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From Dan Adams <...@ifactory.com>
Subject Eating the dog food: experiences with T5 so far
Date Thu, 29 May 2008 13:59:33 GMT
Hey all,

I've been pretty quiet the last couple months because I've been very, very focused on a high-priority
project here at the factory. We recently decided to use T5 for the project (a pretty major
move which I expect to extend to the rest of engineering) and I thought I'd share some of
what I'm doing and how it's gone so far.

The project is a internal application that will handle ~200 users at a time during peak usage
and will manage 12,000+ projects per year. It's integrating with up to 5 external systems.
I wish I could give you more detailed info because it's got some sweet features but, alas,
I cannot.

Notes on project infrastructure:
 * Uses Hibernate extensively
 * Uses Lucene for searching
 * We have an internal t5-based library (or 3 actually) that aids in building CMS and other
administrative applications. One library provides super-slick Lucene integration for Hibernate
entities. Some of this (like the @Cached annotation) has already been donated to t5. I'm very
open to donating more in the future if I feel like it fits into T5 and isn't too specific
to our company.
 * Testing environment is all embedded, staging is on tomcat with oracle. Deployment is on
weblogic with oracle in a big cluster.

Some notes on the development environment:
 * Testng is used for testing. Selenium is used for web tests.

 * Jetty is used for the web server. On start-up (at registry creation), an embedded HSQLDB
instance is started and the tables are created based on the Hibernate entities automatically.
Takes 2-3 seconds.

 * All web tests are written against the Selenium interface. However, I've built some tools
around this (in addition to the normal helper methods):

   * A wrapper that watches for Tapestry exception pages. If one is found it parses the exception
type, message, and stack trace and rethrows it in the test (as a nested exception) so that
you get 1) where and how your test failed and 2) what the exception was in the application.
99% of the time it eliminates the need to re-run the test or manually click through the pages
to find out what the problem really is.

   * An unbelievably slick adapter that allows running any or all web tests in HtmlUnit instead
of Selenium without ever touching the HtmlUnit API or even knowing it's there. Most of the
features are supported (except for things like taking a screenshot) and the transition is
seamless. The HtmlUnit tests start up and run *much* faster than Selenium which helps a ton
if you are doing TDD (which we do).

   * I'm considering writing a similar Selenium adapter over PageTester to make writing page/component
unit tests easier (and take advantage of things like our helper methods).

 * For component/page unit testing, we have a base class that creates a PageTester and starts
an embedded HSQLDB instance as with the full Jetty integration tests. Also, any service from
the t5 IoC registry can be injected into your test case class using the @Inject annotation
(even on private fields).

Some things I've found difficult (off the top of my head):
 * Knowing the format for a contribution and the service I need to contribute to. Is it an
ordered config or non-ordered? What type does the configuration take? etc. I normally find
what I need by searching through TapestryModule for similar contributions.
 * Having an event handler not get called and not knowing why. Specifically not being able
to use onValidateFromFieldname() with beaneditform is a bummer. I've had to fall back to using
onValidateForm() instead.

After eating my own dog food the last couples weeks the experience has been pretty positive,
especially considering the framework is still in beta. Overall it's a vast improvement over
T4 in terms of development speed and the potential for efficiencies is huge. It's also just
a lot of fun. Development on this project is just starting so I'm sure I'll have more comments
at the end of it.

Dan Adams
Senior Software Engineer
Interactive Factory
p: 617.235.5857


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