Sunday Oct 07, 2007

Server side Internationalization made easy

Last year I wrote a blog entry on my gripes with Internationalization in Java for server side components. Sometime in January I built a few utilities for JMSJCA that makes internationalization for server side components a lot easier. To make it available to a larger audience, I added the utilities to the tools collection on What do these utilities do?

Generating resource bundles automatically

The whole point was that when writing Java code, I would like to keep internationalizable texts close to my Java code. Rather than in resource bundles, I prefer to keep texts in my Java code so that:

  1. While coding, you don't need to keep switching between a Java file and a resource bundle.
  2. No more missing messages because of typos in error identifiers; no more obsolete messages in resource bundles
  3. You can easily review code to make sure that error messages make sense in the context in which they appear, and you can easily check that the arguments for the error messages indeed match.

In stead of writing code like this:

        sLog.log(Level.WARNING, "e_no_match_w_pattern", new Object[] { dir, pattern, ex}, ex);

Prefer code like this:

        sLog.log(Level.WARNING, sLoc.t("E131: Could not find files with pattern {1} in directory {0}: {2}"
dir, pattern, ex), ex);

Here's a complete example:

public class X {
    Logger sLog = Logger.getLogger(X.class.getName());
    Localizer sLoc = Localizer.get();
    public void test() {
        sLog.log(Level.WARNING, sLoc.t("E131: Could not find files with pattern {1} in directory {0}: {2}"
dir, pattern, ex), ex);

Hulp has an Ant task that goes over the generated classes and extracts these phrases and writes them to a resource bundle. E.g. the above code results in this resource bundle:

TEST-E131 = Could not find files with pattern {1} in directory {0}\\: {2}

To use the Ant task, add something like this to your Ant script, typically between <javac> and <jar>:

<taskdef name="i18n" classname="" classpath="lib/"/>
<i18n dir="${build.dir}/classes" file="src/net/java/hulp/i18ntest/" prefix="TEST" />

How does the Ant task know what strings should be copied into the resource bundle? It uses a regular expression for that. By default it looks for strings that start with a single alpha character, followed by three digits followed by a colon, which is this regular expression: [A-Z]\\d\\d\\d: .\*.

Getting messages out of resource bundles

With the full English message in the Java code, how is the proper localized message obtained? In the code above, this is done in this statement:

sLoc.t("E131: Could not find files with pattern {1} in directory {0}: {2}", dir, pattern, ex)

The method t takes the string, extracts the message ID out of it (E131) and uses the message ID plus prefix (TEST) to lookup the message in the right resource bundle, and returns the substituted text. The method t lives in class Localizer. This is a class that needs to be declared in the package where the resource bundles are placed. The class derives from E.g.:

public static class Localizer extends {
    public Localizer() {
    private static final Localizer s = new Localizer();
    public static Localizer get() {
        return s;

The class name should be Localizer so that the Ant task can be extended later to automatically detect which packages use which resource bundles.

Using the compiler to enforce internationalized code

It would be nice if the compiler could force internationalized messages to be used. To do that, Hulp includes a wrapper around java.util.logging.Logger that only takes objects of class LocalizedString instead of just String. The class LocalizedString is a simple wrapper around String. The Localizer class produces these strings. By avoiding using java.util.logging.Logger directly, and instead using the compiler will force you to use internationalized texts. Here's a full example:

public class X { sLog = Logger.getLogger(X.class);
    Localizer sLoc = Localizer.get();
    public void test() {
        sLog.warn(sLoc.x("E131: Could not find files with pattern {1} in directory {0}: {2}"
dir, pattern, ex), ex);

Logging is one area that requires internationalization, another is exceptions. Unfortunately there's no general approach to force internationalized messages in exceptions. You can only do that if you define your own exception class that takes the LocalizedString in the constructor, or define a separate exception factory that takes this string class in the factory method.


Go to to download these utilities. The jars (the Ant task and utilities) are also hosted on the Maven repository on

Sunday Sep 30, 2007

Using Nested Diagnostics Contexts in Glassfish

What is a Nested Diagnostics Context?

