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From "Tim Williams" <>
Subject Re: [RT] A new Forrest implementation?
Date Mon, 13 Nov 2006 19:19:36 GMT
On 11/13/06, Ross Gardler <> wrote:
> Ross Gardler wrote:
> > This is a Random Thought. The ideas contained within are not fully
> > developed and are bound to have lots of holes. The idea is to promote
> > healthy discussion, so please, everyone, dive in and discuss.
> >
> > The Problem
> > ===========
> >
> > Forrest is built on Cocoon, a web application framework, but "all" it
> > does is XML publishing. This means we have a monolithic web application
> > framework that is doing nothing more than managing a processing pipeline
> > and doing XSLT transformations.
> There was a fair amount of discussion around this, with very little
> agreement but plenty of constructive ideas. During the course of
> discussions I promised to put together a basic implementation of what I
> perceive to be Forrest 2.0
> I knocked something together a couple of days later. This was very
> basic, but did what I needed it to do. Since then I have been intending
> to find the time to finish it off and create more examples.
> Unfortunately, I have been unable to find that time.
> The main blocker right now is that it currently does what *I* need it
> to do, but to be useful in the wider community it needs to do much more
> (see below).
> The second blocker is that I've been waiting for Forrest 0.8 to reach a
> release state, however, it seems Forrest is in a slow period, perhaps
> waiting is the wrong thing to do?
> So, since I now need to do more work on this code I thought I'd see if
> there is any interest in the work within the Forrest Community. Note,
> I'm keeping the Random Thoughts thread, this is a radical change in many
> things that Forrest does and should only be considered as a discussion
> point. I'm not asking the Forrest team to endorse this code (although
> would welcome such endorsement). I'm really asking if the Forrest team
> would like to see the work as it progresses in the whiteboard (I will
> not be using Forrest 0.8 on this project, for all the reasons described
> in this RT).
> Copied below is the first part of the readme for this code...
> --------------------
> Start of copied text
> --------------------
> NOTE: this document is written as though this is approved as a Forrest 2
> implementation, however, it is important to recognise that this is only
> an experiment at this time. This code is not currently adopted by the
> Apache Forrest project and is not available via any public distribution
> mechanism at this time.
> Forrest 2.0
> ===========
> Forrest2 is a complete rewrite of the XML publishing framework Apache
> Forrest.
> It draws on the lessons learned during development and use of earlier
> versions of Forrest, but it takes the opportunity to simplify
> implementation and use wherever possible.
> Forrest2 is no longer built upon Apache Cocoon, it is a plain Java
> application.
> This may prompt you to ask "does this mean we lose the power of the
> Apache Cocoon framework?" The answer to that question is an emphatic no.
> You see, Apache Cocoon can still be used by Forrest, but you are no
> longer tied to it as was the case with earlier versions of Forrest.
> Breaking away from Cocoon means that embedding Forrest2 in another
> application is much easier. In fact, since the new Forrest can be
> packaged as a Cocoon generator it is, ironically enough, easier to use
> in another Cocoon application than the original Forrest was. At the same
> time it is easier to embed Forrest in any other type of application.
> The core of Forrest 2 is only a few megabytes in size (and can doubtless
> be trimmed even further with work). This compares very favorably with
> 40Mb+ for Cocoon based versions of Forrest.
> Furthermore, the removal of Cocoon as the core framework means that
> extending Forrest no longer requires an understanding of Cocoon, in
> fact, Forrest2 can be extended very easily with just about any
> technology (including Cocoon). It is now possible to extend Forrest in
> any way you desire, all you need to do is expose your services via a
> REST style API or a Java API.
> Of course, it's easier to use too...
> ---------------
> End copied text
> ---------------
> [At this point the readme goes on to describe some *simple* use cases
> that illustrate the use of Forest Core and some example plugins - if it
> helps or anyone wants it I'll post the full readme]
> This code is very incomplete when compared to Forrest 0.8. It needs
> quite a bit of work, but I believe it provides a means to address all
> the problems I identified in this RT. Of course, it does not address
> documentation issues raised, in fact it would make most of our current
> docs obsolete!
> It is also worth noting that many of the "grand claims" in the above
> readme snippet are theoretical only. At this time Forrest2 provides:
> - a Spring IoC framework for connecting XML processing plugins
> - a few simple examples of input plugins
> - a couple of output plugin examples
> - a basic locationmap implementation
> - a live commercial app that uses a number of input plugins to handle a
> number of proprietary XML formats (i.e. it works in real life too)
> - a webapp for dynamic creation of documents
> What it doesn't implement yet:
> - effective caching
> - "useful" aggregation (it does implement aggregation but it is not
> flexible enough to be of any real use outside our current use case)
> - streaming of processing pipeline data
> - static site generation (just needs a crawler)
> - pattern matching in the locationmap (need to put RE evaluation in
> there - currently just does string matching)
> - a Cocoon generator as suggested in this RT (should be really simple
> for anyone who needs it, there is a servlet showing how to use the Java API)
> - view processing (i.e. it doesn't generate complete web pages, this is,
> in my opinion, outside the scope of Forrest core. Currently we have a
> Wicket application that creates the view, but the creation of a Cocoon
> generator would open up many possibilities to make existing Forrest devs
> comfortable)
> What are the main benefits over current Forrest?
> - see read me intro above (i.e. embedding forrest and size)
> - much simpler configuration (all done in the Spring config files)
> - minimal XML "programming" (i.e. no complex sitemap to define
> processing paths - this needs exploration and discussion)
> - a hell of a lot faster (although this is anecdotal rather than measured)
> When discussing this implementation move in the past I have felt
> considerable resistance to these implementation ideas. This may have
> been my inability to describe things clearly (the code will help here)
> but it may have been because people do not have the need for the
> improvements this brings and therefore don't want to take such a radical
> step.
> So, shall I conduct this work in whiteboard? Do you have more questions
> first? Would putting it in whiteboard be harmful to Apache Forrest 0.8?

I think we're in a bit of a catch-22 here.  I personally haven't been
able to fully appreciate what you're talking about until I see the
code, but I'm also not willing to commit to anything (not that you're
asking) until I fully understand what you're talking about.

Anyway, I'd like to see it in the whiteboard if for no other reason
than to have something concrete to frame this continued discussion
around.  I think it won't harm 0.8 at all.


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