Gotta love open source and github

The Problem

I have been working on this project to make our app run in any Java Container. Currently we run in JBoss, but ideally I would like the app to work in JBoss or Tomcat, or TomEE or Wildfly. One of the challenges in making this change is to remove JBoss specific dependencies from our app and pull those libs into the webapp as part of our project. We did the first piece of this a couple of years ago when we stopped using JBoss’ version of Hibernate and pulled a newer version into our app. We have since upgraded JBoss versions so this is somewhat moot since the bundled version and our version are the same, but it is one less thing that I will have to deal with as part of this project.

The first part that I have decided to tackle is not using JBoss’ built in transaction manager and instead bundling one. Looking around it seems like my choices are Atomikos, Bitronix, or JBossTM in standalone mode. Our situation is somewhat more complicated based on the fact that we are not running an XA jdbc driver. Originally the company was using one, but at some point ripped it out because Microsoft SQLServer wouldn’t work correctly or scale with it in there. We are aware of the limitations of not running in XA mode.

Bitronix

That alone rules out Bitronix as they pretty much require XA to do their thing. I had also sort of ruled them out given that the commercial company behind them ceased operating some time ago, and ideally we want to be in a position to pay a company for support. I will say one nice thing about Bitronix is it does have good Spring Boot support.

Atomikos

Atomikos does have a paid supported version if we found we needed it down the line and they have support for a Non XA datasource. Another thing Atomikos has going for it, is that we are already using it for our persistence unit tests, though not with the NonXADataSourceBean but rather with Apache Commons DBCP. I switched over to the NonXADataSourceBean version and most of the unit tests seemed to work which was promising.

JBossTM aka Narayana

At the end of the day though my thinking was the lowest risk solution would be to use JBossTM in standalone mode. Given that we are already using JBoss’ built in version of it this seems to be the least amount of change we can do. The first challenge is actually finding anything out about the project. Just searching JbossTM or JBoss Transactions doesn’t find much for you. I eventually discovered it is called Narayana. Ignore the horribly designed website, I just found that tonight, I originally found it on the JBoss home pages and on github. JBoss has a quickstarts example github repository showing you how to use their stuff as well. The Spring example was sort of what I wanted, but not exactly so I figured why not just do a quick Spring Boot app as a proof of concept. So I forked the repository and added a Spring Boot app. I hit a problem though, I created a unit test to try out reverts my insert wasn’t reverting on a Runtime exception. Just to make sure I wasn’t completely crazy I created a quick Spring Boot app doing the same thing using Atomikos. That test app worked perfectly.

At this point I feared I would be forced into switching to Atomikos as that was all that I could prove was working with a trivial test. I went over to the JBoss forums as a last ditch effort and posted a question about it. Back in the day when I would post things to forums I would often get very little response or things would be vague cause it is hard sometimes on the other side of a forum to be clear what a person is asking about. In this case I could just include the links to the two github repositories as examples of what I was trying to do. I posted it and didn’t hear anything back on the day. The next morning I woke up and saw that at 3am a Redhat Engineer in China had forked my project and provided a fix. Immediately I could see what I was missing and he made my test pass right away. Back in the day I probably would have given up and just gone Atomikos, but with github it is so easy to share sample code of what you are trying to do and Spring boot makes it so fast to stand up a sample app there is really no reason not to do so anymore.

 One more note while I was working on this experiment in testing how to configure different JTA managers the Narayana guys submitted code to Spring Boot 1.4 Milestone 2 to include a Narayana Quickstarter so now it will be possible to easily wire that into a Spring Boot app. I know I talk about the greatness of Spring Boot all the time, but once again it saved me a ton of time by allowing me to prototype out a few options before I go too far down the road of solving the problem, and with github allowing me to collaborate with people around the world, we truly live in some amazing times.