XAgents to Jakarta REST Services

Feb 5, 2023, 3:16 PM

  1. Code-First REST APIs With XPages Jakarta EE Support
  2. Code-First REST APIs Followup: OpenAPI
  3. XAgents to Jakarta REST Services

For a good long time now, XAgents have been one of the common ways to do non-HTML output in an XPages environment - JSON, mostly. I think the technique was codified and the term coined by Stephan Wissel back in 2008 and the idea has been the same since.

Effectively, an XAgent lets you write a Servlet but with a bit more scaffolding. Though XPages has a path to use Servlets officially, that method is more out-of-the-way than XAgents and doesn't (without further hoop jumping) give you some niceties like sessionAsSigner.

However, though they're venerable and sort of convenient, XAgents are lacking in a number of ways. For one, stuffing them inside an XPage is ungainly: even if the XPage just calls out to some Java code, you're polluting your UI-element space with something kind of unrelated, forcing you to name your XPages stuff like "apiEmployees.xsp". More importantly, though, it doesn't provide a lot of affordances for the sort of work you'd actually want to do when writing a REST API. Though XPages has a couple mechanisms for generating JSON, little of that is exposed by the XPage editor environment, and I suspect that many or most XAgents writing JSON commit the cardinal sin of doing so through direct string concatenation, likely often without much escaping. Further, there's no built-in mechanism for picking apart path segments or multi-branched routing.

So I figured today is a good opportunity to talk a bit about one of the XPages Jakarta EE Support project's flagship features: writing REST services that consume and emit JSON. This post covers some of the same ground I've talked about before, but sometimes it's useful to re-contextualize this sort of thing.

The XAgent Way

To level-set the discussion, I'll give a starting example in an XAgent, and we'll keep it simple. The idea here will be that you have Person documents in a database and you want to write an API that will take a UNID and emit the corresponding person's first and last name. This is very similar to the Employees example in the "Code-First REST API" example project from the JEE repo, but without diving into more-complex parts or the Jakarta NoSQL data layer.

In an XAgent, you might do something like this:

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<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<xp:view xmlns:xp="http://www.ibm.com/xsp/core" viewState="nostate" rendered="false">
	<xp:this.afterRenderResponse><![CDATA[#{javascript:
		var resp = facesContext.getExternalContext().getResponse();
		resp.setContentType("application/json");
		
		var writer = facesContext.getResponseWriter();
		
		var doc = database.getDocumentByUNID(param.unid);
		var result = toJson({
			"firstName": doc.getItemValueString("FirstName"),
			"lastName": doc.getItemValueString("LastName")
		});
		writer.write(result);
		
		writer.endDocument();
		facesContext.responseComplete();
	}]]&gt;</xp:this.afterRenderResponse>
</xp:view>

You'd put that in an XPage and call it like:

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$ curl http://your.server/someapp.nsf/apiPeople.xsp?unid=68D1CAA80F65780D8525894D006B1CE7
{"lastName":"Fooson","firstName":"Foo"}

That does the job well enough. However, this will get gangly very fast. If you want to expand on the types of data the Person document contains, add more operations to the API, add other query parameters, or so forth, you'll have to either have a giant blob of code here, spin it off to an SSJS script library, or move it to Java classes. And, all along the way, the dev environment won't be giving you any help with the process - it knows nothing about writing REST APIs, and so it's all "manual". Better than with a classic agent, but not great.

Jakarta Way, Take 1

So let's move this over to Jakarta EE. We'll start by doing basically a concept-for-concept move: just take the above and make a REST class out of it.

Such a class could look something like this:

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package rest;

import com.ibm.xsp.extlib.util.ExtLibUtil;

import jakarta.json.Json;
import jakarta.json.JsonObject;
import jakarta.ws.rs.GET;
import jakarta.ws.rs.core.MediaType;
import jakarta.ws.rs.Path;
import jakarta.ws.rs.PathParam;
import jakarta.ws.rs.Produces;

import lotus.domino.Database;
import lotus.domino.Document;
import lotus.domino.NotesException;

@Path("v1/person")
public class PersonResourceV1 {
	
	@Path("{unid}")
	@GET
	@Produces(MediaType.APPLICATION_JSON)
	public JsonObject get(@PathParam("unid") String unid) throws NotesException {
		Database database = ExtLibUtil.getCurrentDatabase();
		Document doc = database.getDocumentByUNID(unid);
		
		return Json.createObjectBuilder()
			.add("firstName", doc.getItemValueString("FirstName"))
			.add("lastName", doc.getItemValueString("LastName"))
			.build();
	}
}

This one you'd call in a similar way, and get similar results:

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$ curl http://your.server/someapp.nsf/xsp/app/v1/person/68D1CAA80F65780D8525894D006B1CE7
{"firstName":"Foo","lastName":"Fooson"}

There's a bit more boilerplate - it is Java - but you can already see some of the benefits. The URL is a little more REST-like and the code is much more task-focused. Instead of disabling all the normal features of the XPage and manually emitting text, a large amount of the code is explicitly describing what you intend to do in a REST service. The @Path annotations describe the components of the URL, and the use of @Path("{unid}") lets us name one of those parts without having to do a query string. Similarly, the @GET and @Produces(MediaType.APPLICATION_JSON) lines directly say what's going on: you can do a GET request to the URL and get JSON back.

These annotations pay off in a couple ways. First of all, the code will be a lot easier to understand when you come back later. Imagine if your API also handled new documents, deletions, and modifications - with an XAgent, you'd have branching paths and would have to rely on either good naming or commenting to mentally traverse it. With this, you would have other methods with similar annotations - @PUT, @POST, @DELETE - and would see exactly where requests are going to go.

And it's not just for you the programmer (or for the next human replacing you when you retire to a beach somewhere): these annotations mean something to tools that process it as well. One such tool comes with the XPages JEE project: the MicroProfile OpenAPI generator. With this class present, you automatically get a useful OpenAPI spec:

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$ curl http://your.server/someapp.nsf/xsp/app/openapi.yaml
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---
openapi: 3.0.3
info:
  title: XAgent Comparison
servers:
- url: http://your.server/someapp.nsf/xsp/app
paths:
  /v1/person/{unid}:
    get:
      parameters:
      - name: unid
        in: path
        required: true
        schema:
          type: string
      responses:
        "200":
          description: OK
          content:
            application/json:
              schema:
                type: object

This sort of thing pays off tremendously once you start working with a client JS app, especially with a larger development team.

