Tag Archives: framework

Technology stack for a web application (2013) – Part II

As I speak/write the blog is kept on updating with the reasons on the choice of various technologies/framework. Please look into the blog for more updates. Please look into the first part of this blog in here.

Web/Client Tier

  1. Spring MVC (Web Framework) – Here any good web application framework can be used. Even good component based framework like JSF is also a good choice, especially JSF implementation namely RichFaces. Once you use any of the component based framework, the level of control you have on the overall final HTML generated as a whole is a big issue especially when the application’s performance is considered. To avoid this using a basic web framework like Spring MVC with a very good JavaScript library is a good solution according to me. Spring MVC has evolved a great deal over the period of time and in line with the Spring Framework philosophy, it allows integrating various other web technologies with ease. Also a typical web application development evolution according to me should be as follows:
    1. Get the requirements from the business
    2. Converting business requirement into meaning user story board
    3. Converting those story boards into HTML’s, most done by an expert graphic designers. usually these HTML nowadays does have some level interaction and page flows shown using the various open source JavaScript libraries like JQuery. Final menu structure, sitemap and so on is designed during this time.
    4. Once getting business confirmation, pass on the HTML’s to the Java developers for making it dynamic and functional in all nature.
      Once the developer gets these HTML’s as designed and agreed by business, if you use any of the component based web frameworks, looking at the HTML provided, it has to be designed from scratch. The developed final HTML which is required will never be achieved by the developer and this can be a big issue to the business. By using such a basic web application framework like Spring MVC will avoid this and the developer will be bale to use the HTML as given by the graphic designed and convert into a dynamic web application. The business will get the same look and feel which the graphic designer as shown and overall the project can be completed in a much shorter span of time.
  2. Thymeleaf / Apache Tiles (Templating framework instead of using JSP directly) – One of the greatest features that i see of Apache Tapestry (a web application framework, initial release, Tapestry 4 and older, before the framework rewrite) is the full use of the graphic designer supplied HTML’s by the developer’s as is and making necessary changes so as to make it dynamic in nature. Thymeleaf brings that advantage onto any web application framework and acts as the templating framework. But there is an issue using Thymeleaf along with the security compliance framework namely HDIV, down the lane I will explain this and how good is it for your web application to use HDIV to cover OWASP security requirements with ease by mere configuration. If you want to use HDIV, the next best templating framework that you can use with your web application framework is Apache Tiles. For more details on Thymeleaf please go through http://www.thymeleaf.org. For more details on Apache Tiles please go through http://tiles.apache.org.
  3. SiteMesh (Decorator – Filter for layout creation/maintenance) – Using a templating framework and layout framework might not be well accepted, but i feel if the application is developed keeping in mind to be made into product and customization in mind, using this layout framework along with a templating framework will be good overall. For more details, please visit http://www.sitemesh.org.
  4. JQuery (JS) – There are so many good JavaScript frameworks available in the market both open source and commercial, which will make developing a web application enjoyable and easy with lot of cool features out-of-box. One of the prominent and mostly used JavaScript framework available as of now is JQuery and I am no exception to go along with it for developing my web application. Its fast, small and feature-rich JavaScript library, which allows traversing,parsing and manipulating HTML document easy and straightforward with it easy to use API’s, guaranteeing support to a variety of browsers available in the market. For more detail, please visit http://jquery.com.
  5. JQuery-UI (JS) – Theming (More for productization) – JQuery UI (user interface) contains a whole lot of widgets, interactions, effects and themes which are built on top of JQuery JavaScript library. A must if you building highly interaction and rich web application. Using JQuery UI with JQuery is a natural choice and i too support this in all aspects. For more details, visit http://jqueryui.com.
  6. Dandelion datatables – Dandelion is a component of the open source web application framework Dandelion. It uses DataTables JQuery plugin to create full-featured HTML based tables. There are variety of ways by which to use the tables in your web application, easy to use, integrate and customize. Any web application requires a datatable for displaying data and nowadays the expectation out of a datatable has grown out of proportions. Using Dandelion will help you realize these to a greater extend with not much hassle. That’s the reason for me to choose this and being a JQuery plugin, makes it even an easier choice. To know more details on this, visit http://dandelion.github.io/datatables.
  7. Bootstrap (CSS) or Blueprint (CSS) – If you don’t have a graphic designer and you are told to do the graphics and design of the web application, i would suggest using either bootstrap or blueprint. These give a head start, suing which the skeleton of the web application can be built and it id designed by experts, so why use their expertise. For more details on bootstrap, please visit http://getbootstrap.com. For more details on blueprint, please visit http://www.blueprintcss.org. As the project name suggests, bootstrap gives you the head start and blueprint give you the blueprint on which to bild you web application. It inherently takes care of many things for you, on such example is browser compatibility and graceful degradation.
  8. D3 JS or Highcharts JS – Both are fabulous charting framework. Both are really good in features and if you application is chart/report oriented, not using any one of them is a crime. D3 can be used for commercial projects for free but Highcharts can only be used freely for non-commercial projects. Since these are JS based libraries, usage is easy and wouldn’t be that troublesome. Highcharts being a commercial products boasts good support and browser compatibility and as its a de-facto requirement, supports graceful degradation according to the browser in which you web application is rendering.
  9. Modernizr (Browser detection and grace degradation in case you are using HTML5 and CSS3) – If your application is based on HTML5 and CSS3 standards, using this JS would be handy so that the web application can degrade gracefully according to the browser in which the application is loading. For more details, visit http://modernizr.com.
  10. HDIV (HTTP Data Integrity Validator) – Good things come later, isn’t? To me one of the best Java Web application security framework. Integrates well with major web application framework and templating frameworks. Just by using this framework, you automatically get your web application security requirement covered to a good level. The framework takes care of almost all the top 10 security threats as classified by OWASP. It gives you this feature by not tampering with your pages by your developers, rather it sits as a filter (highly configurable), and takes care of all without a single line written in your main application code. At any point, if you feel that this is not doing any justice to your web application, removing it can be done very easily. Its a wonderful handy framework which you can use to get past your company’s security team (VAPT). For more details, please visit http://hdiv.org.
  11. yepnope.js (Script/resource loader) – Now your application has good amount of JavaScript library and slowly your application’s client side is becoming heavier and clunkier. You definitely need a conditional resource loader. Out of various resource loaders available in market, I consider using either of these. yepnope JS (cool, innovative and apt name) is an asynchronous conditional resource loader which allows you to load what scripts you want in your application. Its not only light-weight but super-fast. For more details, visit http://yepnopejs.com. These script loaders will surely improve your performance and will also reduce your page’s load time.
  12. backbone.js – You now really have good amount of JS libraries and maintenence of these can be cumbersome if your web applications keeps growing in size over a period of time. This JS library brings structure to the JS coding as a whole and this can be really helpful in case of big coporate web application. For more details, visit http://backbonejs.org.
  13. Custom tags – Custom tags must be written and used as much as possible bringing in component based development in case you plan to use Spring MVC as your choice of web application framework.

