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From Miles Elam <>
Subject Re: [OT] Re: Sitemap woes and semantic linking
Date Fri, 13 Dec 2002 17:00:30 GMT
As a footnote to this thread, let me briefly describe what my group has 
done with Cocoon.

Tomcat with Cocoon and no Apache HTTPd.  It's a Linux box with TUX that 
handles the static content on the filesystem far faster than Apache, and 
it has Tomcat/Cocoon on the backend doing the "real" work.

We *needed* Cocoon both for its pipelines and for its sitemap (URI 
mapping).  Cocoon was a no-brainer.  Nothing else comes close.  Then we 
looked at servlet containers.  Tomcat just happened to be what we're 
used to.  The great thing about containers is that they can be swapped. 
 I'm still out looking for a 1.4/nio-based HTTP handler with the ability 
to disable Keep-Alives (I'll explain later...).  Then there's WebDAV as 
we need to add/update content.  This is still a work in progress for us, 
but Slide seems to fit our needs well.  If bandwidth becomes a bigger 
issue than CPU, we can uncomment the line in our web.xml file that 
handles gzip encoding.

We looked briefly at how to get Apache HTTPd working with our setup 
months ago.  Then we looked at our requirements.  The only thing we 
needed Apache for was fast serving of static content -- which TUX does 
better.  All dynamic content is served from Tomcat/Cocoon.

When we looked closely, we found that Cocoon would simply be slower 
without help from an external, static processor.  We also found that 
Apache HTTPd, as robust and mature it is, lacks significant 
functionality that we find readily available in Cocoon.  When it comes 
down to it, a gzip filter replaces mod_gzip, the PHP generator (which we 
don't use anyway) replaces mod_php, the JSP generator has no analogue 
without mod_jk (or equivalent), mod_rewrite is redundant with the Cocoon 
sitemap, and on and on.

Hmmm...  Now that I think of it, there's no equivalent of mod_speling in 

But to echo what seems to be an undercurrent, is Apache HTTPd becoming 
redundant?  If speed is your primary concern, wouldn't a few Squid 
servers in front of Tomcat/Cocoon make any speed gains from Apache flat 
file serving get lost in the noise?


The hardest thing about getting our site up was making it fully 
standards-compliant and choosing good URIs.  If I had only used Apache 
(or IIS or iPlanet or just Tomcat), we may have launched faster; 
 However, that would only be because the correct solution would have 
been impossible without Cocoon.

Yeah, you could call me a Cocoon cheerleader.  We still have a great 
deal of work to do, but the URL is  For all 
intents and purposes, it doesn't use Cocoon;  It is completely run by 
and controlled by Cocoon.  TUX is just window dressing -- just a flat 
file accelerator.

What I begin to wonder is whether Apache HTTPd is truly the most useful 
and flexible architecture for new websites (not already existing sites 
of course).


Cocoon is the reason why I want to help with Forrest.  It is one of the 
only ways I can think of to say thank you for all of the hard work.  So 
far, I've added Nicola's Krysalis layout (imitation as the sincerest 
form of flattery and all of that) as a CSS skin to the existing XHTML 
mockup from before.  It's got a banner size issue with font-resizing and 
the lists aren't handled correctly, but it's a start.  Once finals are 
over (end of next week), I will try to continue the skin work I started 
a couple of months ago.

- Miles

P.S.  Nicola: Your layout is very elegant.  It reminds me that I am 
basically a web code monkey and not a graphic designer by a long shot. 
 If you can dream the layout up, I can probably retool it for CSS.

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