Let's say that we're writing a message driven bean (MDB) that we'll deploy on Glassfish. Let's say that the MDB's onMessage() method grabs the payload of the message and calls into a stateless session bean (SLSB) for processing. Let's say that the implementation of the SLSB calls into org.apache.xparser: > > org.apache.xparser

Let's say that he xparser package may log some warnings if the payload is not properly formatted. No problem so far. Now let's say that the application is put in production together with a dozen other applications and that many of these applications use this library. The administrator once in a while finds these warnings in Glassfish's server.log:

    |_ThreadID=18; ThreadName=ConsumerMessageQueue:(1);
    |Encoding missing, assuming UTF-8|#]

Let's say that the administrator wants to relay this information to the developer responsible for this application. Using the category name org.apache.xparser.Parser, the administrator can find out what code is responsible (a third party component in this case), but how can the administrator find out which application is responsible for this log output?

One approach is to always log the application name before calling into the SLSB, so that the administrator can find the application name using the _ThreadID: he would look at the _ThreadID of the warning, then look for a message earlier in the log that has the same _ThreadID that identifies the application. Not only is this cumbersome, it's also a big problem that the application now fills up the log with the application name just in case the SLSB would log something.

It would be nice if somehow the MDB could associate the thread with the application name, so that if code downstream logs anything, the log message will be adorned with the application name:

    |_ThreadID=18; Context=Payrollsync; ThreadName=ConsumerMessageQueue:(1);
    |Encoding missing, assuming UTF-8|#]

In Log4J, this is quite simple using Log4J's NDC class: before the MDB calls into the SLSB, it would call NDC.push("Payrollsync") to push the context onto the stack, and after the SLSB it would call NDC.pop(). NDC stands for Nested Diagnostic Context. It's called nested because it maintains a stack, so that the SLSB could push another context onto the stack, hiding the context of the MDB, and pop the context off the stack to restore the stack in its original state before returning. Of course each thread has to have its own stack.

The NDC is a nice facility in Log4J. Unfortunately, in java.util.logging there's no such facility. Let's build one!

Building a Nested Diagnostic Context

The Nested Diagnostics Context will have to keep a stack per thread. When the logging mechanism logs something, it needs to peek at the stack and add the top most item on the stack to the log message. The stack needs to be accessible somehow by both the application that sets the context and by the logging mechanism. A complicating factor in this is that it needs to work with both delegating-first and self-first classloaders. The latter is found in some web applications (special setting in sun-web.xml) and in some JBI components. Furthermore, we would like to use this mechanism in Glassfish and avoid having to make changes to the Glassfish codebase. Lastly, we need to avoid making changes to the application that would cause the application to be no longer portable to other application servers.

How do we expose an API to the application so that it can push and pop contexts onto and off the stack? We could define a new Java API, but that would mean that unless an application packages the jar with that new API, it cannot be deployed on an application server instance that doesn't have the NDC code in its classpath. Here's a solution that doesn't require a new API: reuse the existing java.util.logging.Logger API! We'll define two special logger names, one for pushing contexts onto the stack, and one for popping contexts off the stack. Since we're tapping into the log stream anyways, this is not as far a stretch as it may seem. Here's how an application uses this mechanism:

The loggers com.sun.EnterContext and com.sun.ExitContext are special loggers that we'll develop; messages written to these loggers directly interact with the context stack. Through these special loggers, this example will result in adding the context to any log messages that are produced in the slsb.process(msg) call. On other application servers without these special loggers, this will result in logging the context at FINE level before and after the call to the SLSB is made, so that one can associate a log message using the _ThreadID; it will not do anything if FINE logging is turned off.

What if we want to add more than one context parameter to the log message? For instance, what if we want to add the ID of the message that we're processing?

