Saturday, January 31, 2009

Did you get used to WebLogic?

Last autumn it was quite a surprise for us when it turned out that after number of technical previews (four, actually) Oracle is giving up on OC4J and bringing BEA into its warm nest. Yeah, perhaps we should have listened better, or is it just me expecting that after TP1, TP2, TP3 and TP4 we get final release? Well, what's there is there. We had application in development which at some point took a turn from Jboss/Hibernate platform (it was quite a road, I tell you) and went Oracle style. In next series of posts we will describe in great detail what changing from on application server/persistence layer is like, and during last year we had two of them. Just when I was finishing the work on OC4J, big news of Weblogic coming to Oracle!

I remember that last summer there was a poll on Oracle forum. Question was if we started developing products with TP4. At the time about 54% of people said yes, and twenty something said that they are going to. It is good thing I didn't start writing this blog back then :D After some time, I can say that we're cool with our new app. server. It is not like we had any choice, but Weblogic is quite good.

Last few years I have been J2EE developer and I worked on Jboss and OC4J 10. So few words about them.

Jboss is cool. I did not use it in production, just in development, but it was fast enough, it is cheapest you can get, nice community, configuring is XML based, but no restarts needed.

OC4J 10. Well, at least it's got nce console... Not too nice, that default OC4J ADF look makes a man sick. Deployment was not flexible enough, speed, naah, and you needed to restart it quite more than you would like.

OK, then the previews came. 1,2,3,4... We had no graphic console, but I can't say that making command scripts really hurts. If you want point-click, you are in wrong business. But bugs... Jesus, Joe and Marry! Weird errors, null pointer exceptions when you have unique constraints, totally useless error logging... Try developing on a thing like that. You hope for a finale release, remember the old days when everything was cool. OK, not everything was cool, but I least knew what was going on.

So, what has Weblogic brought to us?

First, my favourite topic, persistence layer. We got EclipseLink now! And I am really happy! All those cool stuff we had in TopLink is now here, it's in the community, we can see source (not that I need it, but it is good feeling ;) ) , guys on the news group respond to all our stupid and not so stupid questions in reasonable time. Using it is almost out of the box, since we need to put couple more lines in our persistence.xml to override using KODO (more about this in next post), we ran into couple of bugs (easy, easy...), but I am satisfied, mostly because you can get a lot uf useful info.

I recomend this little site EclipseLink - Eclipsepedia and a news group.

Then Weblogic itself. Nice console, a lot of options for deployment, strong base of users... No wonder Oracle bought it. Not so nice thing is that old BEA forum was not avalilable when I was looking for some answers, although it was shown in Google search results, so I had to use Google cache... JMS services are more complex than we got used to. All server is, actually, around clustering and guys that were presenting us Weblogic couple of months ago were proud of that.

There are issues about compiling code (if you have generics), and structuring deployment archive. Adapting code that worked fine on Jboss and OC4J was not very pleasant thing, and the deployment archive we finally made work had quite unexpected structure. Now issues of transfering Oracle ADF security to a standalone production are main problem. We hope we will make it work... Just like everything else. I can only say for now that following instructions from Oracle site, was not enough.

Actually, it was never enough. We had to experiment a lot, got couple of times in dead end, and sometimes I had exceptions that only occured two times on Google... And no one knew answer.

I hope you had better luck. But we will be happy to share everythinig we found out so far. Maybe it will help someone (solidarity, brothers and sisters!) and perhaps some of you will have few pointers. On Monday I will start with basic persistence layer configuration and maybe few notes what doesn't work.

Well, earn your daily bread with Weblogic! It is a good life.