Tuesday, July 15, 2014

New ways to do old things

Web Services are a way of life for mobile developers.  I can't really think of a single mobile app I've written that didn't have a backend of some type, even if it's just Google Analytics.

A very common pattern for web services are to setup a basic set of REST based services.  These let the phone update info on the backend very easily.  One of the fastest and easiest Web Servers to use is Google's AppEngine unfortunately rest frameworks are oddly heavy - meaning that the frameworks use lots of jars and extra libraries to do something that seems like it should be simple - and the heavier the framework the more effort is to get it working.

Here is an example of a restful url to list all the frogs on a backend:
Another way to create that same functionality would be to create a basic url like this:

The backend code for both  techniques would be very similar.

Jersey is a framework I've used a lot.  It's a great framework for REST and there are lots of benefits to using a REST framework other than URL pattern matching.  The problem is that Google's AppEngine doesn't seem to like Jersey very much.  Oh sure, you can get it working (eventually).  Some people would probably say it's even easy - but it's actually a huge pain in the butt to configure and run the latest version of Jersey on the latest version of AppEngine.

So that brings us to our blog title is there a new way to do the same thing I've been doing for several years now?  Hopefully one that is less painful than trying to get the Jersey framework to function?

Well good news! Apparently Google has a new framework or API called "Cloud EndPoints".  I started playing with them today and so far it's a little frustrating - so I though I'd share some of it with you.  :)

First of all after reading up on the documentation it sounds pretty cool, it looks to lean pretty heavily on Eclipse and the Google Web plugin which is cool - we all love eclipse right?

As you go through the tutorial you see several mentions to the plugin - and then you get to the part where you build a demo application entirely from maven.  That's cool, we like Maven too right? So the tutorial page tells you to issue this maven command:
  1. mvn archetype:generate -Dappengine-version=1.9.6 -Dfilter=com.google.appengine.archetypes:
and that works just fine also.  Well, at least until you import the new project into eclipse so you can code the app.  After you import the project into eclipse you can expect to get several errors about your pom.xml file and your persistence.xml file.

Really?!  What the hell?  This is so unlike Google - things typically just magically work with their frameworks and libraries.

There are about 6 errors in the POM file that all have to do with "Plugin execution not covered by lifecycle configuration" this turns out to be an eclipse or more specifically an M2E plugin (maven 2 eclipse) error.  It has a pretty easy fix here is the documentation on why this error occurs, here is the snippet you need to add to your pom.xml file (it goes inside the tag):

          <ignore />
          <ignore />


Keep in mind this fix is just so that eclipse won't complain about your pom file.  It does not affect your build if you're using Jenkins or building on the command line it is ignored, also to be clear the errors only occur in Eclipse - so it's not really a Google error. 

OK, so now our build is working.  now we have to figure out what's going on with the persistence.xml file - when you look at that file all that is in there is one line:

xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>

Well, that is clearly a problem no xml validator would be happy with that, so add just enough xml to make it happy:

xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<persistence version="2.0" 
    xsi:schemaLocation="http://java.sun.com/xml/ns/persistence http://java.sun.com/xml/ns/persistence/persistence_2_0.xsd">
<persistence-unit name="dataStore">


Keep in mind this is only valid for the XML validation.  Once we get ready to use the data store we will need to fix it the right way.

I'll keep you posted on how the endpoints work out.  It's a tad irritating so far but learning a new way to do something is often frustrating.



1 comment:

Aaron OBrien said...

I think one of the more frustrating things about eclipse is that sometimes you start it up and you get new (seemingly) random errors that weren't there last time you closed it. I would guess that mostly it's do to runtime or plugin updates but regardless Eclipse gets blamed for it.

My pom.xml file started throwing errors again today and I had to add this to it:



to get it happy again.