    .log(Level.FINE, {0}={1}, {2}={3}, new Object[] {"Application", "Payrollsync", "Msgid", msg.getMessageID()});
Logger.getLogger("com.sun.ExitContext") .log(Level.FINE, {0}={1}, {2}={3}, new Object[] {"Application", "Payrollsync", "Msgid", msg.getMessageID()});

The special logger will take the Object[] and push these on the stack. The message string "{0}={1}, {2}={3}" is there merely for portability: if the the code is deployed onto an application server to which we didn't install the NDC facilities, this will simply log the context parameters at FINE level.


In a stand alone Java application, you would simply set your own LogManager and implement the NDC functionality there. Glassfish already comes with its own LogManager, and we don't want to override that. Rather, we want to plug in new functionality without any changes to the existing code base. Here's what we need to do:
  1. create the special loggers com.sun.EnterContext and com.sun.ExitContext
  2. hookup these special loggers
  3. hook into the log stream to print out the context

To create the special loggers, we can simply create a new class that derives from java.util.logging.Logger, say EntryLogger. Next, we need to make sure that when someone calls Logger.getLogger("com.sun.EnterContext"), it will be this class that is returned. Without making any changes to the LogManager, the way that that can be accomplished is by instantiating the new EntryLogger and registering it with the LogManager immediately. This has to be done before anybody calls Logger.getLogger("com.sun.EnterContext"). In other words, we should do this before any application starts. In Glassfish there's an extensibility mechanism called LifeCycleListeners. An object that implements this interface can be loaded by Glassfish automatically upon startup.

Lastly, we need to find a way to add the context to the log entries in the log. Glassfish already has a mechanism to add key-value pairs to each log entry: when formatting a LogRecord for printing, Glassfish calls LogRecord.getParameters() and checks each object in the returned Object[] for objects that implement java.util.Map and java.util.Collection. For objects that implement java.util.Map, Glassfish adds the key-value pairs to the log message. For objects that implement java.util.Collection, Glassfish adds each entry as a String to the log message.

If each LogRecord can somehow be intercepted before it reaches Glassfish's Formatter, the context can be added as an extra parameter to the LogRecord's parameter list. This can be done by adding a new java.util.logging.Handler to the root-Logger before Glassfish's own Handler. For each LogRecord that this new Handler receives, it will inspect the Context stack and add a Map with the Context to the LogRecord. Next, the root-Logger will send the LogRecord to Glassfish's own Handler which takes care of printing the message into the log. Once again, the LifeCycleListener is the ideal place to register the new Handler.

Give it a spin!

You can download the jar that has these new classes and/or download the sources. Put the jar in Glassfish's lib directory. Restart the server and install the LifeCycleListener:

LifeCycleListener Configuration

Tuesday May 15, 2007

JavaOne 2007

All of last week I was at JavaOne. It was an exhausting but very interesting week. Like last year, there were many interesting sessions, too many to list them here. Let me just mention the one I enjoyed most was the one by Neal Gafter on Closures for the Java Programming Language (BOF-2358). I can't wait until they're in the Java language!

Not only did I attend sessions and BOFs, I also presented BOFs. Three of them to be precise. I recorded the audio on my MP3 player. Unfortunately the quality of the audio is pretty bad. I'm posting the audio recordings below. I'm also posting the slides. Here they are:

BOF8847: Developing Components for Java Business Integration: Binding Components and Service Engines

Presented by Frank Kieviet, Alex Fung, Sherry Weng, and Srinivasan Chikkala
Attendance: about 100

You cannot cover how to write JBI components in just 45 minutes. We were also not sure about what the audience was interested in. That's why we assumed that the audience would consist mostly of people who have never written a JBI component before, and are relatively new to JBI. That's why we decided to talk mostly about general information on JBI and JBI components, and highlight the power of JBI and discuss how to go about developing one.

As an experiment I wanted to try a new format (at least new for me): rather than slicing up the session into four parts of 10 minutes, we cast the session into a "discussion forum". Of course the questions and answers (and even the jokes) were well rehearsed.

Unfortunately, the audio/visual people that control the meeting rooms, had forgotten to start the session timer. As a result the audio was cut unexpectedly just a minute before we could finish up.

Nevertheless, I think it was an interesting session.