Jakarta Way, Take 2

But we can do better than this. As it is, the direct translation from the XAgent still left the actual output pretty vague. We at least know it's emitting a JSON object, but that's the extent of it. Moreover, the app code wastes some conceptual time actually building the JSON object, which is okay but unnecessary. Let's bring JSON Binding into the mix. This will increase the size of the code, but will pay off in conceptual cleanliness and in future work.

That could look like:

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package rest;

import com.ibm.xsp.extlib.util.ExtLibUtil;

import jakarta.validation.constraints.NotEmpty;
import jakarta.ws.rs.GET;
import jakarta.ws.rs.core.MediaType;
import jakarta.ws.rs.Path;
import jakarta.ws.rs.PathParam;
import jakarta.ws.rs.Produces;

import lotus.domino.Database;
import lotus.domino.Document;
import lotus.domino.NotesException;

@Path("v2/person")
public class PersonResourceV2 {
	
	// Normally, this class would be in a separate file
	public static class Person {
		private String firstName;
		private @NotEmpty String lastName;
		
		public String getFirstName() {
			return firstName;
		}
		public void setFirstName(String firstName) {
			this.firstName = firstName;
		}
		public String getLastName() {
			return lastName;
		}
		public void setLastName(String lastName) {
			this.lastName = lastName;
		}
	}
	
	@Path("{unid}")
	@GET
	@Produces(MediaType.APPLICATION_JSON)
	public Person get(@PathParam("unid") String unid) throws NotesException {
		Database database = ExtLibUtil.getCurrentDatabase();
		Document doc = database.getDocumentByUNID(unid);
		
		Person result = new Person();
		result.setFirstName(doc.getItemValueString("FirstName"));
		result.setLastName(doc.getItemValueString("LastName"));
		return result;
	}
}

Calling this will work the same way as last time, but with a "v2" to indicate our new-and-improved back end:

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$ curl http://your.server/someapp.nsf/xsp/app/v2/person/68D1CAA80F65780D8525894D006B1CE7
{"firstName":"Foo","lastName":"Fooson"}

What does this get us? Well, for one, we're no longer explicitly working with JSON, which is nice. We could change the media type to XML and the output type will automatically adapt, and the same will go for any future formats we write an adapter for. Additionally, this will work better with a more-structured database access layer. I'll leave that part out here, but the aforementioned "Code-First REST API" example shows that.

Some more of the payoff shows up when we check the generated OpenAPI spec. If we make the same call as above, the output will be more descriptive now:

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---
openapi: 3.0.3
info:
  title: XAgent Comparison
servers:
- url: http://your.server/someapp.nsf/xsp/app
paths:
  /v2/person/{unid}:
    get:
      parameters:
      - name: unid
        in: path
        required: true
        schema:
          type: string
      responses:
        "200":
          description: OK
          content:
            application/json:
              schema:
                $ref: '#/components/schemas/Person'
components:
  schemas:
    Person:
      required:
      - lastName
      type: object
      properties:
        firstName:
          type: string
        lastName:
          minLength: 1
          type: string

For someone consuming this spec, this is starting to get really good. No longer does the output just say it's a generic JSON object: now it describes it as "Person", shows the two properties that will be output, and declares that lastName will always be at least one character both for input and output. As you add more operations and types, this spec will continue to grow, naturally piggybacking on the annotations and types you write.

Conclusion

Strictly speaking, you can do the same stuff with an XAgent that you can with the XPages JEE project. You could manage the internal complexity and you could manually write the OpenAPI spec, but it would be much, much harder to do, and I think it'd be a safe bet to say that very few XAgent-based APIs have specs to go with them anyway.

Especially as the scope of your app grows, the development and maintenance experience with the JEE approach is night-and-day compared to classical mechanisms like XAgents. If you're still writing APIs that way or similar, I definitely recommend you give this path a try.

Overdue PSA: Reverse-Proxy Headers in Domino 12.0.1FP1 and Newer

Jan 25, 2023, 12:03 PM

  1. Putting Apache in Front of Domino
  2. Better Living Through Reverse Proxies
  3. Domino's Server-Side User Security
  4. A Partially-Successful Venture Into Improving Reverse Proxies With Domino
  5. PSA: Reverse-Proxy Regression in Domino 12.0.1
  6. Overdue PSA: Reverse-Proxy Headers in Domino 12.0.1FP1 and Newer

Just over a year ago now, I wrote a blog post describing the sudden removal of my beloved HTTPEnableConnectorHeaders notes.ini parameter in the 12.0.1 release.

However, during the administration-focused OpenNTF Repair Café today, I was reminded that I never modified that post or made a followup to detail the changes since then. I plan to remedy that here!

The gist of the trouble with 12.0.1 was that the connector-headers capability was removed in 12.0.1 for "security" reasons, but no suitable replacement was put in their place. Fortunately, enough people made good use of these headers that HCL reversed course a bit, and in the process improved the capability slightly. I don't know if it's properly documented anywhere, though; in any event, I can't find the changes in a Google search.

In (I believe) 12.0.1 Fix Pack 1 and later, the HTTPEnableConnectorHeaders parameter is functional again, allowing you to use the reverse-proxy-focused headers like $WSRH for the connecting remote host. The change they made is to make a distinction between those "safe" headers and "dangerous" ones like $WSRU (which lets you specify the act-as user). Though a little blunt, this is a nice improvement. If you set just HTTPEnableConnectorHeaders to 1, then you'll get the headers primarily used for normal reverse-proxy use but SSO-related ones like $WSRU will be stripped from the incoming request. If you want to enable $WSRU, you can set HTTPEnableDangerousConnectorHeaders to 1 on top of the former and it'll act like pre-12.0.1.

While I still hope that they'll provide more fine-grained control, such as making the headers only function when the proxy server matches the "Trusted proxy IP list" setting in the server doc, and also supporting pseudo-standard headers like X-Forwarded-For, this is a step in the right direction.

