JavaScript Library Hell

After being into software development now for almost 20 years, counting in student days, these days I have to admit I spent most of this time, and especially most of my “productive” work on the server side using Perl and Java, with Python and shell scripting always being around as tooling things but never as real first-choice languages. Through these years, also my perceptions of architecture, technology and, actually, using server-sided Java have changed in many ways – from “web-only” applications to more complex structures running inside Java EE application servers to more lightweight structures running as standalone applications embedding HTTP servers or modules listening on messaging systems such as ActiveMQ or XMPP. Another change that happened all along the way is that JavaScript made its way from something everyone loved to hate to something everyone at least seems to want to use for day-to-day work. And while, after taking a few deep dives, in some fields I surely do understand this, in others I don’t at all…

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Jetty, Micro Services and re-shaping things.

Last week, the Java part of our system went productive after a major runtime update – and it did so not on top of the Glassfish application server we’ve been using so far but rather re-structured into multiple modules embedding a current version of Eclipse Jetty. This is a fairly large change and quite a step, still sort of a work in progress and, after all, once again something worth writing a bit more about…

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AltaVista: Mountain nightfall…

As of today, altavista.com has been officially shut down and is just another redirect to your “local” Yahoo! starting page. Who cares? Not many. Which possibly is one of the problems, considering altavista.com used to be the predominant search engine for quite a while back then before we saw the rise of Google.

And, all technological and product strategy aspects of things aside, there is a personal point of looking at this. Same as the (by then, for my tastes) rather peculiar layout of Sun workstation keyboards or, later, that chunky, clumsy, memory-leak-laden beast that Netscape Navigator for Unix platforms always used to be, the blue/white mountain logo that appeared on late 1990s altavista.com is pretty closely tied to my first ever Internet or WWW experiences – back then when GeoCities neighborhoods still used to be ‘cool’ and everyone tried to get her or his little site on the web listed in some sort of web ring all along with other sites, in the end just another way of trying to get visitors to pages and make people aware of whatever one considered important enough to spend time on it – time dealing with it, time to write about it, time to even at least partially learn HTML and all these things to in the end get things “on the web” through that noisy 56k modem dialup line.

Most of these things have changed. Modem lines have been replaced with “internet connectivity” way faster even via wireless links on most mobile devices. The need to know about HTML, CSS and friends, though still helpful and interesting, is not necessary anymore to the majority of users who “just” want to put content online, whichever kind of content it eventually might be. Web worlds such as GeoCities have been replaced by social networks, by Facebook, Google+ and a bunch of similar open and closed worlds doing effectively the same and more. And, ultimately, web rings, web directories and “early day” search engines have been replaced by Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo. “Replaced”, indeed: Though early technologies such as altavista.com kept serving users for quite some years, it seems most of them in the end failed to move ahead, failed to offer new reasons to make people come back rather than go with any of the new offerings out there.

And these other offerings, ultimately, by now will prevail while altavista.com is being closed down. Bad luck? Axed in course of a cruel business decision? Discontinued after virtually being “abandoned” without much vision of any kind for the last bunch of years, to say the very least? Maybe. In the end, to me, it’s the shutdown of a service I haven’t seriously used in ages. Same as I haven’t made much use of 56k modems recently – for good reasons, I’d say. So the only thing left is wondering whether, in the end, altavista.com might have been better off on their own, as part of a small, enthusiastic crowd of developers yet without Yahoo!, same as GeoCities or (eventually) Flickr and Tumblr. But that’s possibly another kind of story…

a better mousetrap #2: RESTing HATEOAS

Eventually a rather short thought relating to my attempt trying to, well, build a better mouse trap. Maybe in course of exploring things and slowly growing a technical environment into something new, there’s always the chance of discovering a show-stopper to immediately prove a given approach limited or even wrong altogether, but at the moment, I am pretty much entertained by following HATEOAS and HTTP ‘ideas’ for building an (external, internal, whatever) system interface all anew. Why?

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