Presentation JavaOne07-BOF8847 (pdf)

Audio JavaOne07-BOF8847 (mp3)

BOF8745: Leveraging Java EE in JBI and vice versa

Presented by Frank Kieviet and Bhavanishankara Sapaliga
Attendance: about 60

This BOF was originally to be presented by Vikas Awasthi and Bhavanishankara Sapaliga, but Vikas couldn't make it, so I replaced him. We focused the session on how JBI and EE can play together, trying to make it interesting for both JBI application developers as well as for EE developers. At the end I ran a demo with NetBeans showing three different scenarios. The demo-gods were with me: the demo went very smoothly. Unfortunately I forgot to demo how to add an EJB to a composite application. Another valuable lesson learned.

Presentation JavaOne07-BOF8745 (pdf)

Audio JavaOne07-BOF8745 (mp3)

BOF9982: The java.lang.OutOfMemoryError: PermGen Space error demystified

Presented by Edward Chou and Frank Kieviet
Attendance: about 116

This session was on Thursday night at 10pm. That night was the JavaOne After dark bash. Free beers, music and snacks for everyone. Therefore we didn't expect much of an attendance: memory leaks are a rather dry subject, and why leave the party early to go to this session? Also, some of our thunder had been stolen by SAP who demo-ed a tool to track memory leaks in a morning-session earlier that week. So we were quite surprised when about 116 people turned up for our session. Most stayed until the very end, and there were also quite a few interesting questions. Apparently a lot of people struggle with memory leaks in permgen space -- in my presentation I mention that I get about a hundred hits on my blog every day from people who search for this memory exception in Google.

Presentation JavaOne07-BOF9982 (pdf)

Audio JavaOne07-BOF9982 (mp3)

Wednesday May 02, 2007

JavaOne / memory leaks revisited...

Memory leaks in print 

A few months ago, Gregg Sporar together with A. Sundararajan started an article on memory leaks in the magazine Software Test & Performance. While writing that, he stumbled upon my blog and decided to cover the "java.lang.OutOfMemoryError: PermGen space" exception too. I offered to collaborate on the article. The article eventually grew so much it was split in two. Part one was published a month ago. Yesterday, part two was published.

Memory leaks at JavaOne

Edward Chou submitted a proposal for a BOF at JavaOne 2007. He and I will be presenting a BOF on the "java.lang.OutOfMemoryError: PermGen space" exception. I'll try to record the session with my MP3 player and post it on my blog.

In preparation for our presentation, we've been looking at some real-life examples of permgen memory leaks. We took a few memory dumps that came from actual customers in actual production environments. We discovered a few more improvements we could make to jhat: it was already fairly simple to track the leaks with jhat; with these changes it becomes really simple. We were actually quite surprised how simple. More on that in a future entry, either on my blog or on Edward's.

More at JavaOne

Speaking about JavaOne... I have my hands full. Next to the memory leaks BOF, I'm also presenting a BOF on JBI ("How to develop JBI components") and I'll be co-presenting another BOF on "EE and JBI."

Sunday Feb 04, 2007

Using Resource Adapters outside of EE containers

Java EE (J2EE) application servers usually are the ideal choice to host your back-end applications, especially if your applications require transactions, security or state management. Running in an application server, your application can easily connect to external systems provided by Resource Adapters. E.g. if your application would have to connect to a CRM (e.g. PeopleSoft), to an ERP (e.g. SAP) or to a system such as JMS, or even to a database (e.g. Oracle), it would use a Resource Adapter. Through this, the application would use advanced features such as connection pooling, connection failure detection and recovery, transactions, security propagation, etc.

As said, EE or J2EE application servers are ideal containers for hosting business side logic. But it's not the best choice in literally every situation. There are cases where you would prefer to write your application as a stand alone Java program. There's nothing strange about that: you should always use the best tools for the job at hand, and no single tool is best in all situations.

Now say that you need to write a stand-alone Java application, and in that application you would need to connect to an external system. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to use an off-the-shelf Resource Adapter for this connectivity, so that you would not have to hand-code features such as connection pooling, connection failure detection and recovery etc? As I will show, this is not that difficult.

