Tag Archives: Java

Simple form validation in Wicket

I used to add custom FormValidators to forms where multi-field validation was required (like checking if two copies of an entered password match.

However, this approach has some problems – I had to list the dependent components and if some of them were hidden at validation time, the validator didn’t work.

Reading around, I saw the recommendation to use the onValidate() method of the form to do validation and this seems a lot more straightforward.

Here’s a sample wicket form with some validation logic to check if the current password matches and if the two copies of the new password are the same.

final Form form = new Form("form", new CompoundPropertyModel(user)) {
	private static final long serialVersionUID = 1L;

	@Override
	protected void onValidate() {
		super.onValidate();

		User user = model.getObject();
		String current_password_entered = currentPasswordField.getConvertedInput();
		String new_password_entered = newPasswordField.getConvertedInput();
		String confirm_new_password_entered = confirmNewPasswordField.getConvertedInput();

		if (current_password_entered != null
		&& !User.encryptPassword(current_password_entered).equals(user.getPassword()))
			error(getString("current_password_not_correct"));

		if (new_password_entered != null && !new_password_entered.isEmpty()) {
			if (new_password_entered.equals(current_password_entered)) {
				error(getString("new_password_same_as_current_password"));
			} else {
				if (!new_password_entered.equals(confirm_new_password_entered))
					error(getString("new_passwords_dont_match"));
			}
		}
	}
};
add(form);

Clustering wicket apps

After fooling around with other methods, we finally accepted the advice I got on the Wicket IRC channel and used Terracotta to cluster our Wicket-based apps running under Jetty. It turned out to be straightforward to implement.

The first thing to do was to add the Terracotta dependencies to our pom.xml.

<dependency>
	<groupId>org.terracotta.session</groupId>
	<artifactId>terracotta-session</artifactId>
	<version>1.1.1</version>
</dependency>

<dependency>
	<groupId>org.terracotta</groupId>
	<artifactId>terracotta-toolkit-1.1-runtime</artifactId>
	<version>2.0.0</version>
</dependency>

Then you just need to add a Terracotta filter to the jetty WebAppContext as follows:

FilterHolder tcFilterHolder = new FilterHolder(TerracottaJetty61xSessionFilter.class);
tcFilterHolder.setInitParameter("tcConfigUrl", "terracotta:9510,terracotta2:9510");
context.addFilter(tcFilterHolder, "/*", Handler.ALL);

That’s it. Terracotta will cluster the session (in the example we’re using two terracotta servers called “terracotta” and “terracotta2” – a main server and a standby).

We’re using a HAProxy load-balancer with session affinity to load-balance and failover the wicket apps. Note that we are only clustering the session and not the Wicket PageMapStore. This means that if the app fails over, the browser back-button will not work correctly after a failover. Since failover should only occur rarely, if ever, we don’t see the need to cluster the PageMapStore (although this is not hard either) and incur the network cost of replicating the PageMapStore.

Hazelcast distributed locks for easy fault tolerance

Hazelcast (hazelcast.com) provides an easy way to implement distributed locking to allow your applications to run multiple, fault-tolerant instances without worrying about issues related concurrent access to shared resources (like files, databases or whatever).

try {
	java.util.concurrent.locks.Lock lock = Hazelcast.getLock("mylock");
	while (true) {
		lock.lock();
		try {
			// do some work involving access to shared resources
		} finally {
			lock.unlock();
		}
	}
} finally {
	Hazelcast.shutdown();
}

We have an SMS server which retrieved mail messages from a POP3 mailbox, entered them to a database and then delivered via the Clickatell messaging gateway. Making it run multiple instances concurrently would have been a headache since it would involve various issues relating to transactions across the POP3 and the Clickatell interfaces. It was a whole lot easier to wrap the business logic with a hazelcast lock and let it run on two servers. The beauty of hazelcast is that it just works – since the default configuration uses multicast to detect other members of the cluster, there’s no additional infrastructure – just add the jar to your application and off you go. We might still implement Zookeeper or Terracotta in future, but both of them require more infrastructure (i.e. dedicated (virtual) servers) and configuration.
Postscript: I had occasional hangs with Hazelcast 1.8.4 which caused me to switch to Zookeeper. As expected, Zookeeper was a lot harder to use than Hazelcast – you need Zookeeper installed on 3 servers. There’s no official java client, just some recipes and I found an implementation of Zookeeper locks called Cages on google code. For a java developer, Hazelcast is obviously way easier to use. Anyway, after upgrading to Hazelcast version 1.8.5, the hang problem went away so I happily went back to using Hazelcast. We’re also now using the distributed queues – works great so far.

Adding scripting to java applications

Many of our applications require scripting support (allowing users to create scripts to customize workflow within the application). Java provides very straightforward scripting via the┬ájavax.script script-engine library. A simple integration is shown below where a Javascript onSave method provided by the user is called, if available, passing a business-logic object “item”:

import javax.script.Invocable;
import javax.script.ScriptEngine;
import javax.script.ScriptEngineManager;
import javax.script.ScriptException;

public class Scripting extends Base {
 private ScriptEngineManager mgr;
 private ScriptEngine engine;
 private Invocable invocable;

 private boolean initialize (String script) {
  mgr = new ScriptEngineManager();
  engine = mgr.getEngineByName("js");
  try {
   engine.eval(script);
  } catch (ScriptException e) {
   warn("The script could not be loaded: " + e.getMessage());
   return false;
  }
  invocable = (Invocable)engine;
  return true;
 }

 public void onSave(Item item) {
  try {
   invocable.invokeFunction("onSave", item);
  } catch (ScriptException e) {
   warn("The onSave method of the script caused an error: " + e.getMessage());
  } catch (NoSuchMethodException e) {
   // no onSave method provided by the user - that's OK, just ignore it
  }
 }
}

Note: the javax.script library supports multiple scripting engines including javascript, python, groovy and java. Javascript was the easiest to get working because the Rhino Javascript engine is included in JDK 6.