Archive for March, 2009


WebSphere custom user repository

If you already used JBoss you probably used (or at least knew there is) the DatabaseServerLoginModule. But, if you happen to be using WebSphere things are a little bit different. WebSphere (I guess version 6 onwards) comes with the powerful concept of the federated repository. This feature allows multiples sources for authentication and authorization. The final layout inside WebSphere ressembles an LDAP tree, every Repository is suffixed with an identifier.

But, unfortunately, through the Web Administration interface you are limited to LDAP and the builtin FileBased WIM authentication.

Another thing that makes it even harder is that there isn’t much documentation about these extended repositories.

There is one post from IBM that suggests that there are alternatives:

The information used for the registry lookup is customizable and can be made totally flexible if a custom registry is developed using the WebSphere Application Server custom registry interface.

But still there isn’t a single link from this article that points out how to achieve this. If you get the key words in this phrase and risk a Google search you’d end up finding how to do this on WebSphere 4, that, by the way, was much limitted when compared to what is available on WebSphere 6.

Refining this search a little bit you’ll find what you are looking for, how to do this on WebSphere 6. But you’ll only take this approach if you are willing to roll your own adapter, but be advised that this tutorial won’t cover every steps you need and this is the content of another post. There is a complex interface that needs to be implemented in order to fulfill the requirements of an WebSphere Repository. The complexity is derived from the fact that all method in this interface is based on commonj.sdo.DataObject class and this class maps an XML to a Java Object hierarchy making for now this implementation almost a guessing game since there isn't much public information regarding this interface contract.

But, returning to the original objective of the post that was to guide on how to make WebSphere authenticate users against a database, setup the DBAdapter using the guide that is found on this page. If you want, check the list of WebSphere builtin adapters here.

The last step is to create the tables for the database as described on step 3 of this post. This post in fact describes various possibilities for user repositories available in WebSphere.

JBoss DatabaseServerLoginModule adantages over WebSphere approach are its simplicity and flexibility but on the other hand, WebSphere Federated Repositories present a much more robust approach for handling user databases.

I’ll try to post some tips on how to roll your own Repository in the next few days.


Avoiding method timeouts in EJB Containers using Command Pattern with a JMS Queue

If you ever needed to run a complex processing in EJB that would take for example two minutes you probably have already faced the container time limitation for SessionBean methods.

This timeout (in contrast to what most think) isn’t there only to developer’s life harder. Actually, it is exactly the opposite: it is there to avoid that someone inadvertly implement a code that takes the whole server down (including your beloved application).

But there are times when long running operations are really necessary, for example a cache warmup.

MDBs are an exception

As in our project a few operations would easily violate this limitation we had to research a smart way of circumventing this limitation. During our research we found out this post on /dev/websphere blog. So we already knew that we would end up using a JMS Queue but having one Queue, MDB and so ever for each task would be a mess (not to mention that it was way too much work and not ellegant). So, that was when we came to the conclusion that what we needed was an way of having multiple tasks on top of the same infra-structure.

Command Pattern to the Rescue

We realized that by using an ObjectMessage that carried our Command object we would end up having a single queue that would handle all of our long running tasks. If there is specific context for the task processing we can have it stored in the Command Object (eg.: id of a purchase transaction that needs to be processed, or even the purchase object itself).

Sequence Diagrams for the solution

Let’s have an example, suppose we have a long running cleanup of a database that needs to be run in a timely manner. We would end up having the following flow of method calls:

JOB Submission on Working Queue

JOB Submission on Working Queue

Having the Command object implement Runnable interface is a wise idea (to avoid having another interface that is almost a Runnable clone not to mention that future JavaEE Asynch beans will probably be implemented on top of Runnable interface).

The next important part is the JOB execution, which is depicted below:

JOB execution Working MDB

JOB execution Working MDB

As mentioned on the notes, you need to be aware that the Transactional Context for the MDB MUST be Never, otherwise you’d avoid method timeouts but would still have transaction timeouts.

Another tricky part is splitting the long running task in smaller chunks that can execute under the method timeout.

As stated in the diagram, the LongRunningJOB code inside the run method is called inside the execution context of the MDB which is free from the method timeout limitation.

Signalling JOB return code

If you need to be notified that the JOB has finished its execution you’d need to have either another JOB passed as parameter to this JOB and it’ll be responsible of executing the code that would inform its return status OR have a message sent on a Temporary Queue OR the last option would be to submit a reply in another queue and have a CorrelationID link the request and the response message.


Architecture Evaluation using ATAM

Those who work as a Software Architect have already been tasked with something like:

“We need to develop an Web application with a huge aptitude to scale horizontally and also able to conform with tight response times”

If you are really an architect, you’ll start to make up the architecture either in your mind, on an UML tool or even on a simple paper. It is as easy as it was coded on you, by heart you start to scratch how the solution would look like and in the end it’ll probably meet all the functional and non-functional requirements you had been told.
This works in this scenario but imagine if now, instead of coming up with a proposal of an architecture you are tasked to evaluate someone else architecture.
This is the scenario where ATAM is the way to go. It was designed as a sucessor of Software Architecture Analysis Method (SAAM). ATAM is also already a very accepted methodology.

ATAM authors define it as:

“The purpose of the ATAM is to assess the on sequences of architectural decisions in light of quality attribute requirements.”

ATAM is based on meetings with key stakeholders from diferent areas. During these meetings key quality attributes (QA) are formalized for the architecture and are later detailed, they are also further prioritized in relation to the importance of each QA and also the risk of not having this QA complete.

The last step is the generation of a report containing (mainly):

  • Risks and Non-risks
  • Sensitivity and Tradeoff Points

If you have alredy this need, give a look on ATAM. I’ll try to post some insights on how to apply it on the next few weeks.


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