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A different kind of software wear and tear

Well, most software undergo normal wear and tear, mostly due to bugs uncovered, changing environment and shifting user requirements, and hence need maintenance. However, use of the Internet as the development platform is giving rise to another kind of software wear and tear -- something that I experienced first-hand yesterday.

I was (am!) looking for an opensource, medium sized, medium complexity Java/J2EE application to try out certain manageability experiments. Having used JBoss in my last project, I thought I should pick a JBoss sample application (access to link requires free registration). This example is not really very specific to JBoss -- the JBoss folks started with the Sun's J2EE Tutorial example Duke's Bank Application, and wrote JBoss specific stuff. As per the documentation, you are supposed to download the base code from J2EE tutorial site and JBoss specific stuff from JBoss site.

This is actually very smart. You build upon whatever is already there! As any site is just a click away on the Internet, it shouldn't matter whether the develope downloads everything from one site or two different sites, especially those who play with opensource software. (Though, in this particular case, I suspect that the real reason may be the licensing terms of the application source files, though I don't know this for sure!) Of course, there is always a little danger that the other site or the specific content will go away, making your stuff unusable. Though in practice this rarely happens, at least in the short term (which may be adequate given the longevity of most software releases) and with brand name sites and projects.

In any case, I followed the link from JBoss Getting Started guide to base application download page. Thankfully, both the page and the download links were there. However, there were three different versions -- Update_2, Update_4 and Update_6! And the JBoss guide wasn't specific on the version. Based on the release dates, I first tried Update_4. Didn't work. Then I tried Update_2. Even this didn't work.

Having spent more than half a day, I headed to JBoss forums and found that many people were facing similar problems.

I suspect that JBoss specific code was written for a specific base application, which is no longer available for download. In other words, Duke's Bank Application for JBoss has undergone wear and tear and needs maintenance.

Note added on Jan 5, 2006:

I received the following message as an email (perhaps because I have comments disabled due to comment spam) from a happy user of JBoss.

Hi Pankaj,

In contrast to your experiments reported in you blog,
I downloaded all last versions of the different required software
and I got all steps of the J2EE tutorial bank example working fine with JBoss (and its additional files)
under Windows XP SP2:
I even added security parameters for the 201 customer and got access to his transactions through the WEB app.

The unique ant build file is very convenient.
They used the same apporach for the MOM system Joram (used in JBoss) which is alos a great software.

Really, JBoss is a very powerfull and *easy* to install product!

p.s.: I was unable to post any comment to your blog.

Best regards,
Patrice (Unversity Professor in Computer Science, France).

My response: Nice to know that JBoss has taken this seriously and fixed the problem.


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