NetCat in Java

Recently, I tried to run netcat under Windows and I failed to compile it. So I decided to write a simple equivalent in Java, which works under all platforms.

NetCat is a very simple and useful tool, which allows to see contents of TCP/IP requests, like HTTP etc., both server and client side. With NetCat it is possible to either set up TCP/IP listener on a port and receive data or send TCP/IP request to remote server.

The code and executable for Java version of NetCat is available on GitHub:

I used Jakarta Commons CLI to handle commandline parameters. The code is as simple as that:

In order to handle stream I/O I implemented a simple StreamTransferer class like this:

The only issue I had was that whenever I closed Java I/O stream using OutputStream.close(), it was closing the whole socket. So I couldn’t receive any response back from server. So instead of doing that I had to use Socket shutdownOutput method, like in the code below.

It worked perfectly then.

So it is possible to send HTTP GET requests to google using this tool. In order to do that, you need to connect to and type GET and enter. CTRL+Z and enter is for closing input stream under Windows. CTRL+D is for Linux.

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Grails session timeout without XML

This article shows clean, non hacky way of configuring featureful event listeners for Grails application servlet context. Feat. HttpSessionListener as a Spring bean example with session timeout depending on whether user account is premium or not.

Common approaches

Speaking of session timeout config in Grails, a default approach is to install templates with a command. This way we got direct access to web.xml file. Also more unnecessary files are created. Despite that unnecessary files are unnecessary, we should also remember some other common knowledge: XML is not for humans.

Another, a bit more hacky, way is to create mysterious scripts/_Events.groovy file. Inside of which, by using not less enigmatic closure: eventWebXmlEnd = { filename -> ... }we can parse and hack into web.xml with a help of XmlSlurper.
Even though lot of Grails plugins do it similar way, still it’s not really straightforward, is it? Besides, where’s the IDE support? Hello!?

Examples of both above ways can be seen on StackOverflow.

Simpler and cleaner way

By adding just a single line to the already generated init closure we have it done:
class BootStrap {

def init = { servletContext ->

Allrighty, this is enough to avoid XML. Sweets are served after the main course though :)

Listener as a Spring bean

Let us assume we have a requirement. Set a longer session timeout for premium user account.
Users are authenticated upon session creation through SSO.

To easy meet the requirements just instantiate the CustomTimeoutSessionListener as Spring bean at resources.groovy. We also going to need some source of the user custom session timeout. Let say a ConfigService.
beans = {    
customTimeoutSessionListener(CustomTimeoutSessionListener) {
configService = ref('configService')

With such approach BootStrap.groovy has to by slightly modified. To keep control on listener instantation, instead of passing listener class type, Spring bean is injected by Grails and the instance passed:
class BootStrap {

def customTimeoutSessionListener

def init = { servletContext ->

An example CustomTimeoutSessionListener implementation can look like:
import javax.servlet.http.HttpSessionEvent    
import javax.servlet.http.HttpSessionListener

class CustomTimeoutSessionListener implements HttpSessionListener {

ConfigService configService

void sessionCreated(HttpSessionEvent httpSessionEvent) {
httpSessionEvent.session.maxInactiveInterval = configService.sessionTimeoutSeconds

void sessionDestroyed(HttpSessionEvent httpSessionEvent) { /* nothing to implement */ }
Having at hand all power of the Spring IoC this is surely a good place to load some persisted user’s account stuff into the session or to notify any other adequate bean about user presence.

Wait, what about the user context?

Honest answer is: that depends on your case. Yet here’s an example of getSessionTimeoutMinutes() implementation using Spring Security:

class ConfigService {

static final int 3H = 3 * 60 * 60
static final int QUARTER = 15 * 60

int getSessionTimeoutSeconds() {

String username = SecurityContextHolder.context?.authentication?.principal
def account = Account.findByUsername(username)

return account?.premium ? 3H : QUARTER
This example is simplified. Does not contain much of defensive programming. Just an assumption that principal is already set and is a String - unique username. Thanks to Grails convention our ConfigService is transactional so the Account domain class can use GORM dynamic finder.
OK, config fetching implementation details are out of scope here anyway. You can get, load, fetch, obtain from wherever you like to. Domain persistence, principal object, role config, external file and so on...

Any gotchas?

There is one. When running grails test command, servletContext comes as some mocked class instance without addListener method. Thus we going to have a MissingMethodException when running tests :(

Solution is typical:
def init = { servletContext ->
if (Environment.current != Environment.TEST) {
An unnecessary obstacle if you ask me. Should I submit a Jira issue about that?


Just implement a HttpSessionListener. Create a Spring bean of the listener. Inject it into BootStrap.groovy and call servletContext.addListener(injectedListener).

Clojure web development – state of the art

It’s now more than a year that I’m getting familiar with Clojure and the more I dive into it, the more it becomes the language. Once you defeat the “parentheses fear”, everything else just makes the difference: tooling, community, good engineering practices. So it’s now time for me to convince others. In this post I’ll try to walktrough a simple web application from scratch to show key tools and libraries used to develop with Clojure in late 2015.

Note for Clojurians: This material is rather elementary and may be useful for you if you already know Clojure a bit but never did anything bigger than hello world application.

Note for Java developers: This material shows how to replace Spring, Angular, grunt, live-reload with a bunch of Clojure tools and libraries and a bit of code.

The repo with final code and individual steps is here.