My 2022 Year In Review

Jan 3, 2023, 2:46 PM

Tags: open-source

When I remember, I like to do a bit of a year-in-review post, which generally revolves around my open-source work. For that purpose, I realized that my GitHub commit graph can set the stage nicely:

My GitHub commits in 2022

Apparently, April and October were busy months for the client work I do that isn't on github.com.

Projects

XPages JEE Support

My biggest project for the year was definitely the XPages Jakarta EE Support project. At the end of last year, I made the move to Jakarta EE 9 as the baseline, with its associated package-name switch from javax.* to jakarta.*. This move really let the project flourish. Since I'm no longer regularly fighting with the ancient versions of JEE specs that ship as part of the XPages stack, I've been able to add a bunch of new features, such as JSF, Concurrency, Transactions, and improved Servlets. I've also been able to make huge strides on the Jakarta NoSQL support, adding the necessary evil of view-based operations and provisional drivers for the AppDev Pack and Keep.

Though that project is starting to get very constrained by Jakarta EE 10's move to Java 11 as a base requirement, there's still a lot of work I can do with the EE 9 specs. I have some larger ideas in mind and I have a stack of issues in the list of various sizes to look at. This project is the baseline for one of my larger client projects, and it's my current best idea for what Java development with Domino should look like.

NSF ODP

Next up would probably be my workhorse, the NSF ODP Tooling. Though I put out a good few releases this year, they've primarily been about compatibility with new Eclipse and macOS releases. macOS compilation in particular is a real bugbear: the OS's tightening restrictions and Notes's varying ways of adapting to them have made it a real moving target.

I've had it in my mind for a while now to add a specific Docker-based compilation option. It's always been possible to run the compilation inside Docker by building your own container and using the tooling within it, but it'd be useful to have that as a standardized thing controlled by the Maven plugin. That way, you'd still do the normal Maven commands for your environment and, if configured, it would build an image internally based on the Domino container image and do the build in there. That should be more reliable, particularly for macOS and Windows, but I'll have some fiddly details to iron out. Should be doable, though - it's on my hopeful list for this year.

Domino Open Liberty Runtime

The Open Liberty Runtime project is in a weird spot. It's been progressing in fits and spurts, and it's gradually moving towards a good future. My general notion for it is to make it an easier way to run tasks attached to a Domino server. So far, those "tasks" have been specifically Liberty running webapps, but the core concept is just that it's managing executables that can cooperate with the Domino server. I'd like to make this more generic, smoothing the process of running other Java-based tasks with an arbitrary JVM and potentially managing non-Java executables as well. There have been some rocky days in there dealing with the changing landscape for how open-source JVM builds are located and deployed, but the growth of the Adoptium Marketplace and its stable API looks to have settled things down for me.

Other Stuff

Beyond specific projects, I can think of a few notable public things for me this past year.

Local Library Work

Since shortly after I moved to my current house, I've been involved with the Friends of the Library group for the local branch of our library system. This past year, I also joined the overall board for the system, as its bylaws reserve a seat for a member of each of the Friends groups. This has been interesting, since, while it's still a comparatively-low-key thing, it's a bit more structured of a group than other organizations I've been involved with. It's also been a good way to keep a bit more informed about local politics without actually getting into local politics.

Also, we just officially went fine-free today, which is neat. That's one of those things where you originally think that fines are essentially required, but statistics show that they're effectively just a tax on poor kids and systems are better off dropping basic fines. I'm pretty pleased with the move.

Mastodon

I remain thoroughly pleased with my mostly-move to Mastodon. I still check Twitter, but I've been cutting down on follows over there, mostly from service accounts and those who have also made the switch. It feels like a loose tooth now, and is mostly waiting for replacement by a good Mac client. I got in the Ivory beta a while back, and slotted that right in place where Tweetbot used to be on my phone.

With any luck, Twitter will continue to be afflicted by catastrophe after catastrophe and more people will make the jump. If you haven't yet, I certainly suggest you give it a shot. I like Action Retro's video for a primer.

GitHub Sponsors

A few months ago, I set up a GitHub Sponsors profile. I figure this may be a good way to handle some cases where something I'm doing doesn't rise to the level of a whole contract or to essentially "vote" in favor of me doing the sort of open-source work I do. Admittedly, I expect I'll keep doing that regardless, but the contributions I've received so far are very gratifying.

Resolutions

I haven't been the sort of person to do New Year's Resolutions as such, but I still figure it's a nice time of year to make general plans and goals for the year. For example, I found that my gaming habits got into a bit of a rut last year - lots of Stardew Valley and Terraria, and fewer games that I haven't already played to death. I've got a growing stack of acclaimed games to play, and I'd like to work down the list, even when the games are older than dirt. Same goes for reading: considering I'm on the board of the library system, I sure don't do a lot of book reading lately. I should fix that!

Beyond that, we'll see. There are some neat things going on at OpenNTF that could set the tone for the year - in the short term, we're planning on running some "repair cafés" this month as a way to do another kind of community interaction. I wouldn't mind doing that sort of thing more often; I've done a few "let's talk about Java" calls in the past and always enjoy them. I hope those take off enough for us to do them regularly.

In any event: Happy New Year!

New Small Project: WebFinger For Domino

Dec 6, 2022, 10:47 AM

As part of moving more of my attention over to ActivityPub/Mastodon, I've seen a couple posts like this one describing how you can configure your primary domain to contain information that can lead searches to find your Mastodon account.

Most often, this is useful for people who have their own blog but use one of the larger existing Mastodon instances for their social activity. I'm not quite in that circumstance, but I still wouldn't mind it if you could look up my name as "@jesse@frostillic.us" and have it resolve to my actual account of "@jesse@pub.frostillic.us". Not a huge thing, but also seemingly not difficult to solve.

So, this morning, I set out to solve it. Before I get to the project I made, I'll make this clear: the reasonable way to do this would be to put a static JSON file up and have the "query" URL point to it. I didn't do it the reasonable way, but I didn't do it entirely unreasonably either.

How It's Done

The main mechanic in this sort of redirect lookup is WebFinger, a historically-but-disturbingly-named RFC from 2013. The idea of that is to be a HTTP-and-JSON-based equivalent for the sort of thing one used to use finger for. As is often the case, it's generalized beyond the specific need here, and it'd be interesting to implement more of its options, but for now the useful part is to be able to lookup a "resource" like acct:jesse@frostillic.us to get account info.

