Using Cargo to deploy to multiple containers

I am new to maven, but recently used it on a project that needed to deploy to two tomcat containers.  Cargo seems to be the plugin of choice, but I had a devil of a time trying to get it to deploy to two existing containers with one command.

I ended up using the ant-run plugin to just manually copy the war files where they needed to be.  This plugin usage also archives old war files and expands the new one, as well as deploying to the failover container.

Attached, you can see the relevant section of the pom.xml: cargo-deploy-two-containers

Hope this helps.

Parsing street addresses in a java application

I recently had to find a way to parse a street address into its component parts, and thought I’d share my adventure.

The idea is to take a string like “123 S Main Street” and break it apart into the street number (123), the street direction (S), the street name (Main) and the street type (Street).

At first, I thought that regular expressions would work, but the sheer variety of legal postal street addresses quickly dissuaded me, as did my boss’s misgivings.

Stackoverflow has a nice discussion of the problem, which gave me some additional pointers.  There’s a commercial solution, which is available as a COM component or a web service–I didn’t try this.  There is a free, but application/attribution required, web service provided by a university that did a great job (thanks, California tax payers).  This solution is also available in a for-pay variant.

Neither of these were desirable because we needed to parse a lot of addresses quickly, and calling out over the web can be slow.  Some more digging turned up this stack question and  JGeocoder, which has a fairly robust address parser.  It’s not perfect, but it was free and open source.  I am not sure if it is still in development (the author didn’t respond to my email) but it does what we need it to do.

As an added bonus, we’re using pentaho for the data processing, and you can call java classes directly from your data processing steps, so I didn’t even have to wrap the java call in a shell script or anything.

Turning on hibernate query caching

Sometimes I write a blog post because I want to say something to others, other times because I want to help others, and sometimes I write one for myself.  This is one of the latter type of posts.

I find that nothing drives home a lesson I learned like writing out the solution on my blog, and more than one time I’ve searched my blog because I remember I had written about a topic of current interest in the past.

If you want hibernate, a java ORM tool, to cache your query results, there’s a section in the hibernate manual. Like most of the hibernate documentation, it’s quite good.  One thing that caught me up, though, is that I thought that all queries were cached, as soon as you had set up the correct configuration in your hibernate xml files and marked your objects as cacheable.

However, this is not the case,  as I learned when I turned on the mysql query log and looked at the calls the interesting web application was making.  I did quite a bit of searching, but the answer was in the same section that told me how to set up the configuration (as well as in this forum post).

…most queries do not benefit from caching or their results. So by default, individual queries are not cached even after enabling query caching. To enable results caching for a particular query, call org.hibernate.Query.setCacheable(true).

Doh!  Following these instructions decreased the page load time for some heavy query pages from 8 seconds to 0.5 seconds (the second time the page was loaded).  Impressive indeed, though the production environment might not see such drastic improvements.

One additional note–you can use query caching for SQLQueries (like group operations) by telling hibernate what the type is of each returned value.  If you don’t use addScalar, but you do mark a SQLQuery as cacheable, you’ll get a java.lang.ArrayIndexOutOfBoundsException when that code executes.  More here.

These articles were helpful to me as I navigated Hibernate caching, above and beyond the reference documentation:

Hibernate Boolean/Integer ClassCastException

I ran into an issue the other day with Hibernate configuration.

I have a bean that maps to a table in the database.  It has a column, featured, that only has values of 0 or 1.  For legacy reasons, we map that to an integer (turning it into a boolean is on the List Of Things To Do).

I ran into an issue, and was getting this error in the logs:

Caused by: java.lang.ClassCastException: java.lang.Boolean cannot be cast to java.lang.Integer
at org.hibernate.type.IntegerType.set(
at org.hibernate.type.NullableType.nullSafeSet(
at org.hibernate.type.NullableType.nullSafeSet(
at org.hibernate.loader.Loader.bindPositionalParameters(
at org.hibernate.loader.Loader.bindParameterValues(
at org.hibernate.loader.Loader.prepareQueryStatement(
at org.hibernate.loader.Loader.doQuery(
at org.hibernate.loader.Loader.doQueryAndInitializeNonLazyCollections(
at org.hibernate.loader.Loader.doList(
at org.hibernate.loader.Loader.listIgnoreQueryCache(
at org.hibernate.loader.Loader.list(
at org.hibernate.loader.criteria.CriteriaLoader.list(
at org.hibernate.impl.SessionImpl.list(
at org.hibernate.impl.CriteriaImpl.list(

Here's the relevant section of the mapping file:

<property name="featured" type="integer" columnn="featured" />

I tried explicitly laying out the type of the SQL column:

<property name="featured" type="integer">
<column sql-type="INTEGER" name="featured" />

But neither of these worked; I received the same error.

