2017 into 2018 as a Geek

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It seems that it becoming common for people to write a personal review of the year. If you’re old school Christmas Card sort then it gets printed and put in the card. If you’re a bit more hip then it’s a Facebook post. For those trendier than that, who knows?

Anyway, I thought I’d use my blog to reflect on what has happened and what we hope to be upto in 2018.

So the big headlines for us …

  • 1st book published as a co-author about ICS, started another book project which should be finished in 2018.Artwork-front
  • Packt have been talking to me about another book project (even though my contribution to book 2 not yet finished!) Have to admit what is being suggested is intriguing and a bit different
  • Then there was the UKOUG Journey to the Cloud event. Having been postponed because of venue flooding it was good to see this happen. Not to mention it being one of s number of events I have presented at this year.39178284831_45be4e943c_m
  • We attended and presented at the Oracle EMEA Partner Conference for the 1st time and presented with my co-author on ICS.
  • Contributions to supporting the UKOUG as part of a SIG committee member, reviewed for Oracle Scene. Being involved in a SIG committee also meant helping plan the conference.
  • Writing hasn’t just been about the books, we continue to write our own blog posts, content for Oracle-integration.cloud plus several journals including Oracle Technology Network,
  • Presenting at Oracle Open World for the 1st time, and signing copies of our book on ICS
  • Promoted from an Oracle Ace Associate to a full Oracle Ace.

So where will 2018 take us, well somethings we’re confident of …

What do we hope to pull off …

  • Another year presenting at Open World,
  • UKOUG Tech 18 presentations
  • Articles for Oracle Scene
  • Submissions accepted at Oracle Code London
  • Presenting at Oracle EMEA Partner Conference

Message Push Listener – Article Update

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When I first wrote about Oracle Messaging Cloud we used a service called WebScript.io to make it easy to demonstrate the Message Push Listener. WebScript was essentially what we better know as a Serverless or Functions oriented offering (that is we wrote pieces of code and deployed them without any consideration servers etc). Well as I prepared my demos for Messaging Cloud for the UK Oracle User Group Tech 17 Conference I discovered that WebScript is being shutdown in December 2017.

In the light of this news, I needto provide an alternate implementation for my Message Push Listener demo Google’s Cloud Functions.  Before I go into the Google implementation I thought it worth sharing how I landed on Google’s offering.

The Google Cloud Functions is a new service that has been launched with an interesting future. I had hoped to try using project Fn (Oracle’s open source serverless offering) but the cloud offering is not yet publicly available – although you can run Fn on any platform today if you’re prepared to invest in setting up the environment (defeating the point of serverless). I know some of Oracle’s Developer Champions have had a preview so it cant be too far away now. I’m sure when we get a chance to access the new Cloud Native Service announced which will include Fn we will revisit it. Before settling on Google we looked at several other offerings in the serverless space. Whilst this is not an exhaustive analysis it should help give a sense of the challenges and ease of adoption. If you search today on Serverless you’ll most commonly come across Auth0’s WebTask.io, AWS Lambda and IBM OpenWhisk (based on Apache OpenWhisk).

WebTask.io

I started with WebTask.io and it was very nearly a done deal, with a nice easy to work with Cloud Development Platform, integrated testing. Extensive support for Node.js and a number of standard frameworks to use with it such as Express available without doing anything.

Other languages are supported as well by WebTask.io. But as I’m trying to create a demo that warrants very little explanation of the Serverless platform we didn’t dig in to this area. Everything went swimmingly until I tried to setup external calls to my function. This became a headache as the security model whilst not overly complex (several ways to provide the REST call with authentication e.g. adding a key in the URI). The process of generating and associating the credentials was far from clear in the documentation.

AWS Lambda

I moved to look at AWS Lambda, this I just found horribly confusing to get started with. I have heard others saying that getting going isn’t straight forward. So I found myself giving up pretty quickly as the setting up wasn’t that clear. Whilst having used AWS with its IaaS capabilities which is both powerful, flexible and pretty easy to get to grips with if you understand basic ideas like virtual machines this didnt hold true fory Lambdas.

