Modular Web Application using Eclipse Snaps

Few days ago, new milestone 3.0.0.M03 of Eclipse Virgo was released. Final release of this well prepared OSGi-based application Server getting closer so I decided to take a look at how to use it to write simple modular web application.

What does it mean a modular web application in OSGi environment? I imagine that this application should:

1) Change their look after installation of some extensions.

2) Also we should be able to write new request handlers for our application or modify flow control of existed.

First idea which occurred to me how to resolve first mentioned problem is to use fragment bundles mechanism. Fragment bundles give opportunity to create bundles with resources and classes which will be accessible from host bundle classloader. A key use case of its was “providing translation files for different locales“. So we can do few fragments with jsp files which should be able to include in index servlet page. Also we can provide some configuration files with class names of new request handlers which could be created using java reflection.

But fragment bundles have some disadvantages. How we can read in specification: “The new content of the updated fragment must not be allowed to attach to the host bundles until the Framework is restarted or the host bundle is refreshed“. This mean that we cannot do installation of extention without refreshing host bundle. Also new jsps must be compiled as a part of host application’s jsps so it is second reason why host bundle should be restarted. The last thing is that fragment bundles can’t have Bundle Activator which is also useful in many cases.

Eclipse Virgo gives component which resolves this problems – Virgo Snaps. It is easy in use extension which helps create modular web application framework. Sources are available here

After build of project and copy artifacts to virgo:

cd build-snaps

ant jar

cd ..

cp org.eclipse.virgo.snaps.api/target/artifacts/org.eclipse.virgo.snaps.api.jar ${virgo.home}/repository/usr/

cp org.eclipse.virgo.snaps.core/target/artifacts/org.eclipse.virgo.snaps.core.jar ${virgo.home}/repository/usr/

… and restart of server, we are ready to use snaps.

In samples dir there is example menu-bar showing idea of Snaps. In host bundle – we can see in top.jsp usage of taglib snaps:

  • “> ${[‘link.text’]}



It is simple way to iterate through snaps associated with this host. Only thing which we must to do is to add this snippet to MANIFEST.MF:

Snap-Host:;version="[1.0, 2.0)"

Snap-ContextPath: /cat

In first line we are manifesting that this snap will be used as a part of host In the second that all servlets will be deployed in this subcontext of context of host.

In this example also were used properties from file which are available in session as attribute properties of snap.

After install host bundle at url: http://localhost:8080/animal-menu-bar we can see page without menu items. After installation of new items are become available.

You May Also Like

JBoss Envers and Spring transaction managers

I've stumbled upon a bug with my configuration for JBoss Envers today, despite having integration tests all over the application. I have to admit, it casted a dark shadow of doubt about the value of all the tests for a moment. I've been practicing TDD since 2005, and frankly speaking, I should have been smarter than that.

My fault was simple. I've started using Envers the right way, with exploratory tests and a prototype. Then I've deleted the prototype and created some integration tests using in-memory H2 that looked more or less like this example:

public void savingAndUpdatingPersonShouldCreateTwoHistoricalVersions() {
    Person person = createAndSavePerson();
    String oldFirstName = person.getFirstName();
    String newFirstName = oldFirstName + "NEW";

    updatePersonWithNewName(person, newFirstName);

    verifyTwoHistoricalVersionsWereSaved(oldFirstName, newFirstName);

private Person createAndSavePerson() {
    Transaction transaction = session.beginTransaction();
    Person person = PersonFactory.createPerson();;
    return person;

private void updatePersonWithNewName(Person person, String newName) {
    Transaction transaction = session.beginTransaction();

private void verifyTwoHistoricalVersionsWereSaved(String oldFirstName, String newFirstName) {
    List<Object[]> personRevisions = getPersonRevisions();
    assertEquals(2, personRevisions.size());
    assertEquals(oldFirstName, ((Person)personRevisions.get(0)[0]).getFirstName());
    assertEquals(newFirstName, ((Person)personRevisions.get(1)[0]).getFirstName());

private List<Object[]> getPersonRevisions() {
    Transaction transaction = session.beginTransaction();
    AuditReader auditReader = AuditReaderFactory.get(session);
    List<Object[]> personRevisions = auditReader.createQuery()
            .forRevisionsOfEntity(Person.class, false, true)
    return personRevisions;

Because Envers inserts audit data when the transaction is commited (in a new temporary session), I thought I have to create and commit the transaction manually. And that is true to some point.

