Category Archives: Core Java

Building a Saas application

This is a brainstorm post where I will jot down the ideas to build a saas application. Before we start, we have to go to basics.

What is a Saas?

Software as a service (Saas) is a software delivery model. In this model, software is served through subscription service. Saas has been popular for more than a decade now. In fact, the sales of such software has sky rocketed that building a simple software has become easier. From project management to ordering a healthy food, we can get any of these services through software with subscription.

Now what do we want to build and how do we start?

Of course, this is not an easy question to answer in a single post. Lot of times, there are lot of trial and errors you have to go through to build a viable product that people will use it. But also what and who are we targeting as an audience. There are lot of broader areas to think to build a product. That would make the entire process to build a software way too complex. So where do we start? The eternal question still remains. Human psychology over the years has progressed and helped technology to build lot of cool products. With AI has been knocking on our doors, what we build today, will be obsolete in next ten years. Based on own experience, what I have found, is that look into your own daily life. When you go for grocery shopping, when you talk to your friends, coworkers. The moment, you feel frustrated anything that is not in your control, that’s where you have something to build on.

I know it sounds ridiculously easy to write here in the post, but not easy when you are living the life. What I am trying to point is, look at problems you or other human face and if that problem can be solved through a software, you have got a viable product idea.  Every pain point, problem is an idea to build a product. Simple example – Elon Musk was driving on LA roads, he was caught in a traffic which didn’t move for long time. How do we improve our traffic? With increasing cars and population, this is almost going to be a night mare in future. He realized the problem and started a company called The Boring Company which will build underground tunnels for handling traffic.

Back to our idea storming session about building a solution for what problem. If you are like me who works in a software company, it is easy to see through this dilemma to build a solution that can help you and other developers equally. But in a larger context, you can always go through different Saas services and hear the feedback from those services’ users. Any negative feedback is your path to build a product. Assuming we got the idea to build a Saas product, so how do we proceed further?

Post-idea discussion

Once we have a solid idea, we can think about building a minimum viable product which gives customers chance to explore the product with minimum fuss. Less complex the product is for customers to use intuitively, better will be their experiences and happier they will be to recommend your product to others. So one of the major aspect you should work on after a solid idea, is to create a minimum viable design. This will be alpha version of the product. Getting alpha version out of the door in minimum time will give you better idea where to focus on scaling the product in future. This will also save time and money.

Technology and Frameworks

Once we have initial design of minimum product, we can think of what technology and framework to use. What kind of infrastructure to use? Considering less expensive option, cloud is very popular to use to build a Saas product. This reduces the management of infrastructure while giving high availability and scalability. Amazon, Google and Microsoft all these companies offer cloud solution to build your application. Also if you want to scale your application in future for data intensive, cloud is the best option to handle all kinds of load.

For backend, there are different frameworks available based on C#, Python or Java. Since I have worked on Java, I vouch for Spring which offers lot of flexibility and ease to add lot of code easily. Of course, there is a learning curve if you have never used spring before. For database, we have two major options, one is SQL based database or NoSQL. If it is data intensive application, NoSQL makes more sense.

On frontend side, angularjs offers lot of ease to build a modern user interface to interact with backend.

Conclusion

There are lot of other factors we have not considered in this discussion especially related to performance and health of the application. Also we didn’t discuss any major approach to build the application. I hope this brain storming post will give readers an idea what possibilities are out there to build something that is helpful.

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How to implement a chatbot in Java

So we are back on our discussion about chatbots. I will not talk about basics of chatbots that I covered here. I will directly start showing how to implement a chatbot in Java. We are going to use AIML (Artificial Intelligence Markup Language) library for this implementation. This library is opensource and provided by google.

A maven project

As a first step, let’s create a maven project in eclipse with groupId com.betterjavacode and artifactId as chatbot. Once the project is created, we can add ab.jar to project by adding the respective dependency in maven pom.xml  like below:

Google library for AIML provides default AI rules to use to implement chatbot. We will add these rules in resources directory of our project. Copy bots folder from program-ab directory into resources folder.

Chatbot Program

Now we will write the chatbot program which will be part of main method. In simple terms, once we invoke this program through main method, it will be in an infinite loop. An input command will wait for user input and then based on our aiml library chatbot will answer to what an user had input.

Now if we run this program, it will show us input to ask a question to chatbot Mr. Chatter.

Conclusion

In this article, we showed how to add a chatbot. Similarly, we can enhance this program by adding custom patterns that chatbot can respond to.

