Showing posts for tag "headless-designer"

Including a Headless DDE Build in a Maven Tree

Mar 14, 2017, 12:45 PM

Most of my Domino projects nowadays have two components: a suite of OSGi plugins/features and at least one NSF. Historically, I've kept the NSF part separate from the OSGi plugin projects - I'll keep the ODP in the repo, but then usually also keep a recent "build" made by copying the database from my dev server, and then include that built version in the result using the Maven Assembly plugin. This works, but it's not quite ideal: part of the benefit of having a Maven project being automatically built is that I can have a consistent, neutral environment doing the compilation, without reliance on my local Designer. Fortunately, Designer has a "headless" mode to build NSFs in a scripted way, and Christian Güdemann has done the legwork of building that into a Maven plugin.

It should come as no surprise, however, that this is a fiddly process, and I ran into a couple subtle problems when configuring my build.

Setting Up Designer

The first step is to tell Designer that you want to allow this use, which is done by setting DESIGNER_AUTO_ENABLED=true in your notes.ini. The second step is to configure Notes to use an ID file with no password: because Designer is going to be launched and quit automatically several times, you can't just leave it running and have it use an open session. This is a perfect opportunity to spin up a "template" ID file, distinct from your developer ID, if you haven't do so already. Also, uh... make sure that this user has at least Designer rights to the NSF it's constructing. I ran into a bit of logical trouble with that at first.

The last step was something I didn't realize until late: keep your Designer installation clean of the plugins you're going to be auto-installing. Ideally, Designer will be essentially a fresh install, with no plugins added, and then the Maven definition will list and install all dependencies. If it's not clean, you may run into trouble where Designer emits errors about the plugin conflicting with the installed version.

Setting Up The Maven Environment

Before getting to the actual Maven project files, there's some machine-specific information to set, which is best done with properties in your ~/.m2/settings.xml, much like the notes-platform and notes-program properties. In keeping with that convention, I named them as such:

	<notes-program>C:\Program Files (x86)\IBM\Notes</notes-program>
	<notes-designer>C:\Program Files (x86)\IBM\Notes\designer.exe</notes-designer>
	<notes-data>C:\Program Files (x86)\IBM\Notes\Data</notes-data>

Deploying Features And Initial Root Project Config

The first came in setting up the automatic deployment of the feature. The Maven plugin lets you specify features that you want added to and then removed from your Designer installation. In this case, the feature and update site are within the same Maven tree being built, which adds a wrinkle or two.

The first is that, since the specific version number of the feature changes every build due to the qualifier, I had to set up the root project to export the qualifier value that Tycho plans to use. This is done using the tycho-packaging-plugin, which a standard Maven project will have loaded in the root project pom. The main change is to explicitly tell it to run the build-qualifier goal early on, which has the side effect of contributing a couple properties to the rest of the build:


	<!-- Contribute the "buildQualifier" property to the environment -->

Once that's running, we'll have the ${qualifiedVersion} property to use down the line to house the actual version made during the build.

The second hurdle is figuring out the URL to use to point to the update site. I did this with a property in the root project pom, alongside setting to properties used by the Headless Designer plugin:

	<!-- snip -->
	<!-- Headless Designer properties -->

Much like with OSGi dependency repositories, this path is recomputed per-project. The NSF projects are housed within an nsf folder in my tree, so I include the ../.. to move up to the root project, before descending back down into the update site. Note that this requires that the update site project be built earlier in the build than the NSF.

Finally, bringing these together, I added a block for the common settings for the plugin to the pluginManagement section of the root project pom:


Configuring The NSF Project

With most aspects configured higher up in the project tree, the actual NSF project pom is fairly slim:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
	xmlns="" xmlns:xsi="">

The properties block sets two more properties automatically read by the Headless Designer Maven plugin. In this case, the path is an artifact of the history of the Git repository: since the ODP was added to the repo outside of the Maven tree, the path backs up and out of the whole thing, and then to another folder with a confusingly-similar name. In this case, it avoids a lot of developer hassle, but a properly-configured project have the ODP in a subfolder within the Maven project (maybe src/main/odp if you want to be all idiomatic about it).

Note that the ddehd.targetdbname property is the NSF name used both for the intermediate build NSF (which is in the Notes data directory) and for the destination file in the project's target directory, so make sure it doesn't conflict with any existing DBs.

Bringing It All Together

Once you have the NSF built, you can include it in an Assembly down the line, leading to a nicely-packaged update site + NSF pair. This section is something of an "IOU" at the moment, though - I have an idea for how I want to do this, but I haven't actually implemented it yet. Once I do, I'll write a followup post.

In the mean time, having a build server build the NSF can be a useful check on manking sure everything is working correctly, and is a perfect stepping-stone towards a complete solution. Ideally, in addition to packaging up the result, a full system would also deploy the NSF and plugins to a Domino server and run some UI/service tests against it. However, that's a whole ball of wax that I haven't touched on myself (and is also likely prohibitive for licensing reasons in most cases anyway). For now, it's a step in the right direction.