ColdFusion Developer Week 2012

Adobe's second ColdFusion Developer Week kicks off today, June 4, and continues through Friday, June 8, 2012. Whether you're a new or experienced CFML developer, there's probably more than one session you'll find very interesting and useful. From basics to advanced language features, as well as frameworks and a focus on the new ColdFusion 10 release, there's just loads of good stuff, all provided via free online Webinars.

Check out the sessions and schedule, and sign up.

Like last year, I'll be presenting Improve Your Apps Through Unit Testing, tomorrow.

I also hope to revive this sleepy blog with some more interesting tid-bits soon, so stay tuned! It's been a busy year, but I've queued a number of topics for blog posts, so hopefully I can catch up a little in the near future.

Railo JARs on JBoss (or Tomcat) - Tips and Tricks

As a follow up to a previous related post, I wanted to share a couple potentially helpful tricks that I've since learned. Everything I document here has been tested with both Railo 3.0.2.004 (current stable) and Railo 3.1.0.012 (current beta), both of which can be downloaded from here, on JBoss Application Server (AS) 4.2.3.GA.

The purpose (as I see it) of a Railo JARs installation is to provide an alternative to using a full-blown Railo WAR for each of your Railo CFML applications. This allows you to define your Railo CFML servlet "globally" in JBoss/Tomcat and then use virtual hosts for multiple CFML apps. Each CFML app is then leveraging the same Railo instance, one copy of the jars and one Railo server admin (but still multiple Web contexts with unique Railo Web Admin for each Web site/context).

Also keep in mind that JBoss AS leverages Tomcat as its Web server, so just about everything here should directly translate. Here are the locations of key configuration files and directories in both JBoss 4.2 and Apache Tomcat 6:

{JBOSS_HOME}/lib/ {JBOSS_HOME}/server/default/lib/
or
{TOMCAT_HOME}/lib/

{JBOSS_HOME}/server/default/deploy/jboss-web.deployer/conf/web.xml
or
{TOMCAT_HOME}/conf/web.xml

{JBOSS_HOME}/server/default/deploy/jboss-web.deployer/server.xml
or
{TOMCAT_HOME}/conf/server.xml

Quick Review of Railo JARs Install on JBoss/Tomcat

I will first give a very brief outline of the steps required to install Railo (jars) on JBoss/Tomcat here. There are, however, some potential problems with this configuration, which I'll outline below, with a solution/workaround for each.

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Railo 3.0 on JBoss AS 4.2 via Apache 2.2 with Root Context and No Proxy

So I wanted to take a good look at the Railo 3.0 CFML engine and see what all the buzz was about. I wanted to be sure I could replicate the same basic Apache virtual host configurations I've been using with my ColdFusion 8 multi-server configuration. I also decided to try to get this all working with the JBoss Application Server. This entry summarizes the battle that was eventually won...

Choosing An Application Server

After a great deal of reading comparisons and opinions regarding Resin, Tomcat and JBoss Application Server (also with/without Apache), I decided I wanted to shoot for running the Railo CFML engine on the JBoss Application Server. There was plenty of good press and lots of die hard proponents for each of these application server options, so I don't feel there's a wrong decision and recommend you decide for yourself. For me, I just liked the robustness of JBoss and the full-featured community edition (Resin, for example, only provides a lot of its full-featured options in the paid licenses).

Basic Railo Installation/Deployment (EAR/WAR)

I'll leave out a lot of the lower level details of my installations, because there are plenty of Railo installation guides out there already (and probably growing). I must, however, mention that a lot of Gary Gilbert's Railo posts were particularly useful in my learning experience.

Using the aforementioned guides I was able to get JBoss AS installed and then deployed Railo 3.0 as a WAR and then also tried the EAR deployment alternative. I was not able to deploy Railo 3.0.2.001 on JBoss AS 5.0.1.GA, but all deployments worked fine for me on JBoss AS 4.2.3.GA. I've noticed other folks comment on being able to deploy Railo on JBoss 5 on Ubuntu 8.04, which is my development OS, but I was not successful. The errors I received appeared to be known JBoss 5 bugs, but who knows!

Adding Apache HTTPD to the Stack

After getting Railo 3.0 running on JBoss 4.2, I then wanted to integrate Apache 2.2, which was relatively straightforward using the mod_jk module for Apache HTTPD (again, this stuff is already well documented). At this point, however, I could either have only one Railo Web root and/or needed to use specific context paths for each Web site/context (e.g., http://localost/app1-context, http://localhost/app2-context, etc.).

Railo on JBoss via Apache, as I really wanted it to be

I then wanted to be able to run multiple Apache virtual hosts as multiple Railo web contexts on the same instance of Railo, but without needing a unique context path for each and without needing to proxy from Apache. After hours of experimentation and searching for help, I just could not find a way to make this happen.

Just as I was about to give up, I was reassured that this could be done when I read a couple installation guides that used Tomcat virtual hosts and a Railo installation using the JARs download only (not an EAR or WAR deployment): this one by James Constable and this one by Gary Gilbert.

These guys were doing exactly what I wanted to do, simply with Tomcat instead of JBoss, and since I knew JBoss AS uses Tomcat as its Web server, I knew there must be a way! I simply needed to identify the JBoss deployment directory in which to locate the Railo jars, and which web.xml and server.xml files to modify within the JBoss deployment directory structure. Here they are:

{JBOSS_HOME}/lib -- Drop the Railo jar files in here.
{JBOSS_HOME}/server/default/lib -- Drop the Railo jar files in here.

{JBOSS_HOME}/server/default/deploy/jboss-web.deployer/conf/web.xml -- Define the Railo servlet, servlet mappings and welcome files in this file.

{JBOSS_HOME}/server/default/deploy/jboss-web.deployer/server.xml -- Define Host entries for each application/virtual host in this file (to match up with Apache virtual hosts).

Next Steps

I would like to learn a bit more about JBoss AS administration and be sure my environment is configured for high performance and sensible security. I'll also want to run JBoss as a daemon that starts automatically at boot. I'm running Ubuntu 8.04 as my main development environment and I found what promises to be a fantastic article on a proper JBoss AS installation on Ubuntu!

I'm also looking for some sort of confirmation that my basic method of configuring this Railo/JBoss/Apache stack makes sense, or whether there's a preferred alternative (using WAR, EAR, proxy, etc.). I hope to get a lot of answers in the near future since Railo just recently joined forces with JBoss (read the Railo announcement here or the JBoss.org announcement here).

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