References

Chatbot Implementation

Spring Boot and Microservices

Over the last few months, I have worked on Spring Boot and tried to collect my knowledge around Microservices. I was discussing lot of this with my friends and one friend did suggest me to write a book. Initially I was little hesitant to write a book about something I was learning. But also the whole point of learning is to teach someone at some point of time.

So I took this as a challenge to write a book about Spring Boot and Microservices. Initially I created series of posts and posted on this blog to see how much it could benefit people. And now to make it easy for every one, I have collected all this information and wrote an ebook. This ebook Spring Boot and Microservices is free to download. I hope this will help people to understand the concepts of Microservices and my example can help them to head start the building their projects.

Spring Boot and Microservices

What’s next?

Where do we go from here? There are lot of questions about the next strategy about Spring Boot and Microservices. What I have covered in this book, is a tiny portion of big picture. There is lot of options like scaling the service, adding health check for the service, deploying the service on cloud with automation. But for right now, I just want to take a break from thinking about this and I will come up with a next plan soon.

Till that time, you can download, read and send me your feedback about the book. It will be great if you can leave a review for the book here.

If you have any questions, please leave your comments on this blog and I will try my best to answer them.

How to deploy Spring Boot Application on docker – Part IX

What is docker

Docker is a container platform delivered by a company named “Docker Inc.” Docker can be used by developers, operators and enterprise users to deliver and use packaged software. Docker has something called a container. Container can be a virtual machine (VM) in lay man’s terms, but still little different from VM. Container contains packaged software delivered in a way that it can be run isolated on a shared operating system. As per official definition – Unlike VMs, container does not bundle a full operating system – only libraries and settings required to make the software work are needed.

In this demo, we will use our spring boot application built throughout from Part I to Part VIII.

I am using Windows Platform Toolbox for docker to build my docker containers. 

We will build a container with mysql database deployed and another container where we will deploy spring boot application. This spring boot application container will connect to mysql database container at runtime. The process is little complicated, but once you get your hands on docker container, it becomes very straight forward to understand. Also for this post, I will not explain anything about spring boot application. You should review all the previous posts I have written explaining how to build and deploy spring boot application on an embedded tomcat.

Building a docker container with mysql

Few things to remember

  1. Make sure your spring boot application is working with mysql database before you build a container.
  2. If your application contains user administration and password, make sure you have a super administrator whose password you can insert in database with password_hash. This is specifically true for the application we will be deploying in docker container.

For most standard applications (like mysql, java 8, spring-boot), there are number of images available in docker hub. When we will run our docker container for database, docker shell will pull the version of that application from the hub to build a container. We will not be creating any new or blank docker image. To run a docker container with mysql version 5.6, we will use below command.

 

  • Name of our docker container is benefitsmysql.
  • We are not using any password. This is not recommended for production code, I am just doing this for demo purposes.
  • Database name is benefitsmysql.
  • Also this database is running at port 3308 to 3306 of local host machine.
  • -d to tell Docker to daemonize the container and keep it running.
  • mysql:5.6 to download MySQL 5.6 Server image from Docker public repo

Once this is started, there are couple of ways you can verify if we are able to connect to this database or not.

Get the ip address of this container host with command docker-machine ip . Now in mysql administrator workbench, access the mysql server with ip address and port 3308 and see if you can access the database.

Another way on docker shell terminal – use this command docker exec -it benefitsmysql -l , this will connect you as a root to the shell where mysql is installed. And then you can use mysql as regular command to access mysql.

To run our Spring boot application successfully, once you access mysql, create following tables:

 

Building a docker image for Spring Boot Application along with mysql

To dockerize my spring boot application, we will use a maven plugin to build a docker image.

I am passing dockerDirectory where Dockerfile will be stored to build our image. Also another change I have made to my original pom file, is that i have added packaging as jar.

I have also changed in my application.properties to point to mysql database container by updating database url with ipaddress of docker container.

spring.datasource.url=jdbc:mysql://192.168.99.100:3308/benefitsmysql

My Dockerfile to build a docker image is as below:

Basically this will build a Benefits.jar using java 8 and will expose port 8443 that I can use to access my application.

Now build a new docker container image by using maven goal as

mvn clean package docker:build

To run the application

docker run -p 8443:8443 --name benefits --link benefitsmysql:mysql -d containerid

This will execute the jar built within that container. Important to note here is --link as it links other container where we have mysql server deployed. So we are linking two containers and we will call the database from our spring boot application container. The same command can be used little differently to see the detail execution log as below

docker run -p 8443:8443 --name benefits --link benefitsmysql:mysql -it containerid

 

Executing the application

Once the application starts successfully, we will access our application with url https://192.168.99.100:8443/home , this will look like below:

DockerContainerSpringAppLogin

Another note – Make sure to update ip addess in all angular js references.