Hacking a Resource Adapter

Resource Adapters are distributed in RAR files, i.e. a file with a .rar extension. A RAR is nothing more than a ZIP file. When you open up a RAR, you will see a bunch of jars and a descriptor file with the name ra.xml. In a nutshell, this is what you need to do to use a Resource Adapter:

  1. Add the jars to your application's classpath
  2. Instantiate the Resource Adapter classes (you can find out which ones by examining the ra.xml)
  3. Configure the Resource Adapter by calling a few setter methods (you can find which ones by examining the ra.xml)
  4. Activate the Resource Adapter (you can find out how by reading the Java Connector API specification, or just read on)

These four steps are basically what the application server does when it loads a Resource Adapter. There's a lot of logic involved in this, but in a stand-alone Java application we can take a lot of short-cuts so that the logic that we need to write is not too involved.

There's quite a big difference in how a Resource Adapter is used to provide outbound connectivity versus inbound connectivity. With outbound connectivity, I mean a situation where an application obtains a connection to an external system and reads or writes data to it. With inbound I mean a situation where the Resource Adapter listens for events from the external system and calls into your application when such an event occurs.

As an example we will use the JMSJCA resource adapter. This is an open-source adapter for JMS connectivity to various JMS servers.

Outbound connectivity

In a nutshell what we need to do is instantiate the Resource Adapter class, configure it, instanatiate a Managed Connection Factory, and from that obtain the application-facing connection factory.

When you open up the ra.xml file, you can find out class implements the ResourceAdapter interface:


The Resource Adapter class has per the specification a no-args constructor and should implement the javax.resource.spi.ResourceAdapter interface. You could instantiate the ResourceAdapter simply by doing this: ra = new;

The drawback of this is that, although the chances of that being small, if the classname changes in future versions of the Resource Adapter, your application would no longer compile. A better approach would be to read the classname dynamically from the ra.xml. I'll leave that as "an excercise for the reader".

The Resource Adapter is a Java Bean with getters and setters. This is how you can configure the Resource Adapter. For example, we could set the connection URL as follows:


Next, we need to instantiate a  ManagedConnectionFactory.  Again from  the ra.xml, you can find the classname:


Again, the ManagedConnectionFactory must have a no-arg constructor and is a Java bean, so you can simply instantiate and configure one as follows: mcf = new;

Next, you may need to associate the newly created ManagedConnectionFactory with the ResourceAdapter. Those that require this association (most likely all of them), implement the javax.resource.spi.ResourceAdapterAssociation interface. This leads to the following code:


Lastly, you create the application-facing connection factory. In case of JMS, this is a javax.jmx.ConnectionFactory. You can find evidence of this in the ra.xml:


This leads to the following code:

javax.jms.ConnectionFactory f = (javax.jms.ConnectionFactory) mcf.createConnectionFactory();

Now, putting it all together, this is what you would need to create a JMS connection factory from the JMSJCA Resource Adapter: ra = new; mcf = new;
javax.jms.ConnectionFactory f = (javax.jms.ConnectionFactory) mcf.createConnectionFactory();

And that's all there's to it

As I mentioned, one of the advantages of using a Resource Adapter over using a client runtime directly, is that an Resource Adapter typically provides connection pooling and other nifty features. JMSJCA for instance provides a powerful and configurable connection manager with blocking behavior, time-out behavior, connection failure detection, etc. It even enlists the connection in the transaction if it detects that there is a transaction active when the connection is created.

Not all resource adapters will provide such a comprehensive connection manager: check the documentation of the resource adapter that you're planning to use. If it doesn't provide a connection manager to your liking, you can provide your own connection manager. If you need to write one, take a look at the one in JMSJCA: you may want to use it as a starting point.

Inbound connectivity

Inbound connectivity is where a resource adapter is used to receive messages from an external system; the resource adapter delivers these messages to a Message Driven Bean. In the case of JMS, this is javax.jms.MessageListener, with its void onMessage(javax.jms.Message) method. For other types of resource adapers, you will find other Message Driven Bean interfaces. Look in the ra.xml to find out which one.

