Saturday, 27 August 2011

My OOW Presentations

If you're heading to OOW this year, it'd be great to have you at either one of my following presentations:

Session ID: 02240
Session Title: Angels in the Architecture: An Oracle Application Development Framework Architectural Blueprint
Venue / Room: Marriott Marquis - Golden Gate B
Date and Time: Wednesday 10/5/11, 01:00 PM

Oracle Application Development Framework (Oracle ADF) in Oracle JDeveloper 11g presents an interesting service-oriented solution with the adoption of bounded task flows and Oracle ADF libraries. Yet unlike its Release 10.1.3 counterpart, in which the tendency was to build one large application from the start, the 11g solution comes with its own challenges in terms of bringing the multiple moving parts into a composite master Oracle ADF application. This session presents a blueprint for Oracle ADF application architecture that can be applied to small and large projects alike to assist beginners in pulling 11g Oracle ADF applications together.

Session ID: 2241
Session Title: A Change Is as Good as a REST: Oracle JDeveloper 11g's REST Web Services
Venue / Room: Marriott Marquis - Golden Gate A
Date and Time: Thursday 10/6/11, 03:00 PM

It can seem like a hard slog to develop SOAP-based Web services, with their contract-first design requirements and over-engineered specification that includes everything but the kitchen sink. REST-based Web services provide light relief for quick Web service development, whereas the constraints of SOAP Web services feel extreme for some short, sharp development. Luckily, Oracle JDeveloper provides support for both styles, and this presentation includes a short and sweet demonstration of getting REST Web services up and running by using Oracle JDeveloper's support for the Java API for RESTful Web Services (JAX-RS).

In turn don't forget the day of ADF presentations for the ADF EMG on the User Group Sunday at Open World.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Book Review: Middleware and Cloud Computing: Oracle on Amazon Web Services and Rackspace Cloud

With the explosion of Internet content, especially that for the IT industry, it leaves an interesting question hanging over the worth (if any) of IT textbooks. When you can find an answer on just about anything online, what’s the point of shelling out money, especially for IT texts that have been overpriced for sometime?

Frank Munz’s Middleware and Cloud Computing: Oracle on Amazon Web Services and Rackspace Cloud book is a good reminder of one key fact about text books in context of an internet society, they can save you a lot of research and time on the internet looking for the nitty-gritty details.

The book is clearly aimed at system administrators & architects who are looking for details about moving Oracle Fusion Middleware (FMW) products to the cloud. A healthy dose of system admin knowledge is required of readers, with discussions on operating system (particularly Linux), us of command lines, and a knowledge of networking concepts would greatly assist too. FMW knowledge isn’t assumed, with an introductory chapter included, but knowledge in Oracle’s WebLogic Server (WLS) would be highly beneficial to readers, and a familiarity of Java EE technologies too.

Munz’s book is broken into logical halves. The first is a general introduction into “as a Service” cloud computing concepts. For readers who have heard the terminology but haven’t kept up with all the in’s and out’s of what a cloud service is, this provides an opportunity to learn the lingo and also learn how to critique the cloud offerings, which is (let’s just say) over hyped by IT marketing.

The first part of the book also takes care to look in depth at Amazon Web Services (AWS), including images, instances, storage and even pricing. In this area the book departs from a typical theoretical text encouraging readers to create their own AWS accounts and gives details on how to configure and run your own instance. The text however doesn’t just focus on AWS, and also looks at Rackspace’s equivalent cloud services.

The second half is where Munz’s book shines. Moving on from cloud basics, readers are led through considerations on designing and architecture within the cloud, management, availability and scalability, all in context of FMW and specifically of WLS and its supported JEE technologies. In each area the reader is brought back to specific considerations and limitations of Amazon’s & Rackspace’s platforms. On completing the book it becomes obvious this is a well thought out inclusion, as like enterprise home-baked operating systems and network infrastructure, cloud vendors’ platform are not born equal or include every feature required. The implication being certain FMW features and designs simply won’t work on specific cloud platforms.

The book isn’t without fault. Munz does take a narrative approach that may not be everybody’s cup of tea. In turn there’s a section that takes an unfortunate cop out on not tackling Oracle’s (let’s just say) less than favourable licensing. Yet overall the outcome for FMW professionals, in particular administrators and architects, is a positive one, and a recommended read. In turn it’s the careful research into actually testing what FMW features will really work on each cloud vendor’s platform, all collated into 1 book rather than sprayed across the internet, which will save readers significant time: prewarned is prearmed.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Book Review: Oracle ADF Enterprise Application Development Made Simple

There are very few pieces of software where a casual approach can be taken to the process of software development. Software development is intrinsically a difficult process, gathering requirements, design, development and testing all taking large effort. In reaction enterprises have setup and adopted strict development processes to build software (or at least the successful enterprises have ;-).

ADF and JDeveloper are sold as productivity boosters for developers. Yet in the end they are just a technology platform. By themselves they don't solve the complexities of software development process as a whole (though they do make parts of it easier).

This leaves IT departments struggling, as they might like the potential of ADF as a platform, but they intrinsically know there's more to software development, there's the process of development to consider. How will the tasks of requirement gathering, design, development & testing be applied to ADF? And more importantly how to shortcut the process of establishing these for ADF within the enterprise? There's a need to bring the two concepts together, the technology & the process, to help the adoption of ADF in the enterprise.

As ADF matures we're slowly seeing more books on Oracle's strategic JSF based web framework. Up to now the books have focused on the holistic understanding of the technical framework, the tricky & expert level implementation, or more recently the speed of development. Sten Vesterli's Oracle ADF Enterprise Application Development - Made Simple is the first to apply the processes and methodologies of design and development to ADF.

