My 2021 Open-Source Year
Dec 31, 2021, 4:34 PM
For the last few weeks, I had a minor flurry of work in a couple of the open-source projects I maintain, and I figured this would be as good a time as any to give an overview of my active work in these projects and how they relate.
I had a few minor contributions and picked-up projects through the year, but most of my currently-public work went towards four main projects:
- Domino Open Liberty Runtime
- NSF ODP Tooling
- XPages Jakarta EE Support
- XPages Runtime (to a lesser extent for now)
I do find it interesting to consider how these relate. Some aspects are easy: they're all Domino-related for sure, and they all at one time or another have played a significant infrastructural role in my client work. Beyond that, though, they form a nebulous message: though I don't know for sure what to do with all the XSP markup we have, I know it can't be the status quo and I'm fairly confident that Jakarta EE is the best route forward.
Domino Open Liberty Runtime
This project allows you to run instances of Open Liberty as a spawned process from Domino, which in turn means both that you can readily(-ish) access Domino data and also that you can deploy these apps in an NSF-based way to your servers, without having to have particular mastery of Liberty administration as such.
The big-ticket news this year was my addition of a Domino-hosted reverse proxy and arbitrary JVM selection. With these additions, the project ended up being a particularly-compelling way to glom modern apps on to Domino without even necessarily worrying about pointing to a different port. I also added in the standalone proxy to both the apps and Domino - which would gain you Web Sockets and HTTP/2 - which is another nice way to get better app toolkits without having to bother an admin.
XPages Jakarta EE Support
This one saw a burst of activity in just this past month. For a while, it had sat receiving only minor tweaks: I use it for EL, CDI, and JAX-RS in my client project, and the changes I made were generally just to add features or fix bugs needed there.
This month saw the big switch from Java/Jakarta EE 8 (
javax.* packages) to Jakarta EE 9 (
jakarta.* packages). This was a very-interesting prospect: though it on paper just involved switching class names around, it necessitated adding some Servlet 5 shims around Domino's irreponsibly-old Servlet 2.4/2.5 hybrid layer. While this didn't bring full Servlet 5 features, it does mean I'm suddenly much less bound by the strictures of the older version: a lot of Servlet-based software casually depends on at least 3 even for just convenience methods (like getting a
ServletContext from a
I also took the opportunity to go back and add some features I've long wanted - JSP and MVC - to the NSF side. These have less immediate call in my client work (which primarily involves additions on the OSGi servlet layer and less in the NSF), but suddenly created a surprisingly-compelling update to in-NSF development. It's stymied by, naturally, a lack of support in Designer, but the idea of writing something that approaches a true modern Jakarta app inside an NSF is intriguing indeed.
NSF ODP Tooling
The NSF ODP Tooling has proven to be my workhorse. The ODP-to-NSF compilation alone has saved me countless hours from the previous laborious task of syncing two dozen NSFs with their ODPs and the fault-prone process of trying to get clean NTF copies of them for each build. Now, the former is done with a single script I can run in the background and the latter happens automatically every single push to our Git repository. Delicious.
It also provides an invaluable part of my normal development process for this client. Alongside the next project, it lets me do my XPages development outside of Designer, meaning I only need to schlep my way back to that IDE to look at legacy elements in context or to troubleshoot something with the Notes or Domino OSGi view of the world.
The work in this project this year has primarily been around edge cases, bug fixes, and scrambling through the rocky shoals of the ever-changing macOS Notes client. It's been a tough time here and there: certain parts of the NSF that I use less frequently have their own edge-case needs (like SSJS sort of existing in two places and the CD storage being surprisingly difficult to work with. I also had some fun combat with filesystems and charsets, which was fortunately even-more enlightening than it was annoying.
The XPages Runtime project admittedly had a slow year, but it's nonetheless a critical component in my CI/CD workflow, and gets periodic fixes for trouble I run into. The good news there is that it generally does what it promises: I run XPages outside of Domino constantly with this thing. Though it still requires more coordination on the app side than I'd like, it's gradually approaching a state where it feels like a peer to other server-side toolkits that one can bring into a WAR file, and that's nice.
It will likely have some work coming up in the near future, though: if I'm to move my client's app over to the
jakarta.* namespace, that will require at least some level of cooperation with this project. While I can't change the source of XPages to accept these coordinates itself, it should be doable to do much like what I did with the XPages Jakarta EE Support project and use my shims to translate back and forth between old and new classes. The main difference here will be that the surrounding container will speak the new form natively, but that should be fine.
I expect a certain amount of annoying trouble with things like XPages-internal expectations about JAX-B and JavaMail, and it's certainly possible that such dependencies will end up proving to be debilitating, but I'm optimistic. If I'm successful, it'll be one more way that I'm crafting a whole workflow where modern technologies are the primary target and XPages can remain a component in the lineup.
Miscellaneous Grab Bag
Beyond those big ones, I had a handful of other contributions here and there. I'm sure there were a few others, but I'll close on two that I found pleasing.
The other week, I got a Pull Request merged into the Eclipse Krazo project - while not a huge deal, it does always give me a little thrill when my code goes into a project where I'm not the primary or sole contributor.
I also adopted POI4XPages, which was for more-practical reasons. I've used POI4XPages for a couple clients for a while, but it was certainly showing its age (sitting at 3.x since 2017). Moreover, Notes 11's corruption of its classpath with POI 4.x made working with it annoying beyond just being out-of-date and lacking some breaking changes in the mean time. Since I had moved one of my clients to POI 5.0 a bit ago, I decided to break that code out and adapt it into POI4XPages. Then, of course, along came Log4Shell and I scrambled out three subsequent patch versions just to update log4j. So it goes.