I think all agreed that component is the industry standard for managing lifecycle of Clojure applications. If you are a Java developer you may think of it as a Spring (DI) replacement - you declare dependencies between “components” which are resolved on “system” startup. So you just say “my component needs a repository/database pool” and component library “injects” it for you.

To keep things simple I like to start with duct web app template. It’s a nice starter component application following the 12-factor philosophy. So let’s start with it:

lein new duct clojure-web-app +example

The +example parameter tells duct to create an example endpoint with HTTP routes - this would be helpful. To finish bootstraping run lein setup inside clojure-web-app directory.

Ok, let’s dive into the code. Component and injection related code should be in system.clj file:

(defn new-system [config]
  (let [config (meta-merge base-config config)]
    (-> (component/system-map
         :app  (handler-component (:app config))
         :http (jetty-server (:http config))
         :example (endpoint-component example-endpoint))
         {:http [:app]
          :app  [:example]
          :example []}))))

In the first section you instantiate components without dependencies, which are resolved in the second section. So in this example, “http” component (server) requires “app” (application abstraction), which in turn is injected with “example” (actual routes). If your component needs others, you just can get then by names (precisely: by Clojure keywords).

To start the system you must fire a REPL - interactive environment running within context of your application:

lein repl

After seeing prompt type (go). Application should start, you can visit http://localhost:3000 to see some example page.

A huge benefit of using component approach is that you get fully reloadable application. When you change literally anything - configuration, endpoints, implementation, you can just type (reset) in REPL and your application is up-to-date with the code. It’s a feature of the language, no JRebel, Spring-reloaded needed.

Adding REST endpoint

Ok, in the next step let’s add some basic REST endpoint returning JSON. We need to add 2 dependencies in project.clj file:

  [ring/ring-json "0.3.1"]
  [cheshire "5.1.1"]

Ring-json adds support for JSON for your routes (in ring it’s called middleware) and cheshire is Clojure JSON parser (like Jackson in Java). Modifying project dependencies if one of the few tasks that require restarting the REPL, so hit CTRL-C and type lein repl again.

To configure JSON middleware we have to add wrap-json-body and wrap-json-response just before wrap-defaults in system.clj:

 [ring.middleware.json :refer [wrap-json-body wrap-json-response]])

(def base-config
   {:app {:middleware [[wrap-not-found :not-found]
                      [wrap-json-body {:keywords? true}]
                      [wrap-defaults :defaults]]

And finally, in endpoint/example.clj we must add some route with JSON response:

 [ring.util.response :refer [response]]))

(defn example-endpoint [config]
    (GET "/hello" [] (response {:hello "world"}))

Reload app with (reset) in REPL and test new route with curl:

curl -v http://localhost:3000/hello

< HTTP/1.1 200 OK
< Date: Tue, 15 Sep 2015 21:17:37 GMT
< Content-Type: application/json; charset=utf-8
< Set-Cookie: ring-session=37c337fb-6bbc-4e65-a060-1997718d03e0;Path=/;HttpOnly
< X-XSS-Protection: 1; mode=block
< X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN
< X-Content-Type-Options: nosniff
< Content-Length: 151
* Server Jetty(9.2.10.v20150310) is not blacklisted
< Server: Jetty(9.2.10.v20150310)
* Connection #0 to host localhost left intact
{"hello": "world"}

It works! In case of any problems you can find working version in this commit.

Adding frontend with figwheel

Coding backend in Clojure is great, but what about the frontend? As you may already know, Clojure could be compiled not only to JVM bytecode, but also to Javascript. This may sound familiar if you used e.g. Coffescript. But ClojureScript philosophy is not only to provide some syntax sugar, but improve your development cycle with great tooling and fully interactive development. Let’s see how to achieve it.

The best way to introduce ClojureScript to a project is figweel. First let’s add fighweel plugin and configuration to project.clj:

   [lein-figwheel "0.3.9"]

And cljsbuild configuration:

    {:builds [{:id "dev"
               :source-paths ["src-cljs"]
               :figwheel true
               :compiler {:main       "clojure-web-app.core"
                          :asset-path "js/out"
                          :output-to  "resources/public/js/clojure-web-app.js"
                          :output-dir "resources/public/js/out"}}]}

In short this tells ClojureScript compiler to take sources from src-cljs with figweel support and but resulting JavaScript into resources/public/js/clojure-web-app.js file. So we need to include this file in a simple HTML page:

<!DOCTYPE html>
  <div id="main">
  <script src="js/clojure-web-app.js" type="text/javascript"></script>

To serve this static file we need to change some defaults and add corresponding route. In system.clj change api-defaults to site-defaults both in require section and base-config function. In example.clj add following route:

(GET "/" [] (io/resource "public/index.html")

Again (reset) in REPL window should reload everything.

But where is our ClojureScript source file? Let’s create file core.cljs in src-cljs/clojure-web-app directory:

(ns ^:figwheel-always clojure-web-app.core)


(println "hello from clojurescript")

Open another terminal and run lein fighweel. It should compile ClojureScript and print ‘Prompt will show when figwheel connects to your application’. Open http://localhost:3000. Fighweel window should prompt:

To quit, type: :cljs/quit

Type (js/alert "hello"). Boom! If everything worked you should see and alert in your browser. Open developers console in your browser. You should see hello from clojurescript printed on the console. Change it in core.cljs to (println "fighweel rocks") and save the file. Without reloading the page your should see updated message. Figweel rocks! Again, in case of any problems, refer to this commit.

In the next post I’ll show how to fetch data from MongoDB, serve it with REST to the broser and write ReactJs/Om components to render it. Stay tuned!