Rapid Progress in Open-Liberty-Runtime Land

Mar 16, 2021, 6:07 PM

Tags: liberty
  1. Options for the Future of the Domino Open Liberty Runtime
  2. Next Steps With the Open Liberty Runtime
  3. Rapid Progress in Open-Liberty-Runtime Land

After my work implementing a reverse proxy the other day, my mental gears kept churning, and I've made some great progress on some new ideas and some ones I had had kicking around for a while.

Domino-Hosted Reverse Proxy

In my last post, I described the new auto-configuring reverse proxy I added, which uses Undertow on a separate port, supporting HTTP/2 and WebSocket. This gives you a unified layout that points to your configured webapps first and then, for all other URLs, points to Domino.

After that, though, I realized that there'd be some convenience value in doing that kind of thing in Domino's HTTP stack itself. The HttpService classes that hook into the XspCmdManager class are designed for just this sort of purpose: listen for designated URLs and handle them in a custom way. I realized that I could watch for incoming requests in the webapps' context roots and direct to them from Domino itself. So that's just what I did. When enabled, you can go to a URL for a configured webapp path (say, "/exampleapp") right on Domino's HTTP/HTTPS port like normal and it'll proxy transparently to the backing app. Better still, it picks up on the mechanisms that Liberty provides to work with X-Forwarded-* headers and $WS* headers to pass along incoming request information and authenticated-user context.

The way I'm describing this may sound a bit dry and abstract, but I think this has a lot of potential, at least when you don't need HTTP/2. With this setup, you can attach fully-modern WAR files in an NSF, configure a server with the very latest Java server technologies and any Java version of your choosing, and have it appear like any other web app on Domino. /foo.nsf goes to your NSF, /fancyapp goes to a modern Java app. Proper webapps, no OSGi dependency nightmare, no Domino-toolchain miasma (well, less of one), deployed seamlessly via NSF - I think it's pretty neat.

Mix-and-Match Runtimes and Java Versions

Historically, the project has had a single configuration document where you specify the version of Open Liberty and your Java version and flavor of choice for all configured apps. Now, though, I've added the ability to pick those on a per-server basis. This can come in handy if you want to use Java 11 (the current LTS version) for complicated apps, but try out the just-released Java 16 for a new app.

Progress on Genericizing the Tooling

Though the project is named after Open Liberty, there's not really anything about the concept that's specific to Liberty as such. Liberty is extremely good and it's particularly well-suited to this purpose, but there's no reason I couldn't adapt this to run any app server, or really any generic process.

Actually supporting anything else is a big task - every server or task would have its own concept of what an "app" is, how configuration is done, how to monitor logs, how to identify open ports, etc. - but the first step is to at least lay the groundwork. So that I did: I've embarked on the path of separating the core runtime loop (start/stop/restart/refresh/etc.) from the specifics of Liberty.

There's still tons of work to do there, and I'm not fully convinced that it'd be worth it (since you should really be writing Java webapps anyway), but that potential future path is smoother now.


I think this is getting close to the point where it'll be a proper 3.0 release, and it's also getting to a point where the "why is this good?" pitch should be an easier sell for people who aren't already me. I still have vague plans to do a video or webcast on this, and this should make for a less-arcane time of that. So, we'll see! In the mean time, this should all make my own uses all the better.

Commenter Photo

Jesper Kaier - Mar 17, 2021, 6:29 AM

Sounds cool! looking forward to webcast!

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