Puakma: Under the hood

I'm Brendon Upson, jack-of-all-trades, master of one or two. I'm talking about life running a small ISV tackling business issues and leaping technology hurdles in a single bound.

webWise Network Consultants is based in Sydney, Australia and develops the groundbreaking Tornado Server technology.

IDE

More power!

Filed under: by Brendon Upson on 2005-12-20

Build 317 of the IDE was released today. This has some cool functionality for favourites (a short list of apps you regularly work on) and just gets better with every release. The client project I am working on at the moment sees me using the IDE every day and giving it a fair kick. I can say with a high degree of certainty it works great! I find I am resorting to the webdesign app less and less wich is a good thing. We'll continue to support webdesign.pma though as it's still very useful for those times when you have to take a look at the design collection and you don't have your monster Eclipse installation with you.

We're continuing to power on with the redesign of puakma.net. It's always a struggle when you've got a high customer workload on AND you're trying to continue to move forward as fast as possible.

I read something the other day saying the popularity of Java is dropping in favour of scripting languages such as PHP. I squarely blame the myriad of confusing acronyms and Sun's repeated attemps to further confuse the development community. Tornado is a major effort to reduce that confusion and move to using vanilla Java.

2006: The year Tornado Server comes of age.

Farther into the Vortex

Filed under: by Brendon Upson on 2005-05-24

Last night I installed the latest version of the Puakma Vortex IDE. Wow. There are still some corners to round off and bugs to squash but a real beta release should be here very soon. Thanks to Martin Novak for his great work in getting the IDE to where it is now.

Up to now I have been creating web apps using a mixture of tools and process which can best be described as clunky. Netbeans for java coding, Xcode for text/xml/js/css editing webdesign app for adjusting app properties and creating new design elements and a client-side java app for automatically uploading design changes into the web app. It's complicated but when you get used to it, it's OK. All that changes now. The Vortex IDE is the one stop shop for all web app development. Click around inside one application and as if by magic the design changes are sent by web services to the Tornado Server. My estimate is a time saving of around 20%. That's not insignificant. Our goal to be the fastest web development platform is very near.

So what corners need rounding off? From my first look these are the big ones:

  • The initial connection dialog has a few bugs when you try to set up connections to multiple Tornado servers.
  • When you first compile a java class it does not get uploaded, you have to compile twice the first time.
  • The libraries/classes section of the app is confusing
  • An easy fast way of opening the action code from the page design element

Martin is now on holidays travelling throughout the US on a monster road trip. When he gets back there'll be a feature freeze and a move to get the first real beta out. Take a test drive here http://www.puakma.net/ide

Side note: Puakma Tornado Server 3.17 was released today. This has a HUGE number of fixes and enhancements. Grab a copy now ;-)

Vortex 2

Filed under: by Brendon Upson on 2005-05-10

One thing is apparent, I believe the Eclipse platform was an excellent choice for IDE. The features and flexibility it provides are excellent. Shame about the API. We'll conquer it though!

One thing I have noticed about a lot of Java software is the over complication of a lot of it. There seems to be a tendency to be all things to all people. We're different we have a simple API that's about getting the job done.

I remember a long while back having some issues parsing multipart-mime uploads from the browser. The code I had written was simplistic and broke in some circumstances. Puzzled at what I should be doing I took a look at some code from the Apache Jakarta site. Holy cow! There were half a dozen or more classes all working together in an incredible complex and confusing manner to do what seemed like a simple job. Quickly that idea was discarded and I ended up rewriting my logic in two method calls. I guess that's how we can fit an entire application server into a 450Kb jar file ;-)

Eclipse seems to abstract abstractions til your eyes water, while building factories to make factories to make factories. And let's not forget the delegates and adaptors.

It really is no surprise that the average developer is completely firghtened by Java. These convoluted APIs are strangling the language. I suppose this is why J2EE strikes fear into the hearts of many a mortal. It's like giving a builder bricks to make a house. Sure you can get the job done and you have infinite flexibility, but what if you gave the same builder walls. doors, windows etc instead? The end result is a house built in a fraction of the time with predictable results. This is what Puakma is all about: doing the grunt work for the programmer.

Into the Vortex

Filed under: by Brendon Upson on 2005-05-09

Today I have officially starting looking into development for the Eclipse platform (that is: me writing eclipse code). We already have an Eclipse based IDE (called Vortex) underway but my instinct tells me this is where the focus of our real "visible" innovation will occur. Up to now we have built something no-one can actually see which really is quite terrible for demos! We can explain and espouse the greatness of this thing we call Puakma Tornado Server until we're blue in the face, but nothing works as well as a GUI based example. Understanding the capabilities of the Eclipse platform is integral to shaping the future of our products.

As my "training application" I am playing with an administration application. This will be very simple to begin with allowing the monitoring of one or more servers, viewing the logs and executing console commands.

All communications between the eclipse client and the server is SOAP over HTTP. This means the admins and developers will be able to monitor and interact with servers of standard HTTP ports and through firewalls. Small ISVs will be able to maintain their customer's servers and applications from anywhere. No more opening obscure ports on the firewall and needing console access to the server. If you need some security, just wrap it in SSL. Too easy!

We will still be supporting the browser-based admin and webdesign applications for those times where you don't have the Vortex IDE handy.

Summary: The learning curve for plugin development is steep. My head hurts.