My fault was that I didn't have an end-to-end integration/acceptance test, that would call to entry point of the application (in this case a service which is called by GWT via RPC), because then I'd notice, that the Spring @Transactional annotation, and calling transaction.commit() are two, very different things.

Spring @Transactional annotation will use a transaction manager configured for the application. Envers on the other hand is used by subscribing a listener to hibernate's SessionFactory like this:

<bean id="sessionFactory" class="org.springframework.orm.hibernate3.annotation.AnnotationSessionFactoryBean" >        
 <property name="eventListeners">
     <map key-type="java.lang.String" value-type="org.hibernate.event.EventListeners">
         <entry key="post-insert" value-ref="auditEventListener"/>
         <entry key="post-update" value-ref="auditEventListener"/>
         <entry key="post-delete" value-ref="auditEventListener"/>
         <entry key="pre-collection-update" value-ref="auditEventListener"/>
         <entry key="pre-collection-remove" value-ref="auditEventListener"/>
         <entry key="post-collection-recreate" value-ref="auditEventListener"/>

<bean id="auditEventListener" class="org.hibernate.envers.event.AuditEventListener" />

Envers creates and collects something called AuditWorkUnits whenever you update/delete/insert audited entities, but audit tables are not populated until something calls AuditProcess.beforeCompletion, which makes sense. If you are using org.hibernate.transaction.JDBCTransaction manually, this is called on commit() when notifying all subscribed javax.transaction.Synchronization objects (and enver's AuditProcess is one of them).

The problem was, that I used a wrong transaction manager.

<bean id="transactionManager" class="org.springframework.jdbc.datasource.DataSourceTransactionManager" >
    <property name="dataSource" ref="dataSource"/>

This transaction manager doesn't know anything about hibernate and doesn't use org.hibernate.transaction.JDBCTransaction. While Synchronization is an interface from javax.transaction package, DataSourceTransactionManager doesn't use it (maybe because of simplicity, I didn't dig deep enough in org.springframework.jdbc.datasource), and thus Envers works fine except not pushing the data to the database.

Which is the whole point of using Envers.

Use right tools for the task, they say. The whole problem is solved by using a transaction manager that is well aware of hibernate underneath.

<bean id="transactionManager" class="org.springframework.orm.hibernate3.HibernateTransactionManager" >
    <property name="sessionFactory" ref="sessionFactory"/>

Lesson learned: always make sure your acceptance tests are testing the right thing. If there is a doubt about the value of your tests, you just don't have enough of them,

Need to make a quick json fixes – JSONPath for rescue

From time to time I have a need to do some fixes in my json data. In a world of flat files I do this with grep/sed/awk tool chain. How to handle it for JSON? Searching for a solution I came across the JSONPath. It quite mature tool (from 2007) but I haven't hear about it so I decided to share my experience with others.

First of all you can try it without pain online: Full syntax is described at

But also you can download python binding and run it from command line:
$ sudo apt-get install python-jsonpath-rw
$ sudo apt-get install python-setuptools
$ sudo easy_install -U jsonpath

After that you can use inside python or with simple cli wrapper:
import sys, json, jsonpath

path = sys.argv[

result = jsonpath.jsonpath(json.load(sys.stdin), path)
print json.dumps(result, indent=2)

… you can use it in your shell e.g. for json:
"store": {
"book": [
"category": "reference",
"author": "Nigel Rees",
"title": "Sayings of the Century",
"price": 8.95
"category": "fiction",
"author": "Evelyn Waugh",
"title": "Sword of Honour",
"price": 12.99
"category": "fiction",
"author": "Herman Melville",
"title": "Moby Dick",
"isbn": "0-553-21311-3",
"price": 8.99
"category": "fiction",
"author": "J. R. R. Tolkien",
"title": "The Lord of the Rings",
"isbn": "0-395-19395-8",
"price": 22.99
"bicycle": {
"color": "red",
"price": 19.95

You can print only book nodes with price lower than 10 by:
$ jsonpath '$[?(@.price 

"category": "reference",
"price": 8.95,
"title": "Sayings of the Century",
"author": "Nigel Rees"
"category": "fiction",
"price": 8.99,
"title": "Moby Dick",
"isbn": "0-553-21311-3",
"author": "Herman Melville"

Have a nice JSON hacking!From time to time I have a need to do some fixes in my json data. In a world of flat files I do this with grep/sed/awk tool chain. How to handle it for JSON? Searching for a solution I came across the JSONPath. It quite mature tool (from 2007) but I haven't hear about it so I decided to share my experience with others.