OpenWhisk

As for OpenWisk, we started to look at it, but getting a 404 error when trying to access the Editor following the IBM documentation didn’t inspire confidence. The was plenty of supoprting documentation which explains how OpenWhisk works.

openwhisk_flow_of_processing

The Execution framework for OpenWhisk

  1.  Ningx is used for SSL termination and forwarding appropriate HTTP calls to the next component
  2. Controller first disambiguates what the user is trying to do. It does so based on the HTTP method you use in your HTTP request. This is a Scala solution built using Akka & Spray. This includes ..
  3. Verification who you are (Authentication) against a CouchDB based identiy store.
  4. Once approved details of the Action to be executed is retrieved from the whisks database in CouchDB.
  5. With information on what to do, the action of service discovery is formed using Consul. Which tracks the available executors in the system. Those executors are called Invokers
  6. Kafka is then used to mitigate the demand pipeline from a failure by recording the request and the consumer (invoker) identified by Consul.
  7. The invoker is built using Scala and uses a Docker instance to run the Action which could be anything e.g. Node.js. The action is injected into the container to be processed.
  8. As the result is obtained by the Invoker, it is stored into the whisks database as an activation under the ActivationId. The whisks database lives in CouchDB.

In addition to the 404, as you can see we have a two step process to execute an action and return a respoinse. However the Message Push Listener initial challenge needs a call and response in a single step. So trying to massage this into a call and response is going to be challenging and a distraction from what we want to be conveying.

Using Google Functions

This brings us Back to Google, whilst the Cloud IDE is not as elegant or mature as WebTask it was sufficient and the security model wasn’t imposed. I liked the documentation when needed to refer back  to it, but to be honest it is pretty intuitive. You can’t fault the docs, to the point Google gave time over to explaining how to manage or avoid incurring costs.

Setting up, was very simple, and then once you’ve choosen your cloud services you get a dashboard like this:

Google CLoud mgmt

Google provides the idea of projects which allows you to group pieces together – such as related functions. Each project is name space separated. If we then navigate into a Functions project we get a view as follows:

Google cloud functionsAs you can see in the preceeding diagram I created two functions within a project called OMCS. From here you can create more functions in your project or drill into an individual function, as the following view shows:

Google Functiuons performance

An individual function provides you with several tabbed views overing the Gernal information  (as shown above) or Trigger, Source and Testing. We can see the other views in the following screenshots. The following screen shot shows the Functions Editor, as you can see it is fairly simple – but sufficient to do the job.

GoogleCloud-OMCS

Once saved, if valid the code will automatically get deployed, or you can work offline and then upload the code if you want to use a nice editor like Sublime.

with your code edited and saved, then the next step is to invoke it. This can be done with the next tab, or the details such as the URI can be copied and you can test from your preferred test tool such as SOAPUI, Postman and APIFortress.

Google functions Trigger

The testing view allows you 5o define input and output values, along with the outcomes. Personally I worked with SOAPUI.

Google Functiuons Test

The important thing with running tests or diagnosing issues, is to be able to examine execution logs. In this area Google Functions is pretty feature rich with a solution that works in a style somewhat like the searching in Splunk (and I’m sure other log analytics tools) where you can drill into the logs and build log filters on the fly. The log view is shown in the next screenshot.

Gogole Functions Logging 2

as you can see tool looks pretty straight forward and uncomplicated to use, with freedom to adapt how you work to your preferred style. Based on my experience of using Project FN on my desktop – it is this simplicity I think we’ll see with the Cloud Native Platform from Oracle when it becomes available.

Finally, let’s take a look at the code in Google Functions code produced for this example:

code

conclusion

Google Code whilst its UI is a bit basic, it is easy to use and get started, certainly for using as a demo platform or perhaps for creating stubs, test and mock end points. Having been critical of the other offerings for security and it getting in the way of a simple illustration it is possible that the Google Functions may need some work in this area. I didn’t see anything that obviously integrated security features in easily.

Back to my Orginal Articles…

Just to tie back the impacted articles …

Passion of Music

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We dream of a collection like this

With Christmas we get some time off with the family and slowdown abit. Even indulge in things less technical. It’s been a while since I’ve blogged on the subject of music. I’ve been meaning to share the following TEDx presentation. I wish I could say that it reflects my personal manifesto…

Sadly very few people manage to devote the time and make and adequate living to keep a family to pursue this level of commitment. But we can wish, and take the suggestion to exploiting the ‘diggers’ recommendations. Want to know more, checkout ….

1st London Oracle Developer Meetup

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Meetup Dec 17-1Monday night (18th December) I co-hosted with Luis Weir the first London OracleDeveloperMeetup. Despite being a Monday evening in the run up to Christmas where a lot of people will attending Christmas events, needing to finish present shopping or event started their holiday we still had a tremendous turn out. With nearly 50 people out of almost 100 registrations coming to the Oracle London Office.

