Thursday, July 31, 2008

Announce: Apache JaxMas

I'm glad to announce that the world has got yet another (tiny!) open source project, Apache JaxMas. JaxMas is basically a very, very incomplete JAXR implementation.

Why another JAXR implementation? The world has already got plenty of them, for example Apache Scout. My job is mainly about CentraSite, my employers implementation (there's more to it than a simple JAXR implementation, of course). But they all share a common problem: It is basically impossible to use them for unit testing and non-trivial, to use them within integration tests.

The problem is that they all require a running server. And, what's more, it is difficult to start from a predefined set. That's where JaxMas comes into play. JaxMas is running on HSQLDB. The embedded mode of HSQLDB is obviously ideal for unit tests. JaxMas is based on the assumption of an initial schema, that is created by the unit test. The schema is basically a set of SQL commands, but a macro processor allows to create taxononmies and other registry objects relatively easily.

Btw, you might ask me why I didn't choose Apache Derby as the engine. Well, I did initially, but DERBY-338 was blocking me. This issue prevents that two foreign key references exist between the same tables with different ON DELETE clauses. However, I need that feature for deleting even complex registry objects with a simple DELETE statement.

Friday, July 18, 2008


I am currently preparing a proposal for the Apache Labs. It will be something like an absolute minimal registry for writing JAXR based unit tests, running on Apache Derby. The idea is, that with existing registries (in my case CentraSite) you'll rarely be writing unit tests, because the overhead is so high, that nothing below integration tests makes sense.

Like any child, this one needs a name. With names, however, I am as inventive as the former federal german phone company. (The companies current successor is inventive, in particular with new ways to bill you for things that have been free in the past.) Usually, a projects name would be discussed on the corresponding mailing list.

In this case, however, it is more than likely, that I'll be the only user. So I though to ask here: As far as I know, this blog has at least two users and thats more than one, isn't it? So far my only idea was JaxMas, in honour of my former child JaxMe and due to the fact, that I had the idea on christmas. Better suggestions more than welcome!

Friday, July 4, 2008

When the human mind blocks itself

I am usually working in an office with some 40 other colleagues. The best piece of the office is (at least IMO), the espresso machine. It is one of these machines, which does everything for you by putting a cup on it and pressing a button: Coffee beans are grinded (wonderful flavour), pouring water, and finally pressing the coffee into your cup. That's it and the result has something you could actually call crema. (That is, it doesn't taste as well as in your favourite restaurant, but much better than what the traditional coffee machines gave you.) I like it and visit the place several times a day.

Of course, the "does everything" part ends for you. The water is empty? Got to refill it. No more beans? Got to fetch a bag from the rack. Other tasks include cleaning the machine, decalcify it, and the like. In german, the word user is frequently translated to "Bediener", which could as well mean servant. But that's as it is, you simply do it and are well of not to spend too many thoughts about it. (And, in particular, not writing silly blog entries like this ... :-)

The only question arising: When is the right time to perform these tasks? If you got your coffee and the machine informs you that it needs water, should you do this immediately, or leave it to the next coffee drinker?

Of course, it is polite to do it immediately. And, because it is polite, you are expected to do it. But, for whatever reason, you tend to visit the machine and find it announcing that it needs water or beans. May be, its people like me who honestly wish to be polite, but are simply too absorbed in their thoughts to notice the message when leaving. May be, there actually are (as some of us believe) undecent parasites, which leave the work to others. "It's always me" is a typical phrase near the coffee machine.

Now, let's try to consider the unimaginable: What if we all would decide to leave the job for the next one? Would it mean more work for anyone? Yes, it would, for the parasites (I personally doubt that they exist.) and for thoughtless people like me, who would actually need to do the job themselves. It would reduce the work of the honest, upright people who get never tired to encourage us not to leave the work to them. Noone would need to feel disadvantaged. It could simply work.

Of course, it doesn't. Because, at some point, someone would wish to be polite again. And then we'd have the circle. The human mind blocks itself ...