Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A quick note about JAXB

JAXB (the Java API for XML Binding) is a great piece of technology (2.x, not 1.x). However, if you're starting an application and your JAXBContext is throwing an exception saying that it's unaware of a given class, there's a quick fix. At this point, I'm guessing you've configured your JAXB context to use a package, and the class that the JAXBContext is unaware of is in the given package, and you're scratching your head as to why it can't seem to find a class that's in the proper package. Well, here's the most probable answer : if you're using package-configured JAXBContexts, you need to have factory methods for all top level elements, similar to the following :

* Create an instance of {@link PurchaseOrder }
public PurchaseOrder createPurchaseOrder() {
return new PurchaseOrder();

... assuming that mypackage.PurchaseOrder is the class the JAXBContext is complaining that it's unaware of. This little quirk took me a couple hours to debug because I had just regenerated some web services code using Apache CXF 2.1.1 from an updated WSDL document for an updated Web Service that our company uses. Little did I know, that in comparing the two ObjectFactory files in Eclipse, I had missed copying over certain important functions. Hopefully this helps you.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Pure FTP on Ubuntu

Pure FTP is a great FTP server and I love it because it's ridiculously fast, reliable and works well for our company. The only problem is that it's tricky to configure on Ubuntu because just like with numerous other programs, the people at Ubuntu, in their infinite wisdom, felt the need to fuck with the program's default way of doing things. Specifically, in Ubuntu, command line arguments for starting the FTP service are done through individual files for each command line option you want the service to be started with, with values for the options placed inside each of the files. This is a stupid way of doing things, but that's not the topic of this post.

The problem I've been having lately is that I recently deployed new projects within our production network, and these new projects required access to the FTP server, and aren't on the same box as the server, as is the sole other project that has been using the FTP server. I'd been getting problems trying to connect to the server from any LAN box, but not any external boxes nor the machine itself (localhost). The error I got back was "421 Service not available". I googled around for hours and found nothing useful, until I started realizing that other people were getting 421 errors when their PureFTP instance was misconfigured, but with different messages, and then it got me thinking that maybe my instance was somehow misconfigured.

I re-read the documentation for PureFTP and after an hour or so, it hit me that the server does reverse lookups to resolve fully qualified names, and such resolution doesn't work properly on our network (for good reasons that I'm not going to go into). After disabling reverse DNS resolution with the -H startup option (`echo "yes" >> DontResolve` in the configuration directory in Ubuntu), the problem went away.

I hope this helps anybody else who runs into the same problem.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

More Tomcat quirks

I recently ran across a problem with receiving a LinkageError in one of my web applications. The problem occurred when Acegi security tried to use libraries that were not yet loaded and tried to load them itself. Strangely, the error only occurred while using my RESTful API with a Spring Framework controller. If I logged in through my web interface which uses Acegi and Spring MVC, then the linkage error didn't occur.

After numerous hours of Googling around, I found a small company's JIRA issue tracker that reported the same bug, but also that it only occurred when using the security manager. After disabling the security manager on my own Tomcat instance, I found that the problem went away. I'd very much like to have a better resolution, but it's going to have to do for the time being.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Tomcat quirks

In recent weeks, we've had problems with our company's servers going down because of power problems at our colocation provider. As a result, the fact that Tomcat hadn't been properly configured to boot at startup had really burned us. Consequentially, I've been spending the past few days troubleshooting why the servers wouldn't startup, and ensuring that they do come up properly at boot time in future. The following are some of the things I've run across.

  • The JAVA_HOME and JRE_HOME variables must be set. If they're not, then Tomcat won't start, at least on Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon Server. This is a problem I encountered with the default installation of JIRA on one of our production servers.

  • When using EhCache with Hibernate, the tmp directories don't get deleted, regardless of whether or not Tomcat is shutdown properly. This will block the container from starting up again, so these temp files must be deleted. I encountered this problem with my own applications.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Finally! The trick to proper Java Date and Calendar formatting

It's well documented in the Java API as well as numerous forums and blogs, that the Java API is not properly implemented, and in some respects flat out broken, hence why Java 7 is going to have a brand spanking new Date/Time API based on the Joda Time library hosted at In implementing Dates / TimeZones in Java, the developers of Java saw fit to separate time zones from date implementations because, really, a date is just a number of milliseconds from Jan 1, 1970 at 00:00:00.000 GMT in the morning. This is a noble goal which I whole heartedly agree with : dates should be represented separately from their timezones because the printed representation of a date will change depending on time zone, whereas no matter where you are in the world, the number of milliseconds from the Epoch has not changed. However, the Java developers implemented this concept poorly. They chose to attach TimeZones to Calendars and then not have them affect any of the time fields, which is fine. But the TimeZone attached to a calendar is not used when using a DateFormat directly. Here's the key : the DateFormat object uses its own internal TimeZone during formatting (which it takes from the currently running JVM) by default. In order to format using the TimeZone attached to a Calendar, you have to explicitly set the TimeZone of the DateFormat to that of the Calendar instance you want to format.