The evening kicked off just after 6pm with beer, pizza and time for people to Network. At 7pm we started with what had been scheduled to be two short 25 minute presentations to share insights into API design best practices and an overview of Apiary. Such was the interest,  interaction and conversation in the subject and content that the session over ran. But here in lies one the benefits of a Meetup over things like conferences. In the Meetup the is space and time for the presenters to adjust to what the attendees wish to cover rather than beholden to the venue scheduling.

Picture1With the presentation and discussions finding a suitable pause, it was an opportunity for a  call to arms to be made, and for people to try using developing APIs. With a mission defined which we hope people will try to continue with as it will contribute to the next Meetup. You don’t need to have attended last night’s event to participate in the next Meetup. If you want see what we’re going to try achieve take a look at the end of the slide deck. We think it will be be very entertaining and the source of a lot of laughter and amusement.

Some people did take up the challenge, others took it as an opportunity to talk further about the technology or just network.

We have now setup a GitHub so that people can contribute to the development of the API ready for the next event (https://github.com/oracledeveloperslondon/droneAPI­).

If you would like to see what is being tweeted about the event checkout #OracleDeveloperMeetup on twitter.

Photos can be seen here.

We hope you will join our Meetup and register for the event when we announce the final details. In the mean time give Apiary a try, share with us the API you have designed.

The slides are here:

 

A busy 25 hours at UKOUG Conference

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I’ve just come to the end of a very busy 25 hours at the UK Oracle User Group (UKOUG) Conference in Birmingham. Four presentations – interestingly the same subject area, that of Oracle Integration Cloud (OIC) / Integration Cloud Service (ICS) started and ended the day.  Between this we also covered some approaches to start working towards Microservices in a Monolith World and Oracle Messaging Cloud.

Below are the presentations on the Microservices and ICS/OIC. The piece on Oracle Messaging Cloud was largely demo based, so rather than sharing the presentation slides, which won’t tell you too much. The best way to find out about this is to read the 2 articles about the capability in the OraWorld magazine (issues 6 & 7). With issue 7 perfectly timed by becoming available in the last couple of days.

With the Oracle Messaging Cloud article, there is one word of caution. When the article was written and submitted I used a free cloud service (which using contemporary terminology we’d describe as Serverless) called WebScript.io.  The WebScript piece served to make it easy to consume the webservice calls illustrating the PushListener feature.  This service however is being closed down – a shame as it was an elegantly simple solution.  Given this I am currently working on a blog post which will show how another services can take the place of WebScript.io; whilst not finalised, this maybe Google Cloud Functions.

If this wasn’t enough we also squeezed in the keynote presentations, a meeting with several other contributors to OMESA (Open Modern Enterprise Software Architecture) , a lunch conversation with our Publisher (Packt) and several other Oracle book authors, Oracle Ace dinner (great food with a lot of brilliant & friendly people), some very valuable incidental conversations and some work for a customer.

Microservices in a Monolith World

Look at Oracle Integration Cloud – its relationship to ICS. Customer use Cases an Insight into why ICS

No documentation – a coding error?

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I came across this tweet from Oracle Developers (Oracle Developers Tweet) which picked up on a post from the NoBugsProject about common errors with the use of exceptions. One of the first errors the article described is one of my pet hates – the use of standard exceptions for application specific errors.

This took me onto one of my other pet hates – code without any documentation. I’m not advocating the days of waterfall Development where reams of documentation had to be produced before a single line of Code was written. In fact this is in my option worse than nothing as the docs would often not match the coded reality. But I absolutely agree with the agile manifesto statement:

We value working code over documentation

This doesn’t say no documentation, despite the fact that I have encountered more times than I care to recall the use of this statement to justify not documenting code. So what is the right balance?

We want to save effort from Code reviews and get clean code by using static code analysis but it doesn’t have the ability to apply smarts as what needs documenting? Pair programming is rarely practised, and there is plenty of psychology about group behaviour that can undermine documentation in a pair working approach effort. So what is the answer?

