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From Quintin Beukes <>
Subject Re: Can I make Geronimo work with my own implementation of web server?
Date Mon, 07 Sep 2009 19:21:54 GMT
Well, it is quite tricky doing custom protocols. Though I had a vague
plan on implementing SMTP using the same Connector framework.

The problem with the connector framework is that it revolves around
something like an "Adapter" which works only with stream based
protocols following the "request/response" pattern.

So, if your protocol follows this pattern, then you can use it. Beyond
this the Request/Response classes are pretty generic. They don't yet
have HTTP design in them. For that you have the
HttpRequest/HttpResponse classes.

So what you want to do is completely possible, and proven by the AJP
protocol handler, which is widely used by people wanting to link
tomcat and Apache HTTPD. Though AJP is very "HTTP like", it's not
HTTP. It's a non-text protocol, and only shares similarities with http
because it's meant to be an HTTP reverse proxy protocol, so it
supports the concepts of headers/bodies, and follows the
request/response pattern.

Further. The protocol implementations in Tomcat have what is called
"endpoints", which is the other party in the request IIRC. And with
this class you can do you communication. The protocol handler is very
generic, in having only lifecycle callbacks, and in these you would do
you communicate and construct Request/Response objects, and pass it up
the stack to the engine/service implementations.

So to handle a completely custom protocol in Tomcat you would have to
make your own Connector, with your own extensions of Request/Response,
and then have your Engine/Service implementations that understand
these types. You can even add your own XML tags, very easily. For this
i had to modify the tomcat base, as they have no way to "extend" on
the config file. I did however put the minimal code in the tomcat
base, which accepted an interface and did callbacks to my library for
the XML parsing. I for instance had the following <Service> tag (just
to give an idea about the Engine/Service implementation and the custom

  <Service name="NineLives" className="mypackage.tomcat.NLService">
    <Executor name="ninelivesThreadPool" namePrefix="ninelives-exec-"
maxThreads="150" minSpareThreads="4"/>

    <Connector executor="ninelivesThreadPool"
        port="80" protocol="org.apache.coyote.http11.Http11NioProtocol"
        connectionTimeout="20000" />

    <Engine name="NineLives" defaultHost="ninelives.status"
      <LoadBalancer protocol="HTTP/1.1"
        <BackendNode commonName="backend1" hostname=""
port="8580" alive="true"/>
        <BackendNode commonName="backend2" hostname=""
port="8580" alive="true"/>

      <Host name="ninelives.status" appBase="webapps"
          unpackWARs="false" autoDeploy="true"
          xmlValidation="false" xmlNamespaceAware="false">

As you can see I used HTTP, and thus didn't have my own protocol
handler. But the <LoadBalancer> does have a protocol specification,
which I would change to SMTP at a later time when linking my own
connector. IIRC correctly the protocol option could be used to link
back to a Connector so each load balancer would only handle requests
from the appropriate connectors.

I know this has nothing to do with Geronimo, or with your application.
I just figured giving you some information on what I did might help
clear up how you would do these things in Tomcat.

After having written this I built up tremendous respect for Tomcat. If
you have a look at the request stack, you would notice Tomcat has
minimal overhead. It does very little in between receiving the request
and handing it to the servlet. And it's extensible design allows you
to completely customize next to anything in it's behaviour, while
still having the benefit of it's thread pools and optimized
request/response handling. I would definitely recommend using it. It's
not easy to write your own protocol handlers. There is too many things
to do if you want something that works well under all kinds of
situations, esp. the "high load" situation, where Tomcat keeps up
quite well.

When I was researching the design of my load balanced, I did some
benchmarks between some OSS Java proxies/servlet/HTTP
containers/implementations. Of these, Tomcat was able to keep it's
request times quite stable under high loads, where jetty started to
have a very hard time keeping up. So it just shows that if you had to
build on top of a Tomcat, not only do you benefit from a lot of
existing features with years of maturity, but also from a high
performance design, able to take the punch. It's actually these
benchmarks that inspired the name for my application, ie. NineLives.
The word "cat" in Tomcat, together with it's "survival" ability, and
the "nine lives of a cat", I though of NineLives.

So in my very critical/harsh research, I have to admit I started with
a little bit of a negative attitude towards Tomcat, hoping Jetty would
win. In the end Tomcat really made an impression on me.

So all in all. What you would do should be possible, depending on the
nature of the protocol you wish to implement. And if it's possible,
you should seriously consider Tomcat over Jetty or your complete own


On Mon, Sep 7, 2009 at 2:16 PM, sim085 <> wrote:
> Quintin Beukes-2 wrote:
>> Are you referring to the connector framework of Tomcat? Frankly I
>> don't see how you can't do what you want with Geronimo+Tomcat.
> Hi Quintin,
> That is what I tried to do a few months ago. What I tried to do is build my
> own custom protocol handler within Tomcat itself. However the problem I
> faced here was that the CoyoteAdapter class provided by tomcat handled all
> request objects as HttpRequests. I had started a thread about this on the
> Tomcat Nabble Forum here:
> (the last
> entry). On that thread no one answered if I could create my own adapter and
> if I could configure Tomcat to use this adapter together with the
> CoyoteAdapter it already has.
> Unfortunately that has been some time ago and what was clear back then is a
> little bit foggy now. However I am more then happy to check the code again
> and try to understand it should it be necessary.
> --
> View this message in context:
> Sent from the Apache Geronimo - Users mailing list archive at

Quintin Beukes

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