Tuesday Jul 03, 2007

GlassFish Powers Knowledgebase at the University of North Carolina

North Carolina License Plate Reading: GLASSFISH

The University of North Carolina has a history of leading. It was founded in 1789 and opened to students in 1795, making it the first public university in the United States (and the only one to offer degrees during the eighteenth century). This trailblazing spirit continues today, albeit with a few twenty-first century twists.

So when they needed to manage the knowledgebase for the Chapel Hill campus' IT infrastructure, the university's Information Technology Services personnel weren't afraid to chart their own path. They set out to build a new document management system, using a few key questions to define its architecture.

As Adam Constabaris describes:

A fundamental question for us in building this application was whether to use Tomcat and "soup it up" by using Spring to add services Tomcat doesn't provide itself, or whether to use a full Java EE container. We could have made it work with the servlet container approach, since our application isn't heavily "enterprisey" and we were initially reluctant to pay the complexity price of EJBs. After looking at the Java EE 5 specification, though, we saw a lot of ways we could simplify and standardize things, such as using JSF 1.2 and coding to the Java Persistence API rather than using Hiberrnate APIs directly.

So where they had assumed Java EE would bring complexity, investigation showed that it actually offered simplification. As you might expect, that made for a pretty obvious choice. And once they'd chosen to use a Java EE container, one question remained: which one? As Adam notes: "Glassfish was the only production quality Java EE compliant container that fit our budget, and so, well, here we are."

Here they are, indeed. The system is now deployed in production, and uses many popular open source frameworks: "Spring and Acegi, Facelets, Tomahawk JSF components, Nux and XOM, Abdera (AtomPub implementation in incubation at Apache), AspectJ, SVNKit, the Sesame RDF Framework... it goes on."

Want more info? Try these resources:

Tuesday Mar 06, 2007

Harvard Builds its Dataverse Network on GlassFish

Harvard University Logo Researchers at Harvard University are on a mission to change the way that academics store and share data. As the project's software development manager, Merce Crosas, describes:

Our project, the Dataverse Network, is an on-line archive for sharing data within and across universities and other institutions conducting research. Stability and scalability have been a concern in developing this software from the beginning. The application serves not only as an online archive for storing research data, but also provides social science researchers with the means to cite their own data and allow others to replicate the results through an extensive on-line analysis tool...

What application server did they choose to power the Dataverse Network? GlassFish, of course. Early in 2006, the team decided upon using Java EE 5 and "inquiries at the JavaOne 2006 conference made it clear that GlassFish would be the only fully compliant Java EE 5 implementation in our initial development timeframe."

The benefits of using GlassFish didn't end with its first-to-market Java EE 5 support, though. Remember their stringent stability and scalability needs? Not a problem. As Merce notes, "GlassFish's stability enabled us to concentrate on the code and not worry about the server environment."

Integrating other technologies with GlassFish also went well. The team uses NetBeans, Java Studio Creator, the Lucene search engine, PostgreSQL database, Shale standalone tiles, and AWStats web analytics tools. Integrating and using so much new technology required that the team "forge new ground" in a few cases, but overall they found the GlassFish server environment to be "very configurable and easy to use." For example, integrating the Awstats web analytics tool "was as simple as locating the HttpServices window and modifying the access log format all in an easy-to-use, uncomplicated interface."

The Dataverse Network will be live in the next few weeks, "serving all social science data to all Harvard and MIT faculty, students and staff." Want more info in the meantime? Here are some additional resources:

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