Mastodon provides this and related services for users in its directory, but that wouldn't help for trying to alias a user that doesn't exist in there. Since I'm already using Domino for my user store, I decided to implement a simple version of this to look up this info from Domino itself.

WebFinger For Domino

Thus was born the WebFinger For Domino project, which I expect to be a minor project with few releases. This project includes a single Servlet, listening at "/.well-known/webfinger", and it only supports lookups of account resources in the format that Mastodon uses. If you visit, for example, "https://frostillic.us/.well-known/webfinger?resource=acct:jesse@frostillic.us", you'll get output like this:

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{
  "aliases": [
    "https://frostillic.us"
  ],
  "subject": "acct:jesse@frostillic.us",
  "links": [
    {
      "rel": "http://webfinger.net/rel/profile-page",
      "href": "https://pub.frostillic.us/@jesse"
    },
    {
      "rel": "self",
      "href": "https://pub.frostillic.us/users/jesse",
      "type": "application/activity+json"
    },
    {
      "template": "https://pub.frostillic.us/authorize_interaction?uri={uri}",
      "rel": "http://ostatus.org/schema/1.0/subscribe"
    }
  ]
}

If you try to look up a user that doesn't exist or isn't explicitly configured to participate in this, you'll get a 404 Not Found response.

As when I added the "MastodonUsername" field to begin with, I implemented this by adding some new fields to my Person document:

Screenshot of new fields in my names.nsf Person document for WebFinger use

These fields are included directly or used to compose the URLs above. The specifics are documented in the project README.

It seems to hold together well enough, in that I was able to successfully search for my user by "@jesse@frostillic.us", and that's all I could ask. If you're using Mastodon and have your own Domino-backed domain, give the project a look.

XPages Jakarta EE 2.9.0 and Next Steps

Nov 22, 2022, 12:53 PM

  1. Updating The XPages JEE Support Project To Jakarta EE 9, A Travelogue
  2. JSP and MVC Support in the XPages JEE Project
  3. Migrating a Large XPages App to Jakarta EE 9
  4. XPages Jakarta EE Support 2.2.0
  5. DQL, QueryResultsProcessor, and JNoSQL
  6. Implementing a Basic JNoSQL Driver for Domino
  7. Video Series On The XPages Jakarta EE Project
  8. JSF in the XPages Jakarta EE Support Project
  9. So Why Jakarta?
  10. Adding Concurrency to the XPages Jakarta EE Support Project
  11. Adding Transactions to the XPages Jakarta EE Support Project
  12. XPages Jakarta EE 2.9.0 and Next Steps

Keeping with my productive week off, today I release version 2.9.0 of the XPages Jakarta EE Support project. Similar to the previous release, this one contains new features primarily related to Jakarta NoSQL, but also has some improvements for JSF and a bunch of bug fixes and compatibility improvements.

Jakarta NoSQL

The improvements to the JNoSQL driver come from some needs I came across when moving older lotus.domino/ODA-based code to using JNoSQL repositories. In particular, I added the remaining applicable view entry properties as available fields to map, added better support for reading note IDs, and fetching documents by note ID.

JSF

While JSF support remains limited by not having a proper way to add in third-party component libraries like PrimeFaces, it's still a potentially-compelling tool in an NSF as an alternative to XPages in some cases. Accordingly, I fixed a few bugs I had run into when loading pages after modifying the NSF design. Additionally, I fixed up support for JSF as an MVC view engine. It now properly joins JSP as a mechanism for rendering your output with an MVC structure, and I think there's some real potential there.

Bug Fixes and Compatibility

Most of the other closed issues deal with a few bugs here and there, and in particular involve some improvements for running apps in XPiNC and on a server with Domino Leap also installed. I don't use XPiNC anymore and haven't tried Leap, so I greatly appreciate bug reports specific to these and the assistance in tracking down the trouble.

The Future and Next Steps

I'm pondering now what the next release of the project will focus on. I have no shortage of feature ideas, and there are a few potentially-disruptive changes I'd like to make.

Unfortunately, those changes will be largely confined to improving the support for the specs that are already present and not advancing to new versions. The predicted Java-version wall arrived: Jakarta EE 10 is out and requires Java 11 and above. Since Domino remains mired in Java 8, that means that new versions of the specs and implementations are hard-incompatible until that changes.

On the plus side, there's still a lot of improvements I can make with Jakarta EE 9 as the baseline.

Reorganization

One big one I've been thinking about is a reorganization of the individual libraries that make up the project. The way it's been designed, almost every spec has its own Equinox Feature and XPage Library to go with it. This was fine early on when it was just CDI, EL, and JAX-RS, but it's grown annoying: installing the project in Designer is a seemingly-endless process of approving each plug-in at a time and the list of libraries to check in Xsp Properties is interminable. More critically, being able to selectively turn on and off specs like this doesn't make sense anymore. CDI has grown so important to Jakarta EE in general and this spec in particular that it doesn't make sense to not have it present if you're going to use this project at all. It's a foundational component of so many other parts and is essentially The Way to do Jakarta-based development.

So I'm thinking I'm going to reorganize the projects into fewer features and libraries, which will be a breaking change that will necessitate a bump to 3.0 - fortunately, the numbers line up well for that. I have a few potential options here:

  1. Just lump them all into one. You'd have basically one big switch to say "this is a JEE project" and everything would be on. The virtue here is that this is how I already work and is essentially the recommended way to do things. Additionally, as far as I know, while having additional components may slow first load (though not as much as other parts), I don't think they have a significant impact if enabled but unused during runtime.
  2. Try to line the specs up with one of the existing Jakarta Profiles. Those profiles are meant to be curated selections of useful specs, and this project has enough to implement what in newer versions is deemed the Core Profile. The trouble with this, though, is that the Core Profile is very much geared to be the shared subset with MicroProfile and similar and is a bit thin for Domino's monolith-focused development style. The Web and Full profiles, on the other hand, require "traditional" APIs like EJB that are not present in this project.
  3. Break them apart into my own "core" and "optional" features. For example, it doesn't make sense to use this without JAX-RS, CDI, and Bean Validation enabled, but JSF is entirely independent of the other specs and is among the least likely to be used in practice for now. This would also allow me to establish a running flow where "experimental" features start out as optional add-ins and then eventually make their way to core.

