How about if we can just dump all the database index files on this appliance (sort of a “RAM disk”), that could potentially boost the query performance by leaps and bounds? I also heard that they do have potential wall-street clients testing their devices in a stealth mode 😉

The benefits are definitely immense, but at what cost? Their site informs us that the starter kit will come for under $50K and comes with 20 6GB VIMM’s.

If you are too curious to take a look at this baby, go here.

Understanding JMS messaging

25 07 2007

To my surprise, I am learning that there are very few java developers/programmers who understand the JMS specificaiton. There was this application which was consuming messages using a synchronous recieve call (with an AUTO_ACK mode), the programmer was expecting that the message be re-delivered if his application fails after the receive() and eventually blames the JMS server. The programmers fail to understand the difference between synchronous receive() and asynchornous receive (via MessageListener).

In another instance, I was informed that the JMS server was not JMS compliant just because it wasn’t closing the producer explicitly. The architects of that application were thinking that java’s garbage collection would take care of cleaning up the producers, if not explicitly closed. The JMS 1.1 spec is pretty clear on this and I find it very difficult to understand why and how one can interpret this differently.

The same is the case when a standalone application uses Spring MDP’s for consuming messages. Spring has this DefaultMessageListenerContainer which does a synchronous receive(). If one were to set the AUTO_ACK acknowledge mode, and the application fails after the receive() call, the message is lost. This is not clear to many of the users.

Maybe it is time for someone to come up with a list of messaging anti-patterns and educate the JMS/messaging community in general.