Exhausted. I will be completing my three part series in my following blog post. In couple of days and you will see my final blog. Having said that I will keep updating the earlier blog parts with more and more detail, especially when i get more details from my fellow bloggers/readers.

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Technology stack for a web application (2013) – Part I

This is an opinionated blog as I do favor considering Spring Framework in the various tiers of a typical web application. I consider the framework because of its features, ease and above all good enthusiastic community and activity surrounding it as a whole. While doing this evaluation and recommendation, I have put the year, as technology changes are so fast, obsolesce is down the lane and I do want to make sure that it is reviewed in a timely manner so that rather than giving a wrong recommendation, make recommendation to some extent useful and ideal for a typical web application. The whole technology stack can be summarized as below:

Web/Client Tier

  1. Spring MVC (Web Framework)
  2. Thymeleaf / Apache Tiles (View framework instead of using JSP directly)
  3. SiteMesh (Decorator – Filter for layout creation/maintenance)
  4. JQuery (JS)
  5. JQuery-UI (JS) – Theming (More for productization)
  6. Dandelion (For datatables) – JSF datatables are heavy
  7. Bootstrap (CSS) or Blueprint (CSS)
  8. D3.js – for graph representations
  9. Modernizr (Browser detection and grace degradation in case you are using HTML5 and CSS3)
  10. HDIV – to tick all security requirements in your application from a single point. At this point in time, using Spring MVC along with Thymeleaf is not supported by HDIV, but its not far away. So if you want to use HDIV, Spring MVC along with Apache Tiles should be used.
  11. yepnope.js (Script/resource loader)
  12. backbone.js
  13. Custom tags will be written and used as much as possible bringing in component based development

Server Tier

  1. Spring Framework
  2. Consider using Spring Data – Different profiles

Things to be considered as a whole:

  • WebJars for managing JS and CSS libraries as jars
  • Caching using Ehcache
  • Multiple DB support (development can be even considered using in-memory database)
  • Consider using Datatables4J
  • Reason for each technology/framework selection

As detailed earlier, the reasons that I consider might be fully opinionated/biased, please let me know your suggestions, after careful consideration looking at its advantages/disadvantages, the technology stack will be considered and changed accordingly. For the year 2013, I consider this blog as evolving as possible according to the suggestions that I get from the readers of www.javacodebook.com.