I took a step back and looked at the bean.

Integer featured;

public Integer getFeatured() {
return featured;
public void setFeatured(Integer featured) {
this.featured = featured;


and realized that I had added a convenience method that was confusing the Hibernate code:

public boolean isFeatured() {
return ...

When I changed the signature of the convenience method to:

public boolean isFeaturedListing() {
return ...

the exception went away.  Thought I'd share for anyone searching for this stacktrace.


List of Front Range Software Networking Events and Conferences

Updated March 21: crossed out ‘conferences’ because I don’t do a good job of listing those.
Boulder, Colorado, has a great tech scene, that I’ve been a peripheral member of for a while now.  I thought I’d share a few of the places I go to network.  And by “network”, I mean learn about cool new technologies, get a feel for the state of the scene (are companies hiring?  Firing?  What technologies are in high demand?) and chat with interesting people.  All of the events below focus on software, except where noted.

NB: I have not found work through any of these events.  But if I needed work, these communities are the second place I’d look.  (The first place would be my personal network.)

Boulder Denver New Tech Meetup

  • 5 minute presentions.  Two times a month.  Audience varies wildly from hard core developers to marketing folks to graphic designers to upper level execs.  Focus is on new technologies and companies.  Arrive early, because once the presentations start, it’s hard to talk to people.
  • Good for: energy, free food, broad overviews, regular meetings, reminding you of the glory days in 1999.
  • Bad for: diving deep into a subject, expanding your technical knowledge

User groups: Boulder Java Users Group, Boulder Linux Users Group, Rocky Mountain Adobe Users Group, Denver/Boulder Drupal Users Group, Denver Java Users Group others updated 11/12 8:51: added Denver JUG

  • Typically one or two presentations each meeting, for an hour or two.  Tend to focus on a specific technology, as indicated by the names.  Sometimes food is provided.
  • Good for: diving deep into a technology, networking amongst fellow nerds, regular meetings
  • Bad for: anyone not interested in what they’re presenting that night, non technical folks

Meetups (of which BDNT, covered above, is one)

  • There’s a meetup for everything under the sun.  Well, almost.  If you’re looking to focus on a particular subject, consider starting one (not free) or joining one–typically free.
  • Good for: breadth of possibility–you want to talk about Google?  How about SecondLife?
  • Bad for: many are kind of small

Startup Drinks

  • Get together in a bar and mingle. Talk about your startups dreams or realities.
  • Good: have a beer, talk tech–what’s not to like?, takes place after working hours, casual
  • Bad: hard to target who to talk to, intermittent, takes place after working hours.


  • Originally started, I believe, in response to FooCamp, this is an unconference. On Friday attendees get together and assemble an interim conference schedule.  On Saturday, they present, in about an hour or so.  Some slots are group activities (“let’s talk about technology X”) rather than presentations.  Very free form.
  • Good: for meeting people interested in technologies, can be relatively deep introduction to a technology
  • Bad: if you need lots of structure, if you want a goodie bag from a conference, presentations can be uneven in quality, hasn’t been one in a while around here (that I know of)


  • Presentations on a variety of topics, some geeky, some not.  Presentations determined by vote.  Presentations are 20 slide and 5 minutes total.  Costs something (~$10).
  • Good: happens in several cities (Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins) so gives you chance to meet folks in your community, presentations tend to be funny, wide range of audience
  • Bad: skim surface of topic, presentation quality can vary significantly, not a lot of time to talk to people as you’re mostly watching presentations

CU Computer Science colloquia

  • Run by the CU CS department, these are technical presentations.  Usually given by a visiting PhD.
  • Good: Good to see what is coming down the pike, deep exposure to topics you might never think about (“Effective and Ubiquitous Access for Blind People”, “Optimal-Rate Routing in Adversarial Networks”)
  • Bad: The ones I’ve been to had no professionals there that I could see, happen during the middle of the work day, deep exposure to topics you might not care about


  • Cooperative work environments, hosted at a coffee shop or location.
  • Good: informal, could be plenty of time to talk to peers
  • Bad: not sure I’ve ever heard of one happening on the front range, not that different from going to your local coffee shop

Boulder Open Coffee Club

  • From the website: it “encourage entrepreneurs, developers and investors to organize real-world informal meetups”.  I don’t have enough data to give you good/bad points.