I'm currently waffling between #1 and #3, with a slight lean towards #1. If I can be sure that either everything or nothing is present, I could get rid of some weird hedges and workarounds, like how the JAX-RS implementation doesn't "officially" know about the CDI library yet references CDI classes explicitly by name.

New Application Types

Currently, to use this project, you can either put your code into an NSF and use the automatic behavior of the libraries or you can put your code in OSGi-based webapps or Servlets and then manually manage integration with these specs.

Both of these are limited by their reliance on the many assumptions IBM built in to how these apps should work. In-NSF apps require that all Jakarta code come from a request including "xsp" in the URL or to a file ending in ".jsp", ".jsf", or ".xhtml". If you're writing, say, an MVC-based app, all of your URLs are going to have to start with something like "foo.nsf/xsp/app/...", which is okay but ugly. Additionally, the way these apps are implemented - NSFComponentModule - severely limits my hooks for listening for things like application and session expiration, which hampers CDI's lifecycle handling a bit.

For a good while, I've pondered the notion of adding another ComponentModule type to handle the case where you want to go all-in on Jakarta EE. With this idea, the new module implementation would have full control over incoming requests, allowing URLs without the xsp/app bit in there, and would have better handling of lifecycles. In this way, I could make it so that your could would look more like (or be identical to) a "normal" .war-based webapp, with fewer workarounds for the existing XPages stuff. This would also allow me to do things like lessen the amount of Servlet 2.5-to-5.0 bridging and could assist tremendously in improving JSF support.

Along similar lines, I've been considering doing something similar for OSGi-based webapps, and I've made some progress along those lines in a feature branch. The idea here would be to do something similar to how you can deploy web.xml-based webapps via OSGi now, but with built-in support for Jakarta EE 9 features (with web.xml then being optional). With this setup, you'd be able to write an app that does an Import-Package for the various jakarta.* packages you want and add a bit in your MANIFEST.MF to signal to this project that it should participate. This could either be a variant of the extension point used by the existing OSGi webapp support or using the Web-ContextPath directive from the OSGi spec. One of the goals here would be to make it so that you would be able to write a Jakarta EE 9 app using normal development tools - Eclipse/IntelliJ/VS Code, Maven, etc. - and then just use maven-bundle-plugin to add the OSGi info you need without having any specific dependencies on Domino bits, especially the nightmare of depending on the non-redistributable XPages OSGi artifacts.

Other Options

And, in the mean time, I have a bunch of other tasks I could work on. Slowly converting my client project to Jakarta NoSQL instead of direct ODA use has turned up a whole slew of things that would be useful to add (for example, stampAll support), so I can slowly burn down that feature-request list.

There's also the notion of documentation! While a lot of the behavior of this project is in theory documented by virtue of the upstream specs and the general world of Jakarta blogs, videos, and courses, there's enough to know about the specifics of the interactions with Domino that more documentation is in order. Historically, I've just done this by expanding the README, but it's gotten pretty unwieldy at this point. It would probably make sense to break the specifics and examples out into at least wiki pages, if not a format that can be built into a PDF/etc. and included in the distribution.

So yep, I'll have my hands busy with this thing for a good while more, I figure.

More Open-Source Updates for Notes/Domino 12.0.2

Nov 21, 2022, 1:27 PM

The other day, I talked about some changes/workarounds for Notes/Domino 12.0.2. Today, I made a few updates to some of the open-source projects I maintain, including another update to the generate-domino-update-site Maven plugin.

Domino Update Site Generator

In the 4.2.0 release, I added code to (mostly, as it turns out) account for HCL moving the NAPI implementation JAR down to jvm/lib/ext. In subsequent use, I found that, while that will suffice for building applications that use the OSGi dependencies, it didn't work for launching applications using it as a baseline - namely, the NSF ODP Tooling Maven plugin.

Today, I released a 4.2.1 version that improves this behavior by re-adding dependencies in the implementation bundle.

I also created a project page for it on OpenNTF. Though the project has always been hosted at the OpenNTF org on GitHub, I hadn't created a project page for it due to it just being a standalone Maven plugin. I figured it'd be useful to create an official page there for it, though.

NSF ODP Tooling

Speaking of the NSF ODP Tooling, I also found that local operations once again started crashing on macOS. Due to changes in macOS and the very weird ways that Notes works, local operations on there are a very moving target, and I have to do a lot of work in the project to account for changes to the embedded JVM and whether specific Notes versions work better with HotSpot or OpenJ9 JVMs.

Long story short, I release 3.10.0 today to account for this. Though I've found that the spawned JVM will still sometimes crash, it's after completing its work, so I considered that fine for now.

OpenNTF Domino API

Finally, I came to the OpenNTF Domino API. This project has admittedly been neglected for a little while: I'm the only active maintainer, and the client project I use it in targets Domino 11.0.1, so the 12.x builds have remained in an incomplete state for a while.

With the release of 12.0.2, I decided I should finish the wrappers for the new classes added in 12.x, so I did so and uploaded a build for 12.0.2. This primarily adds those wrappers, but also included a contributed fix and changes the distribution packaging to combine the XSP and non-XSP versions.

Notes/Domino 12.0.2 Fallout

Nov 17, 2022, 1:45 PM

Tags: designer java
  1. AbstractCompiledPage, Missing Plugins, and MANIFEST.MF in FP10 and V10
  2. Domino 11's Java Switch Fallout
  3. fontconfig, Java, and Domino 11
  4. Notes/Domino 12.0.2 Fallout

Notes and Domino 12.0.2 came out today. Generally, there are some neat features in development and on the server, but there are also a couple things you may run into depending on your workflow and installation type.

Update Site NSF

The update site NSF that ships with Domino uses SWT for some of its GUI elements when importing contents. This still works fine in the 32-bit client, but is broken in the 64-bit client. My guess on that front is that the 64-bit client doesn't come with a 64-bit native SWT JAR, probably because the SWT version used for this likely pre-dates x64's popularity on the desktop.