I will have another blog written very soon (2 days’ time) giving the reasons for each choice which I made so that while you do a selection in your project, you do have enough reasons and points to be given to your management.

Please visit Part II of this blog in here.

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Spring Book – Chapter 11 – Spring Web

Large number of enterprise web applications is developed using Java and forms a very integral part of any organization in modern day. Web applications have become more and more complex and it poses more and more challenges day by day. Having a good web framework should be able to address most of these challenges there by reducing the effort on the developer and allowing them to focus on implementation of actual business logic.

This Chapter introduces you to the Spring Frameworks web support and the various components in the Spring web stack. This is just an introduction to the Spring’s frameworks role in the web application development support.

The Chapter starts off by explaining the Spring web stack and the various components which it comprises. Later on it delves deep into each component and explains each one in detail. Following with the Spring philosophy it then covers the various integration possible with your Spring application. Since some integration is really important, these are covered as separate chapters later on.

A Little History

Before going deep into the Spring web stack, a little history about the Spring web stack development from its early days to present.

Spring started its journey in 2002 and Spring Web was part of the original Spring ecosystem and contained servlet/web tier tool for aiding web application development. Then came Spring Frameworks own MVC framework in the form of Spring MVC. Following the core principles of Spring, it allowed to integrate with other frameworks.

Then came the inclusion of Spring Portlet MVC which was contributed initially by Rutgers in April 2004. John Lewis started contributing changes and it got included in the main Spring code base along with Spring 2.0 release.

Spring Web Flow started as a sub project and its first release was in March 2005. Due to its innovative ideas and good acceptability in the industry after inception, it soon became an independent project and got its independent release version 1.0 released in the same year.

Over the period Spring MVC and Spring Web Flow evolved and is considered among the renounced web technology stack.

Spring Web Stack

Modern day web application posses high level of challenges, including the following:

  • Complexity continues to rise at an alarming rate
  • Necessity of exposing services to a larger audience
  • Ability to give users the best possible experience in the shortest possible of time
  • High expectations
  • Ability to build simpler applications
  • Cloud enablement

Ideally any web framework chosen for web application development should address the above challenges reducing much of the complexity for the developer. Spring provides a full stack web framework by gathering multiple libraries and frameworks useful for web development into a single unified software stack for web developers to use. It tries to address the rising complexities raised by web application development by building on top of the lightweight Spring container. Figure 11-1 shows the various components provided by the Spring web stack for developing web application using this foundation.

Figure 11-1. Spring Web Stack components

The Spring Web Stack gives you:

  • A unified programming model
  • Capability to handle multiple client types using the same foundation
  • Adaptability to choose the right approach according to the required use case

The various Spring web stack components are:

  • Spring Framework and Spring MVC
  • Spring Web Flow
  • Spring Security
  • Spring JavaScript
  • Spring Faces
  • Spring BlazeDS Integration

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Spring Book – Chapter 7 – Testing

Testing is an integral part of enterprise software development. It is one of the most important phases of the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) and has gained more importance in last decade or so. Having said that, there are many constraints either from framework level or project level, which makes testing effort in a project more challenging and time consuming. In this chapter we will first touch upon the importance of testing and see what are the various testing techniques employed in a typical application. Along the way we will see the problems imposed by various frameworks in achieving full test coverage.

After that we will see, how the Spring framework supports you in making your application more testable.

Why Testing Is Important?

As definition goes, testing is the practice of making objective judgments regarding the extent to which the system meets, exceeds or fails to meet stated objectives. Software Testing is the process used to help identify the correctness, completeness, security, and quality of developed computer software. Testing is a process of technical investigation, performed on behalf of stakeholders, that is intended to reveal quality-related information about the product with respect to the context in which it is intended to operate.

There are two fundamental purposes of testing; verifying specifications and managing risk.  First, testing is about verifying that what was specified is what was delivered. It verifies that the product meets the functional, performance, design, and implementation requirements identified in the specifications. Second, testing is about managing risk for both the acquiring organization and the system’s vendor/developer.

To find the importance of testing, you need to understand the goals of testing. Below are some of the important goals of testing:

  • Verify against a written and agreed specification
  • Assess quality of the software
  • Reveal failures if any in the delivered software
  • Verify contract such as legal, standards etc.
  • Learn how program works

TDD

Test-driven development (TDD) is an evolutionary approach to development which instructs you to have test-first development intent. You start by writing a test and then you code to elegantly fulfill the test requirements.

