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From Grzegorz Kossakowski <>
Subject HttpServletRequest vs o.a.c.e.Request saga continues
Date Wed, 25 Jul 2007 16:43:06 GMT
Hi guys,

============ Background ============

My recent commit r559394[1] broke Cocoon again. More specifically, you will get

   java.lang.NoClassDefFoundError: org/apache/commons/beanutils/ConvertUtils

or JXPath's error that it can't find org.apache.cocoon.forms.generation.JXMacrosHelper.createHelper
function. This error has been 
mentioned[2] by Reinhard long time ago and Daniel gave  response[3]:

   You are only supposed to have direct access to java.*, IIUC, packages
   from FOM for other packages you must have a "Package." prefix, i.e.

   This is the behaviour that is implemented in

So I thought that I messed some initialization and wasted handful amount of time to track
down the problem. I was wrong. JXPath uses it's 
default set of functions if none is registered (and it *is* the case, so Daniel's response
was completely misleading) that gives access to 
all Java classes. The error I'm getting is because of createHelper signature:

   public static JXMacrosHelper createHelper(XMLConsumer consumer, Request request, String

It expects o.a.c.e.Request but after applying[1] object model contains HttpServletRequest
thus JXPath's evaluation fails.

============ Possible solutions ============

The half of the work is already done - we know why it is broken, now I would like to discuss
with you possible fixes. We have three distinct 
1. Store o.a.c.e.Request implementation in Object Model and provide wrappers that would be
manually created in places where needed. 
HttpRequest (which is only implementation of Request interface that we can consider) wraps
HttpServletRequest. It means we could have 
several wrapping levels. *Messy* to my taste.

2. Make a o.a.c.e.Request interface extend HttpServletRequest interface. That would be a solution,
because we could store such 
implementation in Object Model as HttpServletRequest and cast where its needed to o.a.c.e.Request
(JXPath would do it automatically for us). 
Such solution was mentioned several times before, like here[4] by Carsten. I haven't evaluated
this option much. Does it still makes sense, 
what about concerns raised by Carsten? Are there any other?

3. Forget about back compatibility and clean up the mess, start switching to HttpServletRequest
*right away*. In most cases the changes 
would be trivial (changing imports in various classes). Of course I don't want to get rid
of Cocoon's Request interface everywhere at once 
because it's not in scope of my GSoC work. I only want to get rid of it where it's needed.

Ok, you guessed it I prefer third option. I've performed already incompatible changes like
Ajax and Forms migration to servlet-service-fw[5] 
and provided quite good migration guides like[6]. People were happy with it... I think that
the key was they clearly knew what to do with 
their applications in order to get back them to usable state. Isn't it a case, Felix?

I could provide such guide for incompatible changes if they occurred. After playing with Cocoon's
internals for some time I think that there 
is no way that I can improve something significantly and stay 100% back-compliant because
current functionality relies on hacks, plumbing, 
bungs and other weird things. Undoubtedly, we are approaching to my sermonizing.

============ Sermonizing ============

I must confess that I'm fed up with Cocoon's internals.

Cocoon's internal are fucking crazy.

Sorry for strong words but I must give vent to my emotions. Now more matter-of-fact arguments:

   *  We have two different request objects original servlet's one and our own one. The problems
that this situation causes has been 
discussed above.

   *  We have at least four different object models!
        a) objectModel map that is passed to components
        b) FlowscriptObjectModel
        c) TemplateObjectModel (if template was called by flowscript)
        d) TemplateObjectModel (if template wasn't called by flowscript)

      Items c) and d) do not differ only in data user puts while calling sendPage, it would
be too obvious. It differs in some internal, 
obscure areas so some functionality working in template called from flowscript (like constructing
new objects) will not work if you just 
call it out of flow execution scope.

   *  Have you been aware of "this" variable in object model? (argh need to be specific, in
object model available in template). Take a look 
at this:

       <jx:set var="cformsDummy" value="${cformsHelper.generateRepeaterWidgetLabel(widget,
id, this['widget-id'])}"/> (from jx-macros.xml)

      I guess that it's the only place that is used, it was implemented in bug-possibly way
(don't want to bore you with details) and was 
not covered by tests nor documented ANYWHERE.

This lists could be much longer. This lists make me sick because it was never as much painful
to develop something Cocoon-related as this 
GSoC work. I was prepared to some obstacles, world is not perfect, I knew that our internals
are far from perfection. Now I know that they 
are fucking crazy, period.



Grzegorz Kossakowski

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