For now, the workaround is to use a 32-bit client if you're working with the Update Site NSF. Karsten said he's going to patch the OpenNTF version of the NSF to deal with this, so you can also wait for that one.

Domino Update Site Generator

I maintain the generate-domino-update-site Maven plugin that can be used to generate update sites for OSGi development against the Domino stack. These sites are replacements for the IBM Domino Update Site for Build Management, which was released for 9.0.1 and never updated since. Only HCL can make a new distributable version of that, so my tool lets you generate one for yourself from a Notes or Domino installation.

In 12.0.2, HCL shunted the NAPI implementation JAR down to jvm/lib/ext to support the shared JARs between XPages and agents feature. As a side effect, existing versions of my plugin would lack the NAPI classes.

Today, I released version 4.2.0, which fixes this and also contains improvements to let the plugin work on current Java versions and generate sites based on 12+ macOS clients.

Along these lines, I made Aha idea DDXP-I-352 a couple years ago to request that HCL provide such sites themselves or give OpenNTF permission to provide them, so I'd appreciate it if you voted for that.

The Target Platform Bug

This isn't a new thing, but it's worth mentioning here since it comes up frequently: the target platform bug from 9.0.1FP10 remains. As of earlier this year, defect article KB0086688 mentions this, though the status is "Deferred". If this afflicts you, it may help to bring it up with Support and reference that article.

Tinkering with Mastodon, Keycloak, and Domino

Nov 10, 2022, 1:01 PM

Tags: admin keycloak

Because of what I'll euphemistically call the current historical moment on Twitter, I (like a lot of people) decided to give another look at Mastodon. The normal way one would use it would be to sign up at mastodon.social and be on one's merry way, treating it just like a slightly-different Twitter.

However, Mastodon is intentionally designed to be federated in a way similar to email, and the software is available on GitHub complete with scripts for Docker Compose, Vagrant, and so forth. So I went and did that, setting up my currently-barely-used account at @jesse@pub.frostillic.us.

That on its own isn't particularly notable, nor are the specifics of how I set it up (it was a hodgepodge of a couple posts you can find by looking for "mastodon docker compose"). What I found neat for our purposes here was the way I could piggyback authentication onto stuff I had recently done with Keycloak. Keycloak, incidentally, was the topic of today's OpenNTF webinar, so, if you didn't see it, check back there for the replay when it's posted.

Having done the legwork for setting up Keycloak backed by Domino LDAP for my earlier tinkering, the setup to work with Mastodon was pretty straightforward (as far as these things go). I did the professional thing and took the basic config from a StackOverflow post, tweaking it to suit my needs.

The main Domino-y thing I wanted to tweak here was the username that I ended up with on Mastodon. Internally, the Domino short name for my account is "jgallagh", but I like to go by "jesse" when in an environment small enough to get away with it. So I cracked open the names.nsf subform I had added years ago for POSIX and SSH pubkey purposes and added a Mastodon section:

Screenshot of a 'Mastodon Attributes' section in a names.nsf

(apologies for how bad the new-era fonts look in my poor old Windows VM)

Then, I told my Mastodon config about that field for the UID:

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OIDC_ENABLED=true
OIDC_DISPLAY_NAME=frostillic.us Auth
OIDC_DISCOVERY=true
OIDC_ISSUER=https://<keycloak_url>/auth/realms/<real>
OIDC_AUTH_ENDPOINT=https://<keycloak_url>/auth/realms/<real>/.well-known/openid-configuration
OIDC_SCOPE=openid,profile,email
OIDC_UID_FIELD=mastodonusername
OIDC_CLIENT_ID=<client id>
OIDC_CLIENT_SECRET=<client secret>
OIDC_REDIRECT_URI=https://<mastodon URL>/auth/auth/openid_connect/callback
OIDC_SECURITY_ASSUME_EMAIL_IS_VERIFIED=true

On Keycloak, I made a new realm to cover this sort of "personal" setup to be able to split the user pool and then added a Client definition for Mastodon. I set it up as "Access Type" "confidential" and grabbed the client ID and secret for the config above and then configured the Redirect URI. To get the custom username field over from LDAP, I added a "user-attribute-ldap-mapper" Mapper in the LDAP User Federation definition to bring it in. Then, back in the Client definition, I added a "User attribute" token mapper to the config to bring this in as well so it's added to the JWT.

That covered the auth config, and it's been working well since. When you have OIDC configured in your Mastodon config, it sprouts a button below the main login mechanically labeled "OPENID_CONNECT":

Screenshot of a Mastodon login form with OIDC configured

Clicking that will send you to the configured Keycloak page to do the OIDC dance and, when all goes well, back to a freshly-configured Mastodon account.

Now, technically, this doesn't really gain me much that I couldn't have gotten by configuring the users separately in the Mastodon instance, but the experience is useful. I'm gradually getting really sold on the idea of having a multi-purpose Keycloak instance to handle authentication and authorization. Most of the time, it's a thin layer over what you could get by pointing to Domino LDAP from these disparate apps themselves. However, there are some benefits in that Keycloak is now the only one that has to deal with Domino's weird LDAP and also this gives me a lot of room for fine-grained control and federation with other providers. It's just neat.

The Myriad Idioms For Finding Implementations In Java

Oct 18, 2022, 10:25 AM

Tags: jakartaee java
  1. Java Services (Not the RESTful Kind)
  2. Java ClassLoaders
  3. Managed Beans to CDI
  4. The Myriad Idioms For Finding Implementations In Java

A few years ago, I wrote a post about Java service location, which covered things like META-INF/services and OSGI extensions. Today, I'd like to discuss a similar concept: code in a top-level API that finds a specific implementation. For reasons that will become clear shortly, I'll call this the "FactoryFinder pattern".

Background

Not all Java code uses this kind of thing and, while service loading is related, the overlap isn't complete. Where this does come up a lot is in a framework like Jakarta EE, which is very intentionally split between vendor-neutral specification classes/interfaces (the ones starting with jakarta.*) and specific implementations.

For example, the Jakarta REST (née JAX-RS) specification only defines various classes and interfaces within the jakarta.ws.rs package space, but doesn't include any actual implementation. That's left to various vendors. The number of implementations varies by spec, and JAX-RS is particularly prolific on this front. In the XPages Jakarta EE project, we use RESTEasy, whose classes are all in the org.jboss.resteasy package space.