Seting up inbound connectivity is a bit more involved than outbound connectivity. That is because with inbound, you need to explain to Resource Adapter how it should obtain a new instance of the Message Driven Bean, and how to obtain a thread that will call the onMessage() method or equivalent method.

We start with instantiating and configuring a ResourceAdapter object; the class can be found in ra.xml as I showed in the Outbound Connectivity section: ra = new;

Next, we need to call start() on the ResourceAdapter object. This method takes a javax.resource.spi.BootstrapContext object. You need to provide an implementation for this class; the most important method that you need to implement is the public getWorkManager() method. As you can see, this method should return a WorkManager object. This class has a number of methods that provide access to a threadpool. It would help at this point if you have a bit of knowledge of the internals of the Resource Adapter that you're trying to work with: some Adapters don't use a WorkManager, and the ones that do, typically only use one of the methods on the WorkManager object. For instance, here's a WorkManager that could be used with JMSJCA:

public class XWorkManager implements WorkManager {
private java.util.concurrent.Executor mPool;

public XWorkManager(int poolsize) {
mPool = new PooledExecutor(new LinkedQueue(), poolsize);

public void scheduleWork(Work work) throws WorkException {
try {
} catch (InterruptedException e) {
throw new WorkException(e);

// other methods just throw an exception

Fortunately we can make use of the java.util.concurrent tools introduced in JDK 5.0 for a threadpool. Next, we need to provide an implementation for javax.resource.spi.endpoint.MessageEndpointFactory. This is an interface with only two methods. One is there to indicate if the message delivery should be transacted, and the other one to is there to create a MessageEndpoint. This is a class that is a proxy around the Message Driven Bean. This proxy should implement the onMessage() or equivalent method which should simply delegate to the MessageListener or equivalent object in your application. The proxy should also implement three additional methods:

    void afterDelivery()
void beforeDelivery(Method method)
void release()

The beforeDelivery() and afterDelivery() methods are called just before the Resource Adapter calls the onMessage() or equivalent method. You could start and commit a transaction in these methods; if you're not using transactions, you can just leave these methods unimplemented. The release() method is called by the Resource Adapter when it's done using a Message Driven Bean. If you don't implement some sort of pooling mechanism for Message Driven Beans, and you probably won't, you can leave this method empty as well.

Now that you have implementations for the BootstrapContext, WorkManager, MessageEndpointFactory, and MessageEndpoint, you can finally tell the Resource Adapter to start delivering messages to your Message Driven Bean. You do that by calling the void endpointActivation(javax.resource.spi.endpoint.MessageEndpointFactory, javax.resource.spi.ActivationSpec) method on the ResourceAdapter. The ActivationSpec object is implemented by the Resource Adapter; you can find the classname in the ra.xml file. It is a Java bean that is used to configure the message delivery. For instance, in the case of JMS, you specify from which queue or topic to get messages.

As you can see, the inbound connectivity case is not as straight forward as the outbound connectivity case, but still very much doable.

Real examples

For a full sample source listing, take a look at the test suite in JMSJCA You can also look at the JMSBC as part of the Open JBI Components project. This Binding Component uses the JMSJCA Resource Adapter as described in this blog entry. By doing so, a lot of development effort was saved dealing with all the idiosyncracies of various JMS server implementations, connection management, etc.

Sunday Jan 21, 2007

JMSJCA, a feature rich JMS Resource Adapter, is now a project

JMSJCA is now a project. It can be found here:

The project is currently used in Java CAPS, JMS Grid and the JMS BC as part of the open-jbi-components project.

The connector can be used as a J2EE 1.4 Resource Adapter, but its libraries can also be used  as an abstraction layer to JMS servers from  non J2EE-code. As such, the adapter acts like a library that hides the complexities of transactions, concurrency, connection failure detection, JMS server implementation idiosyncracies, etc. That is how it is used in the JMS BC as part of the open-jbi-components project.

