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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.