There's a (usually) hard wall between these layers: the spec declares an API that programmers can use, and then the implementation has to allow itself to be called by those class names and obey the specification's rules. When writing JAX-RS resources in an NSF, the fact that it's using RESTEasy does not enter into your experience. That raises the question, though, of how this works. How does the vendor-neutral specification locate the implementation classes to hand off the work? Well, that question has a number of different answers.

Entrypoint Classes and Locating Implementations

In general, each spec accomplishes this using one or more entrypoint classes. For example, JAX-RS uses RuntimeDelegate and its static getInstance() method to locate server implementations and ClientBuilder and its newBuilder() method to load client implementations. Outwardly, these methods just promise that they'll find and provide an implementation, but the actual way that specs do this varies.

One of the most common ways to coordinate this loading is to have a class named FactoryFinder. This idiom and specific name proved very popular over at Sun as they built up the JEE specs:

Eclipse Open Type dialog for FactoryFinder

Despite their identical names, each of these classes is a different implementation, and they have different characteristics. There are routines in common, and each spec uses a subset of these. I'll go over the common ones here, in no particular order other than that I'll start with the ones found in the JAX-RS API first.

ServiceLoader

This one is used in basically every spec up until the latest era. This uses the java.util.ServiceLoader class to find implementations by way of text files in META-INF/services named after the spec class and containing implementation class names. For example, RESTEasy contains a file named META-INF/services/jakarta.ws.rs.ext.RuntimeDelegate that references the class org.jboss.resteasy.core.providerfactory.ResteasyProviderFactoryImpl. That looks like this:

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Iterator<T> iterator = ServiceLoader.load(service, FactoryFinder.getContextClassLoader()).iterator();

if(iterator.hasNext()) {
	return iterator.next();
}

FactoryFinder.getContextClassLoader() there is a utility method that just uses an AccessController block to work with Java policy limitations like we see on Domino all the time.

This is simple enough in the normal case, but can get a little tricky when you add in something like OSGi. By default, ServiceLoader will look in the thread-context class loader, which will usually be where your application code lives. Inside an app container, like an NSF, the implementation class may not actually be visible, though. Accordingly, many of these finders fall back to looking using the class loader of the spec class, which has a higher chance of seeing the implementation. That looks similar:

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Iterator<T> iterator = ServiceLoader.load(service, FactoryFinder.class.getClassLoader()).iterator();

if(iterator.hasNext()) {
	return iterator.next();
}

In the XPages Jakarta EE project, neither of these calls will tend to work by default, since neither the app nor the API bundle won't see the implementation bundle by default. In some cases, I deal with this via the methods below, but in others I will do so by re-packaging the implementation as an OSGi fragment bundle. Fragment bundles attach themselves onto their host's classloader fully, and this allows ServiceLoader to find the implementation.

Configuration Properties

A handful of these specs, JAX-RS included, will also look for the name of an implementation class using an external properties file. The placement of this in the priority order - as a fallback after ServiceLoader - and the classes used in the implementation make me figure that these are quite often relics of earlier habits.

JAX-RS, for its part, will look within the java.home system property, which points to the JVM's installation directory. In there, it looks for a properties file named lib/jaxrs.properties:

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String javah = System.getProperty("java.home");
configFile = javah + File.separator + "lib" + File.separator + "jaxrs.properties";
File f = new File(configFile);
if (f.exists()) {
	Properties props = new Properties();
	inputStream = new FileInputStream(f);
	props.load(inputStream);
	String factoryClassName = props.getProperty(factoryId);
	return newInstance(factoryClassName, classLoader);
}

This tries to use the thread-context class loader only, so it wouldn't work for a complex app server situation. Likely, it's meant for either an older type of application or a standalone special-purpose JAR.

System Properties

Similar to reading a designated properties file, these specs will often then fall back to looking for a Java system property of a given name. These properties may be dynamically set at runtime or may be set during the JVM launch. Often, this property will be the name of the interface/abstract class being looked up, like so:

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String systemProp = System.getProperty(factoryId);
if (systemProp != null) {
	return newInstance(systemProp, classLoader);
}

This one can actually come in handy sometimes - though not ideal, I've used similar cases where I set the name of an implementation or delegation class in a property before initializing the spec. It's best to avoid that when possible, but I'm often glad it's there.

OSGi Escape

Next up is one that JAX-RS doesn't use, but shows up periodically. Though Jakarta EE isn't based around OSGi, a good number of the implementations historically have used (and still use) it, and OSGi always sits in a "not standard, but too popular to consistently ignore" limbo.

To account for this, there's a similarly semi-standard library called the OSGi resource locator. This library provides a class named org.glassfish.hk2.osgiresourcelocator.ServiceLoader that does its own search and loading for ServiceLoader-compatible META-INF/services files within OSGi bundles in the current platform. The idea is that, if you have an OSGi-based platform that you want to work with this type of loading, you will provide the Resource Locator class and let any loaders written to use it fall back to it.

Because this class is not normally present even when actually in OSGi, APIs that make use of it have to be careful and indirect about trying to load it at all. We'll use JAX-B as our example here. They'll generally try to load the bridge class reflectively, which avoids having OSGi-wrapping tools like bnd create a potentially-undesired dependency on the presence of the bridge. Then, they'll reflectively ask it to load service implementations. That tends to look like this:

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// Use reflection to avoid having any dependency on ServiceLoader class
Class serviceClass = Class.forName(factoryId);
Class target = Class.forName(OSGI_SERVICE_LOADER_CLASS_NAME);
Method m = target.getMethod(OSGI_SERVICE_LOADER_METHOD_NAME, Class.class);
Iterator iter = ((Iterable) m.invoke(null, serviceClass)).iterator();
if (iter.hasNext()) {
	Object next = iter.next();
	logger.fine("Found implementation using OSGi facility; returning object [" +
		next.getClass().getName() + "].");
	return next;
} else {
	return null;
}

That's also generally wrapped in a big try/catch block to avoid gumming up the works if any pieces are missing.

The XPages Jakarta EE project actually contains a reimplementation of this that avoids some hurdle or other that I found with the stock version. I avoided doing something like that for a while, but it ended up being the most practical way to get some of these specs working.