Of particular delight Sten's book starts out by suggesting building a proof of concept to skill up teams in ADF, to learn the complexities, & gather empirical evidence of the effort required. From here a focus on estimation and considerations of team structure are raised, all valuable stuff for the enterprise trying to control the tricky process of software development.

In order to make use of reuse, the next few chapters focus on the infrastructure and ADF constructs that need to be setup before a real project commences, including page templates, ADF BC framework classes and more. This is the stuff you wish you'd been told to create first if you forged ahead in building with ADF without any guidance.

Then chapter by chapter the tasks of building, adding security, internalization and other development efforts are covered. There's even a chapter on using JMeter to stress test your ADF app (with a link back to my blog! Thanks Sten).

As can be seen from the topics, there's relatively little consideration of actually implementing ADF Business Components or ADF Faces RC. As such it must be said reading this book won't make you an expert in the technical side of ADF, but rather will address how you can take a sensible approach to the overall development process.

All in all Sten Vesterli's Oracle ADF Enterprise Application Development - Made Simple is another valuable book in my ADF bookshelf and a recommended read for enterprise specialists looking at adopting ADF into their organisation.

Disclaimer: I know Sten personally and in addition Packt Publishing has provided me Sten's book for free to review.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Task flows: Sayonara auto AM nesting in Hello, ah, let's call it Bruce.

In my post from last week I documented the changing behaviour of task flows and Application Module nesting between the and 11.1.1.X.0 series of ADF & JDeveloper. In that post I detected a distinct change in the underlying behaviour of how ADF works with ADF BC Application Modules with certain task flow options and I was concerned this would destroy the scalability of our applications. To understand those concerns and the rest of this post you need to read that post to comprehend where I was coming from.

One of the fortunate things of being apart of the Oracle ACE Director program is behind the scenes, we and Oracle staff are often chatting and helping each other out, which I'm incredibly appreciative of. In this case I must raise my hat to Steven Davelaar and John Stegeman for their out of hours assistance in one form or another.

Regarding my last post, John made a reasonable point that I was making/drawing my conclusions far too early, that in fact I needed to test the complete task flow transaction life cycle to see if the behaviour of the task flows has changed in In particular John's good memory led him back to this OTN forum post by Steve Muench that stated:
In fact, in a future release we will likely be changing that implementation detail so that the AMs are always used from their own AM pool, however they will share a transaction/connection.
Steve's point from late 2010, and the one that John was re-affirming is that even though the underlying implementation may change, the end effect from the Bounded Task Flow (BTF) programmer's point of view, everything can still work the same. And this is what I needed to check, looking at what AM methods are called is not enough. I needed to check the actual database connections and transaction behaviour.

From my post I was concerned without auto AM nesting, a page comprised of several BTFs with separate AMs would spawn as many database connections compromising the scalability of the application. From the logs I thought this was the case as I could see two root AMs created and a separate (ie. two) call to prepareSession() for each. My assumption being this meant two connections were being raised with the database under, where alternatively using 11.1.1.X.0 is was only one database connection using the auto AM nesting feature.

However a query on the v$session table in the database using the solution:

SELECT * FROM v$session WHERE username = 'HR';

...showed only 1 connection. So regardless that there is 2 roots AMs instantiated under, they share connections (and therefore transactions too). In other words, while the end result is the same, the underlying implementation has changed.

I don't have a snazzy name for this new implementation vs the older auto AM nesting, so I figure we should call it Bruce to keep it simple (with apologies to Monty Python).

The only discrepancies between implementations we can see is that the prepareSession() and similar AM methods that deal with the connection or transaction (eg. afterConnect(), afterCommit()) are now called on the secondary AM as it's treated as a root AM rather than a nested AM. This was not the behaviour under 11.1.1.X.0 as nested AMs delegate that responsibility back to the root AM. This in turn may cause you a minor hiccup if you've overridden these method in a framework extension of the AppModuleImpl as they'll now be called across all your AMs, including those who used to be auto nested.

In returning to Steve Muench's point:
In fact, in a future release we will likely be changing that implementation detail so that the AMs are always used from their own AM pool, however they will share a transaction/connection.
Via http://localhost:7101/dms/Spy I've verified this is the case with Bruce, where under 11.1.1.X.0 is used to be a single AM pool, but now under there is 2 AM pools & 1 defined connection. The end effect and my primary concern from the previous blog post is now mute, the scalability of database connections is maintained. Bruce is a winner.

The interesting change under is the 1 AM pool vs many AM pools. Ignoring if at design time create nested AMs under the 1 root AM, traditionally with the runtime auto nesting AM feature you'd still have 1 root AM pool. Now for each root AM you'll end up with an associated AM pool. If you're app is made up of hundreds of AMs that were nested and used the AM pool of their parent, you'll now end up with hundreds of AM pools. Whether this is a problem is hard to tell without load testing an application with this setup, but Steve Muench does comment in a follow up to the OTN forum post "The AM pool in an of itself is not additional overhead, no."

So potentially the midtier is less scalable as it needs to maintain more pools and process them, to what degree we don't know. Yet, more importantly, we now have a relatively more flexible solution in terms of tuning the AM pools, because previously
it was an all or nothing affair with 1 AM pool under the auto AM nesting 11.1.1.X.0 approach (again ignoring design time nesting AMs under the root AM), and now with Bruce we've lots of find grained AM pools to tune. As such each pool can be tuned where an AM pool for a little used BTF can be set to consume less resources over a BTF with an AM pool that is hit frequently.

So, besides a couple of minor implementation changes (and if you find more please post a comment), it looks like Bruce is a winner.

Again thanks must go to John Stegeman for his assistance in working through his issues, and Steven Davelaar for his offer of support.