Startup Weekend

  • BarCamp with a focus–build a startup company.  With whoever shows up.
  • Good: focus, interesting people, you know they’re entrepeneurial to give a up a weekend to attend, broad cross section of skills
  • Bad: you give up a weekend to attend

Refresh Denver

  • Another group that leverages, these folks are in Denver.  Focus on web developers and designers.  Again, I don’t have enough to give good/bad points.

Except for Ignite, everything above is free or donation-based.  The paid conferences around Colorado that I know about, I’ll cover in a future post.

What am I missing?  I know the list is skewed towards Boulder–I haven’t really been to conferences more than an hours drive from Boulder.

Do you use these events as a chance to network?  Catch up with friends?  Learn about new technologies, processes and companies?

New Release of GWT Crypto Library

I just released a new version of gwt-crypto.  You can download it here.  While encryption in javascript has its limits, it also has its place.  Currently, I am using it for some data (lat/lng) that we want to be obscured, but is not top secret.

If you’re using this library, please let me know what you’ve found it useful for.
Overall, this has been a fun experience.  I’ve learned at least the basics of maven, had some interaction with users and written tests for bugs they file.  (I got involved in this project earlier this summer, because I contacted the maintainer.)
[tags]encryption, tripledes, gwt,open source[/tags]

Article about using hibernate with GWT

I just read this article about the Google Web Toolkit and hibernate, and I’m thrilled that someone wrote this. A few years ago, when I was just starting to use GWT and hibernate, the ORM tool, I thought about writing something similar myself. I could never get over the hump of writing about setting up all the infrastructure necessary, something which the author does quite nicely.

I think this article gives a great overview of some of the complexities of using hibernate with the GWT client. The author essentially talks about three possible solutions to the primary problem when using hibernate objects in a GWT system: hibernate enhances your POJO code, and thus you cannot send objects returned from hibernate queries down the wire to the JavaScript client.  The JRE emulation simply can’t handle it.

I especially enjoyed the explanations of how to use some of the tools, to make mapping between GWT capable objects and hibernate objects easier. I’d heard of hibernate4gwt, now Gilead, but never used it. For most of my RPC calls, I end up using the first approach the author explores, custom DTO creation. Often times, I won’t create a special DTO object, but rather reuse the POJO that represents the domain object. This way, you can scrub subsidiary objects (though you lose lazy loading when you do this) and send those down as well.  As long as the POJO doesn’t have too many extraneous members, this seems to work fine, and removes the need for an extra class.

I was a bit frustrated, however, that the author ignored the delete case. This seems like a situation where tools like Gilead might really shine. I have often run into issues where I have to add a ‘deleted’ boolean flag to the hibernate object.  I do this because when an object gets deleted from a collection on the GWT side, my server-side code has no way of knowing this, without some additional complexity (rerunning the query and doing a comparison of results). Adding such a ‘deleted’ boolean flag, solves one set of problems, but raises additional complexity, because you end up having to check to see whether or not an object exists before you try to insert it in the database.

For example, imagine you have a user with set of CDs, which you display in a grid.  If you want to allow a user to correct the name of one of the CDs, and send it back, the server side has the modified record, hopefully with and ID, and can simply save it.  But if you delete one of the CDs from the collection, the server side does not have the modified object, and so has to figure out which one to delete.  Gilead, with its knowledge of the object graph, seems at first glance like it could solve this problem elegantly (a quick search on the Gilead site shows nothing that I could see).

Also note that, using RPC is fantastic for GWT applications, but if you think about using GWT for widgets, I would suggest using something that gives you a bit more flexibility like JSONP. Because GWT RPC depends on XMLHTTPRequest, it is fundamentally limited to sites where the JavaScript and RPC services are on the same host.  Obviously, since using JSONP serializes hibernate objects to strings, none of these tools are appropriate.  (See my survey of Google Web Toolkit client-server communication strategies for more.)

All that said, if you’re thinking about using hibernate and GWT in the same project, reading this paper and running through the examples will be a worthwhile use of your time.

[tags]hibernate,gwt,useful articles[/tags]

GWT and complex javascript overlays

I remember hearing about javascript overlays and the Google Web Toolkit at the 2008 Google I/O conference, so when I had a chance to use them for a complicated JSON dataset, I thought it would be a good fit.  I use JSON in a number of widgets around a client’s site, mostly because it is the easiest way to have a client be cross site compatible (using JSONP for server communication), the data ranges in size from 13K to 87K.