Monday Jan 15, 2007

Logless transactions

A few months ago, in my blog entry Transactions, disks, and performance I went into the importance of minimizing the number of writes. Transaction logging is one of those cases where minimizing the number of writes greatly enhances performance. In this entry, I'll describe a way to avoid transaction logging altogether.

What is transaction logging? Transaction logging refers to persisting the state of a two-phase transaction so that in the event of a crash, the transaction can either be committed or rolled back (recovered). I won't go into the details of what XA is; more information about XA transactions can be found elsewhere, e.g. in Mike Spille's XA Exposed.

Let me illustrate what recovery is using a "diagram". Consider an XA two phase transaction with three Resource Managers (RMa, RMb, and RMc). To indicate what happens at what time, I'll put all actions in a table; each row corresponds to a different time.

start(xid1a, TMNOFLAGS)


start(xid1b, TMNOFLAGS)


start(xid1c, TMNOFLAGS)
end(xid1a, TMSUCCESS)


end(xid1b, TMSUCCESS)


end(xid1c, TMSUCCESS)





commit(xid1a, false)


commit(xid1b, false)


commit(xid1c, false)

delete from log

At t10 the transaction manager records the decision to commit to the log. Let's say that the system crashes after t10, say between t11 and t12. When the system restarts, it will call recover() on all known Resource Managers and it will read the transaction log. In the transaction log it will find that xid1x was marked for commit. Through recover() it will find that xid1b and xid1c are in doubt. It knows that these two need to be committed because of the commit decision in the log.

What happens if the system crashes before the commit decision is written to the log, for example between t8 and t9? Upon recovery, the recover() method of RMa, RMb and RMc return xid1a and xid1b (but not xid1c because prepare was not called on RMc yet). The transaction manager will rollback RMa and RMb because no commit decision was found in the log.

SeeBeyond's Logless XA Transactions

Let's take a look at the recover() method on the XAResource. This method returns an array of Xid objects. Each Xid object holds two byte[] arrays. These two arrays represent the global transaction ID and the branch qualifier. They are typically random numbers picked by the transaction manager. The Resource Managers that receive these Xids should use these objects as identifiers and return them in the recover() method unmodified.

At SeeBeyond, Jerry Waldorf and Venugopalan Venkataraman came up with an idea to use the storage space in the byte[] arrays of the Xid as a way to persist the transaction state. Here's how it works. Let's modify the above example by removing transaction logging:

start(xid1a, TMNOFLAGS)


start(xid1b, TMNOFLAGS)


start(xid1c, TMNOFLAGS)
end(xid1a, TMSUCCESS)


end(xid1b, TMSUCCESS)


end(xid1c, TMSUCCESS)






commit(xid1c, false)

commit(xid1b, false)

commit(xid1a, false)

A commit decision is still being made, but this decision is no longer persisted in a separate transaction log. In stead, it is persisted in xid1a. If the system finds xid1a upon recovery, it knows that a commit decision was made. If it doesn't find xid1a, it knows that a commit decision was not made. Note that the order in which both prepare and commit are called on the three Resource Managers is very important.

As in the first example, if the system crashes before a commit decision has been made, it will rollback any resources upon recovery. E.g. if the system crashes between t8 and t9, it will encounter xid1c and xid1b and will call rollback() on these because it cannot find a record of a commit-decision for xid1, i.e. it cannot find xid1a. Hence, xid1b and xid1c need to be rolled back.

If the system crashes after a commit decision has been made, for example between t10 and t11, it will find xid1b and xid1a. Since xid1a signifies a commit decision, both xid1b and xid1a should be committed.

So far so good. But how does the transaction manager know that if it encounters xidb it should look for xida to figure out if a commit decision was made? This is where the transaction manager uses the byte[] of the Xid: it stores this information in one of them.

Complicating factors

A problem in this scheme occurs when the prepare(xid1a) method returns XA_RDONLY. If that happens, commit(xid1a, false) cannot be called, and RMa will not return xid1a upon calling recover(). Recall that xid1a had special significance! Hence it is important to order the Resource Managers such that the first one on which prepare() is called, is both reliable and will not return XA_RDONLY. However, in normal EE applications, the application prescribes in which order resources are enlisted in a transaction. Hence, to use this logless transaction scheme, the application server either needs to be extended with a way to specify resources a priori, or the application server needs to be extended with a learning capability so that it knows which resources are enlisted in a particular operation so that it can pick the right resource manager to write the commit decision to.