The steps in a typical TDD are shown in Figure 7-1 below. The first step is to quickly add or expand a unit test to your test suite. Next you run the test suite to ensure that the new test does in fact fail. You then update your functional code until it passes the test suite. Once the test suite does not fail, you should refactor the code; and then start over again.

Figure 7-1. TDD Steps

Refactoring – is a development practice for restructuring an existing code, altering its internal structure without changing its external behavior. Refactoring keeps the code clean and easy to understand.

Types of Testing

Tests can be grouped by where they are added in the software development process, or by the level of specificity of the test. The main levels during the development process are unit, integration, and system testing.

Unit Testing

Unit testing is a testing methodology employed to test a specific unit in an application. It does this verification process totally in isolation from other components. This testing has become so prominent that in some software development methodologies (Agile), the unit test cases have to be written before the actual class implantation which does the real work.

Unit tests must follow the FIRST Rules; these are Fast, Isolated, Repeatable, Self-Validated and Timely. Unit tests should be written in such a manner so as to test all the methods in the class along with all exception paths in the methods. The main aim of unit testing is to quickly test any new code or change to any existing code without spending much effort an time.

Though there are advantages, there are inherent limitations to this type of testing.  These don’t address the testing of the actual functional requirements of the application. These tests only cover testing of each module in the application. Also, we can’t test scenarios like asynchronous services which require configuring of JMS message queues inside the application server. Having said that, this is one of the testing types which is very important and can be used to test as much application functionality as possible.

Multiple unit test cases constitute to form a test suite. There are several open source products which allow the application team to setup and run these unit test cases. One of the well-known products is called JUnit. Being most popular, it has good integrations with other tools (Eclipse) and frameworks (Ant, Maven).

These types of tests are usually written by developers as they work on code to ensure that the specific intended function is working. Unit testing alone cannot verify the functionality of a piece of software, but rather is used to assure that the building blocks using which the software is built, work independently of each other.

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Spring Book – Part II – Core Support by Spring

Any enterprise application is typically made of multiple components working in tandem to realize a business case. Usually the objects communicate with each other in some form to achieve this in an application. Achieving component interaction can be cumbersome and difficult to implement in any application. Even if it is considered easy to do, it might become very hard to replace a component with other component due to challenging business scenarios. Spring Framework does this sort of component interaction which can be seamlessly changed with changing scenarios efficiently and easily.

Part 2 builds on what you learned in Part 1 by delving into greater detail on Spring and its various features. Part 2 also focuses on the main goals and objectives that the Spring Framework addresses in an enterprise application. It’s quite a big part which spans eight Chapters in whole and gives the various core supports which the Spring framework provides, so that you can achieve these capabilities with ease while developing your application.

In Chapter 3, “Spring Quick Start,” I will explain how Spring works and is the basic principles it is based on. We’ll take a detailed look at bean definitions, accessing bean instance and various bean scopes available in the Spring Framework. We’ll also dig into Dependency Injection, the ApplicationContext class, and the ApplicationContext Lifecycle. We’ll do a deep dive into the various phases of the lifecycle so that you can get a solid understanding of the crux of the Spring Framework.

In Chapter 4 “Configuration Styles”, I will be explaining the various configuration styles that you can use in your Spring applications. On the way I will be giving brief explanation on the various annotations that you could use and finally gives a gives idea on the best practices for using various configuration styles in your application.

In Chapter 5, “Application Configuration – Simplified”, I will be giving some ideas as to how you can use he various simplification methods whereby you can reduce the configuration in your Spring application. I will also give you best practices that you can follow in some details with code samples.

In Chapter 6, “Enterprise Integration”, I will be covering enterprise integration capability which the Spring framework provides, which helps to easily integrate your application components to other components within the same application or third party application.

In Chapter 7, “Testing”, I will first be covering the general testing methodologies in any application to some detail. After that I will be covering each testing methodology along with the support provided by the Spring framework.

In Chapter 8, “Data Access”,  I will be giving you details as to how Spring framework supports in interacting between data access layer and the service layer in your application.

In Chapter 9, “Transaction Management”, transaction support by Spring framework is explained in full detail along with various basic transaction concepts which is key in any enterprise application that you will develop.

In Chapter 10, “Caching”, I will be explaining the various caching mechanisms that you can use in your applications and Spring’s support to do this integration with ease.

Chapter 3: Spring Quick Start

Chapter 4: Configuration Styles

Chapter 5: Application Configuration – Simplified

Chapter 6: Enterprise Integration

Chapter 7: Testing

Chapter 8: Data Access

Chapter 9: Transaction Management

Chapter 10: Caching

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