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From Paul Taylor <>
Subject Re: Where can I store data files in a tomcat war
Date Wed, 02 Jul 2014 10:49:36 GMT

I guess I'm a little confused as to what this means.

I have a simple WAR based web application that uses Lucene created
indexes to provide search results in a xml format.

Especially given the following context:

and supplementary question how do I modify my pom file to do this
with maven

I was under the impression that Paul was building a separate
application using Lucene during the build stage to create the
indexes, but then using an application - specific mechanism to use
those indexes.

> That's what I thought, too.
Yes correct, let me explain it a bit further. I'm trying to deploy an 
application that serves results from a lucene index in response to user 
requests. Deploying it manually to my own server is fine, first of all I 
just copy the index files to a location on the disk, then I deploy my 
application, and within its web.xml I have a servlet parameter that 
defines where the indexes are, so within the servlets init() method i 
initilize the indexes. The problem is that I'm trying to deploy my 
application to Amazon Web Services using autoscaled Elastic Beanstalk, 
this means that the application has to be able to be initilized and 
created based on what is in the war because Elastic Beanstalk will 
automatically start new servers as required due to load and terminate 
those instances when not required.

I do seem to have a solution, but I detail it here because it doesn't 
seem quite right and might be useful to others.

Short Answer:
Originally I first tried putting the index files (unzipped) into the 
src/main/resources folder of my maven project, and referred to the 
WEB-INF/classes/index_dir location in my web.xml and tomcat didn't 
start. It didnt seem right for non Java classes to be in that folder 
anyway so I discarded that idea, however Ive just tried it again locally 
and it worked so if it works on EB that is the solution I'm going to use 
for now unless any better suggestions. It does mean that the resulting 
.war file is rather  large, far too large to upload from my local 
machine but as I build the code and indexes from another AWS EC2 
instance I can just dump it into S3, and deploy from S3 to EB, if I need 
to redeploy you dont seem able to redeploy from S3 but Ive realised that 
when I need to redeploy I would do it to a new EB configuration and then 
swap the dns from EB1 to EB2 to mimimize downtime so that is not really 
a problem.

A supplementary question:
Is there a system property I can use to refer to the WEB-INF as a 
relative directory rather than full path

Long Answer:
Since originally  posting this question I have looked at a few other 
possible solutions but none were satisfactory.

1. Deploy war without indexes but in my servlet init() method write code 
to grab the compressed indexes from S3 and unzip to location specified 
in web.xml. This worked with a single instance EB but unfortunately AWS 
does not wait for the init() method (which takes 20 minutes)  to finish 
before declaring it, and this meant because it was busy unzipping 
indexes and could not serve request it caused AWS monitoring to declare 
it to busy and open another two instances, once all three instances 
finished their init() method they were all up and working , then a few 
minutes two were terminated because not needed. But this means if server 
is genuinely busy the newly started instances will be declared ready by 
AWS but fail to service requests during the init() period. This seems 
like a bug with AWS but not going to change anytime soon.

2. Deploy war without indexes and use AWS .ebextensions files to grab 
and unzip the indexes. This might work but I really dislike having to 
write custom deployment code/configurations as a general rule. And 
because the size of the disk provided by the AWS instance
is limited, unzipping is not so simple. For example instead of creating 
a tar.gz file , I had to gzip the files first and then tar so when 
untarrred I could decompress one file at a time which required less 
temporaray space, this would make the eb code more complex.

3. Create a custom Amazon Image that can be used by EB, this seems 
theoretically possible but quickly got very messy and seemed very much a 

4. Use Docker, AWS now supports the docker framework. This might be a 
good solution  but having spent far too much time on understanding AWS I 
wasnt keen to spen dmore time on yet another framework to solve one problem

>> If the Lucene API is used, then writing a servlet context listener
>> that digs out the initial indexes and places them in
>> in a known subdirectory is probably the way to go. This ensures
>> that even if a WAR file is not exploded, the Lucene DirectoryReader
>> API can get to the files.
> That's precisely what I was suggesting.
So this is what I did with 1> but because of the AWS issue didnt work as 
well as hoped.


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