Well, I’ve always applied a couple of personal rules of thumb that can be measured with static code analysis particularly if you use conventional documentation tags. The rules are:

  • Interfaces warrant an interface level description of the interface purpose. It’s always helpful to describe/illustrate with use example. This is code equivalent to a good API Blueprint or swagger doc.
  • Provide a class level description of what the class is for – if it is a DAO then just say what the entity is.
  • If a class is part of a pattern, name the pattern. This is most important when relating to supporting a composite or solution pattern. Remember there will always situations where a newbie will get asked to extend or change your code, help them. Remember not every developer is as experienced or clever as you. If in doubt, give your code to someone who doesn’t know what you’re working on and ask them to explain what your code is doing and why. I had once, had to create a JDBC abstraction layer as we needed to support multiple databases. But if you know JDBC you’ll be aware of there are some subtle but important differences in implementation of connectors. I took the time to explain it in the interface header. I know a couple of developers appreciated the investment of 5 minutes.
  • If you have a function that has a code analytics score such as cyclometeric then describe the function. Use the comment to convey why the high score is justifiable.
  • If the code has specific dependencies or has to perform in a very specific sequence a short comment will help, and anyone going through refactoring code.

With these guidelines it becomes possible to then use javadoc tools to generate your documentation. It doesn’t require you to go find a word document or a wiki page to update the documentation. Of course then reviewing the generated documentation will soon help you finesse the process of documenting in a manner that is whilst light also supports readability without needing the code.

For those, who still disagree I would say …

  • Do you want to be maintaining and updating the same code for the rest of your career to meet new minor changes etc?
  • Not everyone is a great coder like you, do you want someone less capable who may have to make a change messing up your elegant code?
  • Sooner or later someone will ask you to fix or enhance some code that in your eyes is a chaotic unintelligible mess, I’m sure you’d appreciate some comments that will help you understand what the developer was trying to do? We can’t expect those not so good at the craft to document if the best of us are not prepared to do so.

If you don’t agree, or have found different approaches that ensure enough accurate documentation, please share.

hAPI times – latest contribution to Oracle Scene

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My latest contribution to the Oracle Scene journal is available at here. This article looks at the evolution of APIs, and a look at modern API Gateway capabilities. The article uses an analogy to explian the capabilities in a non-techie way.

In addition to my article the team I’m part of get a mention for their wins at this years Partner of the Year awards.

Continue On PC

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send-to-pcMicrosoft have developed a feature called ‘Continue on PC‘ which in principle is a great step which allows you to send content from your IOS or Android phone.  In many respects the idea is like the IOS Airdrop in capability.  This is to say you could start reading a web page on your mobile device and then send the page to your desktop.

A great idea, and when it works its a reasonable experience. There are some real issues though. The first grouch is that when sharing a web page, the content is presented on the desktop using Microsoft Edge, not your preferred browser.

More disappointing is that install the solution the device has to be able to receive a text message. As a result unless your tablet has mobile connection it can’t be configured to use the solution.

I’ll be presenting at UKOUG Conference with …

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I will be presenting at the UKOUG Conference this year as an Oracle Ace and Snr Consultant from a award winning Partner of the Year. I’ll be speaking about:

  • ICS (now part of Oracle Integration Cloud)
  • Microservices and WebLogic
  • Oracle Messaging Cloud Service

I also have colleagues from Capgemini covering IaaS and SaaS among other things. I hope that we see you in Birmingham. Full details of my sessions :

Integration Cloud Service (ICS) Customer use Cases an Insight Into why ICS

04/12/2017 09:00 &

05/12/2017 09:00

In this session the presenters will talk about several applications of Integration Cloud Service (ICS) with customers from Capgemini. Whilst presenting the use cases, the reasoning for adopting ICS over other integration options will be explained and some of the design considerations that had to be addressed in the application of ICS. Whilst looking at the example cases, factors involved in deciding which iPaaS offering to adopt based on needs.
This session will be presented by Phil Wilkins one of the authors of the book Implementing Oracle Integration Cloud Service and supporting blog.


Microservices in a Monolith World

04/12/2017 15:25

Whilst microservices are mainstream thinking, many organisations make significant long term investments in application containers such as WebLogic and can be resistant to moving on from such investments. So how do we realise the microservice thinking with such constraints? This presentation looks at several approaches that can allow us to leverage microservice thinking without sacrificing the existing investment.


Why Should I Consider Oracle Messaging Cloud Service as an Integration Solution?

04/12/2017 17:55

Oracle Messaging Cloud Service is an often-overlooked service in the family of iPaaS options, but why? So, what makes it worth considering and makes it more contemporary than JMS with Java Cloud Service? This presentation will look at what differentiates MCS from JCS and Event Hub and others and does it offer that makes it distinct and worthwhile option?