But as I looked for examples, I didn’t see a whole lot.  There is, of course, the canonical blog post about javascript overlays, but other than that, there’s not much out there.  I searched the gwt google group, but didn’t see anything about complex javascript overlays.

Perhaps I should define what I mean by complex javascript overlays.  I mean JSON objects that have embedded objects and arrays; something like this: var jsonData = [{"id":52,"display":{"desc":"TV","price":125},"store":[1,2,3,4,5]}, {"id":2,"display":{"desc":"VCR","price":25},"store":[1,2,5]}];

The key is to realize that just as you can return a string from a native method, like the canonical blog post does: public final native String getFirstName() /*-{ return this.FirstName; }-*/;, you can also return any other javascript object, including arrays (helpfully available as the JsArray class).  So, for the above JSON example, I have a Display class that looks like this:

package com.mooreds.complexoverlay.client;

public class Display extends JavaScriptObject {
protected Display() {}
public final native String getDesc()/*-{ return this.desc;}-*/;
public final native int getPrice()/*-{ return this.price;}-*/;

Code for the array ("store") looks like this:

package com.mooreds.complexoverlay.client;

public class StoreList extends JsArrayInteger{
protected StoreList() {}


Running code that shows you how to parse and display the entire json string is here (using GWT 1.6.4) is available in this tarball.  I haven't yet tried it, but I imagine that it would be pretty easy a JSONP call work in a similar manner to the HTML embedded JSON in this example.

Update June 29: Note that if you want to use any overlay types in collections, that JavaScriptObject, which you must inherit from, has final hashCode and equals methods.  The hashCode method "uses a monotonically increasing counter to assign a hash code to the underlying JavaScript object" and the equals method "returns true if the objects are JavaScript identical (triple-equals)".  Both of these may cause issues with collections such as maps.
[tags]gwt, javascript overlays, google web toolkit, is anyone still using technorati?[/tags]

Setting headers in a PHP include directive

I am currently working on a project that uses a PHP CMS for the bulk of the site. However, it pulls some content from a page generated by JSTL on a tomcat. I was using the fmt tag to do some pretty printing of numbers, and it looked fine when I viewed the content as served by tomcat. However, none of the formatting was carrying through when the PHP page included the jsp. Why? It appears that the fmt tag needs a locale. I confirmed that with wget.

Now, how to set the header with the PHP include. The include man page was no help, and mod_rewrite won’t let you modify headers, as far as I can tell. Once the request arrived to tomcat, that was too late.

Some digging around in the PHP documentation on fopen turned up this gem:

Custom headers may be sent with an HTTP request prior to version 5 by taking advantage of a side-effect in the handling of the user_agent INI setting. Set user_agent to any valid string (such as the default PHP/version setting) followed by a carriage-return/line-feed pair and any additional headers. This method works in PHP 4 and all later versions.

Click through for a code example. The aforementioned documentation talks about custom headers, but it worked for sending the Accept-Language header that the fmt tags needed.

JSTL 1.2 and “Provider org.apache.xerces.jaxp.SAXParserFactoryImpl not found” exception

I am using JSTL for a project. For such a standard, it’s a bit wierd to get started with. Sun provides a spec, but as far as I can see, you have to download the entire J2EE stack to get the jarfile. There’s not a lot of good documentation on getting started with it (this page, though dated and focusing on JSTL 1.0 and 1.1, was helpful).

One exception in particular dogged me. If you are trying to get started using Tomcat (my version is 6.0) and JSTL, and are getting this exception when you are using the JSTL tags, run, don’t walk to your nearest Xerces download center and place xercesImpl.jar, in your lib directory (I also needed Xalan, for JSTL 1.2, which I had to download from here):

HTTP Status 500 -

type Exception report message description The server encountered an internal error () that prevented it from fulfilling this request. exception
javax.servlet.ServletException: javax.xml.parsers.FactoryConfigurationError: Provider org.apache.xerces.jaxp.SAXParserFactoryImpl not found

root cause

javax.xml.parsers.FactoryConfigurationError: Provider org.apache.xerces.jaxp.SAXParserFactoryImpl not found
javax.xml.parsers.SAXParserFactory.newInstance(Unknown Source)

note The full stack trace of the root cause is available in the Apache Tomcat/6.0.14 logs.

Apache Tomcat/6.0.14

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