Default Implementation

Back outside the realm of OSGi, a handful of these specifications will also include a hard-coded default provider class name. These are generally the classes from what used to be dubbed reference implementations and which are largely components of GlassFish by virtue of that being Sun's version.

For example, the JSON-P API has a final fallback of trying to look for org.glassfish.json.JsonProviderImpl by name:

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Class<?> clazz = Class.forName(DEFAULT_PROVIDER);
return (JsonProvider) clazz.getConstructor().newInstance();

Though these implementations generally also declare themselves via ServiceLoader files, this is presumably useful in historical or edge cases where there's still a decent chance that the RI will be available. This does have an unfortunate effect on error messages, though, where the case of "I can't find any implementation at all" ends up being reported as e.g. "Provider org.glassfish.json.JsonProviderImpl not found". That's not really a problem with the approach as such, though, but rather just the way it shakes out in practice.

Manually-Set Implementation or Locator

The final mechanism I'm going to discuss is sort of a final escape hatch. Sometimes, the provider class will have a method that lets you set an arbitrary implementation yourself, without having the API do any of these lookups at all. Some, like MicroProfile Config and CDI even go one step further and provide a method that configures not just a specific implementation but rather an implementation locator. These APIs are my friends and I love them.

This mechanism works well for my needs in the XPages Jakarta EE project, where either it's easier to just set one implementation for the whole server or, like with CDI, there's complex logic that requires inspecting the active Servlet request to see what NSF I'm in.

APIs of this style will usually have a method named like setInstance or setProvider on either their core entrypoint class or on the provider locator. For example, MicroProfile Config provides the former on its ConfigProviderResolver class:

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public static void setInstance(ConfigProviderResolver resolver) {
	instance = resolver;
}

instance here is a static property. Once it's set - either by this method or by a dynamic lookup - the main instance() method will use it:

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if (instance == null) {
	synchronized (ConfigProviderResolver.class) {
		if (instance != null) {
			return instance;
		}
		instance = loadSpi(ConfigProviderResolver.class.getClassLoader());
	}
}

return instance;

The XPages JEE project makes use of this method at HTTP start, setting a provider resolver that includes some stock config sources as well as some classes that know how to read properties from the Notes environment and from the xsp.properties file.

Though this mechanism seems like the crudest out of the bunch, I'm extremely happy whenever it's there.

Conclusion

That was a lot! And there's not really a lesson to be learned here, but rather more that it's often useful to know about all these different mechanisms. When working in the XPages JEE project, I've had to use almost all of them at one time or another, and I've had to familiarize myself with which APIs use which and adapt them individually. For some, I've altered the implementation to be a fragment bundle; for others, I've created my own fragment to provide services and implementations; and so forth. It's a bit of a shame that there's no grand unified system for this, but at least it can be interesting to see the messy path that these specs have taken as Java technologies and the ecosystem evolved.

Upcoming Sessions at CollabSphere 2022

Oct 11, 2022, 2:07 PM

It's CollabSphere time again, and I'm delighted to be involved in a few sessions this time. Since I just very recently did an OpenNTF webinar covering the Jakarta EE Support project, these sessions take the form of roundtables I'm helping lead.

One is about Java generally with a tint of Jakarta specifically on Domino:

DEV103 - Java and Jakarta EE on Domino Roundtable
Wednesday at 3 PM Eastern
The story of Java on Domino can be complex, but there are tools and strategies available to keep your development maintainable and consistent with the wider world. This roundtable will focus on discussing the current array of best options for development on Domino, with a specific focus towards discussing how the XPages Jakarta EE Support project can be used to improve your development experience and the capabilities of your apps.

Another is being led by Graham Acres and Heather Hottenstein and includes me, Justin Hill, and Karsten Lehmann in a panel discussion about open-source projects in the Domino sphere:

COL119 - Community Open Source Initiatives and Contributors
Wednesday at 1 PM Eastern
The story of Java on Domino can be complex, but there are tools and strategies available to keep your development maintainable and consistent with the wider world. This roundtable will focus on discussing the current array of best options for development on Domino, with a specific focus towards discussing how the XPages Jakarta EE Support project can be used to improve your development experience and the capabilities of your apps.

There's also a companion session to that one - COL120 - on Thursday at the same time about specifically HCL's open-source initiatives.

Finally, there's OpenNTF's now-annual roundtable hosted by Graham and me:

COL107 - OpenNTF Roundtable: Have Your Say
Thursday at 12 PM Eastern
OpenNTF has been supporting the Notes and Domino community for two decades. Yes, two decades! In that time there have been volumes of projects, code, documentation and other contributions from many people in our community. Over the last few years, we have also been able to bring a number of experts to speak on a wide range of topics in our monthly webinar series. We have expanded our focus from pure development on Domino to additional topics around the wider HCL Collaboration portfolio and system administration too. Once again, we would like to hear from you. Where else can we bring value to the community? Are there webinar topics you would like to see? Are there other ways people would like to be involved?

Beyond the sessions I'm actively participating in, I noticed that this one from Graham and Heiko Voigt name-drops me in the description, so I would be remiss if I didn't mention it:

COL112 - The HCL Domino AppDev State of the Nation - 2022 Edition
Wednesday at 4 PM Eastern
The Domino AppDev landscape has changed recently with new investment from HCL in VoltMX and VoltMX Go. Domino Volt (now soon to be Domino Leap), the AppDev Pack, the Domino REST APIs, Volt MX and the Nomad Clients have added a lot of opportunities but also a lot of confusion. In the Open Source area, Jesse Gallagher build a lot of new capabilities in the Java space. And that doesn’t include investment in old friends like LotusScript. What can be used and when? What apps can I build with which part of the stack? And what about XPages? In this session, we present an overview of the dev tool ecosystem as well as some roads that seem to be stable. Whether you're a Low-Coder, pro-Coder or a CFA in the Domino AppDev World (Come From Away), we will give you a matrix to determine your way forward, be it that you are building new apps, enhancing or modernizing existing apps or migrating apps from one path to another. And we will also try to tell you what seems to be future proven and what - well, not so much.

That one's right after my earlier roundtable on Java/Jakarta and in the same track, so you should be able to just kick back and enjoy a nice Wednesday afternoon there.