The SeeBeyond logless transaction approach is one of the ways that transaction logging can be made less exensive. In a future blog, I'll cover additional ones.

Monday Dec 11, 2006

Short note: Running Java CAPS on Java SE 6

Today Java SE 6 was released. It comes with many new features and cool tools. One of them being jmap as described in a previous log on permgen exceptions. The Integration Server is not officially supported on SE 6 yet. However, if you want to run the Java CAPS integration server on SE 6, this is what you can do:

  1.     Install JDK 6 somewhere, e.g. c:\\java
  2.     Install the IS somewhere, e.g. c:\\logicalhost
  3.     Rename c:\\logicalhost\\jre to c:\\logicalhost\\jre.old
  4.     Copy c:\\java\\jre1.6.0 to c:\\logicalhost\\jre
  5.     Copy c:\\java\\jdk1.6.0\\lib\\tools.jar to c:\\logicalhost\\jre\\lib
  6.     Copy c:\\logicalhost\\jre\\bin\\javaw.exe to c:\\logicalhost\\jre\\bin\\is_domain1.exe
  7.     Copy c:\\logicalhost\\jre\\bin\\javaw.exe to c:\\logicalhost\\jre\\bin\\ isprocmgr_domain1.exe
  8.     Edit c:\\logicalhost\\is\\domains\\domain1\\config\\domain.xml and comment out these lines:

i.e. add <!-- before and add --> after these lines.

Also comment out this line:

<!--        <jvm-options>-server</jvm-options>-->

After these changes you can run the Integration Server with Jave SE 6. These are not “official” recommendations (as mentioned, there’s no support for SE 6 just yet); also the lines commented out are optimizations, that need to be re-established for SE 6 tet, so don’t do any performance comparisons just yet.


Thursday Nov 16, 2006

Using java.util.logging in BEA Weblogic

This blog has moved to

Wednesday Nov 15, 2006

More on... How to fix the dreaded "java.lang.OutOfMemoryError: PermGen space" exception (classloader leaks)

I got quite a few comments on my last blog (How to fix the dreaded "java.lang.OutOfMemoryError: PermGen space" exception (classloader leaks)). Apparently more people have been struggling with this problem.

Why bring this up? What's the news? Edward Chou continued to explore options to diagnose classloader leaks. First of all, he explored how to generate a list of orphaned classloaders with jhat. An orphaned classloader is a classloader that is not referenced by any object directly but cannot be garbage collected. The thinking behind this is that programs that create classloaders (e.g. application servers) do maintain references to them. So if there's a classloader that is no longer directly referenced, this classloader is probably a leak. Read about it on his blog (Find Orphaned Classloaders).

Still we were not satisfied: when examining some memory dumps from code that we were not familiar with, we explored yet some other options to diagnose classloader leaks: duplicate classes and duplicate classloaders. Let me explain.

Let's say that your application has a class. If you find many instances of this class object, you likely have a classloader leak. Note the phrase "instances of this class object". What I mean by this: the class is loaded multiple times, i.e. multiple instances of the are present.  You can use jhat to run this query: simply list all instances of java.lang.Class.

Edward modified jhat to generate a list of all classloader instances that have an identical set of classes that it loaded. Typically there's no reason why someone would create two classloader instances and load exactly the same set of classes into them. If you find any in your memory dump, you should get suspicious and take a closer look. Monitor Edward's blog for more details on this.

One more thing: Edward found out that the method java.lang.String.intern() allocates memory in PermGen space. So if your application frequently uses this method with different strings, watch out. Fortunately these strings are subject to garbage collection. But if your application holds references to these strings, thereby making garbage collection impossible, your application may cause the dreaded "java.lang.OutOfMemoryError: PermGen space" exception. No classloaders involved this time.




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