In this post, we showed how we can deploy Spring boot application connected to mysql on a docker container. Code for this post will be available on github repository here

References

To write my post, I used following references

  1. Docker
  2. Connection refused error
  3. Spring Boot docker

Microservices – A Primer

What is Microservices?

Wikipedia definition says

Microservices is a variant of the service-oriented architecture (SOA) architectural style that structures an application as a collection of loosely coupled services.

But there is no official definition of Microservices by industry standards. It’s recent phenomenon in software industry to architect the new softwares which should be light weight, easier to deploy and scale, easier to refactor individually and could work independently.

To understand in details, you can definitely read Martin Fowler’s Microservices or Chris Richardson’s Microservices.

We will not be covering this post in detail as compared to link I have posted here. Microservices are small services that can run independently, but can also easily communicate with other services.

Microservice Architecture vs Monolithic Architecture

In traditional monolithic architecture style, there is a single application with single code base. An application contains number of modules which are interrelated and can have external dependencies. It’s a multi-tier enterprise application and has been used to build software for long.

Microservice architecture style was born out of need to build an application that could easily be supported for mobile applications. Older style was not easy to support for mobile and new generation way to handling of data. Any large enterprise application can be easily built using microservices architecture style.

How to identify Microservice Architecture Pattern?

A simple ground rule of microservice architecture pattern is to build a standalone service that can be run without depending on any other service. That means for a large application can have more than one services talking to each other, communicating with their own databases, but still performing the business logic. Databases are used to ensure loose coupling of services.

A large enterprise e-commerce application can consist of following services

  1. Backend service REST API to manage data
    1. Account Service
    2. Shipment Service
    3. Inventory Service
  2. Runtime service to handle runtime and backend data to process business logic
  3. Logging service
  4. Error Handling service
  5. Session service

UI for the e-commerce application can be built independently to use backend services to show/edit data.

By standards, there are few rules to identify microservices patterns

  1. Decomposition by business capability
  2. Database per service pattern
  3. API gateway pattern
  4. Client-side discovery and Server-side discovery

Pros and Cons of Microservices

Pros

  1. Deployability – They can independently be deployed.
  2. Reliability – A fault in the service can only bring down that service, depending on handling in application, rest of the application can still be accessed.
  3. Scalability – Each microservice can be scaled depending on requirements using clusters and grids.
  4. Availability – Dispatching the patch or newer version of service requires less downtime compared to regular monolithic application.
  5. Management – Easier to manage
  6. Design and Development – Each service can be developed independently and helps developer to manage the service easily without worrying about other services.

Cons

  1. Performance – All services involved in application have to communicate with each other over network and that could hamper the performance.
  2. Testability – Automated tests are harder to manage and run.
  3. Memory usage – Possible duplicate data across services and lot of duplication in cache.

References

You can read more about Microservices at following links:

  1. Microservices by Chris Richardson
  2. Microservices by Martin Fowler
  3. Stackoverflow post about microservices

Design Pattern – Prototype Pattern – Part VI

If you want to read about previous posts related to design patterns, series of posts about design patterns are

  1. Introduction to design patterns
  2. Singleton Pattern
  3. Factory Pattern
  4. Abstract Factory Pattern
  5. Builder Pattern

The next post about Prototype design pattern will cover creation design pattern that we have been writing about till now.

When to use Prototype Design Pattern?

Since this is a creational design pattern, this is used when decision is to reduce creation cost of object through standard way. There can be argument about how this is then different from abstract factory pattern. The key benefit of Prototype design pattern is that it optimizes the use case where multiple objects of same type will have mostly same data.

Major example is reading configuration data from a file/database over a network. Also if you want to hide the logic of creating new instance from the client.

How to use Prototype Design Pattern?

In this pattern, there is an interface of Prototype that has method for clone and any concrete class implementing this interface, implements the method to clone the object.


public interface Car {

Car clone();

}

We have an interface Car which we will implement in our concrete classes.


package com.bettterjavacode.designpatterns.prototypeexample;

public class Toyota implements Car {

private final String CARNAME = "Toyota";

public Car clone() {
return new Toyota();
}

@Override
public String toString() {
return CARNAME;
}

}

We will have a factory class that will get us a prototype based on type of object we have passed. This will look like below:


package com.bettterjavacode.designpatterns.prototypeexample;

import java.util.HashMap;
import java.util.Map;

public class CarFactory {

private static final Map<String, Car> prototypes = new HashMap<String, Car>();

static {
prototypes.put("toyota", new Toyota());
prototypes.put("lexus", new Lexus());
prototypes.put("bmw", new BMW());
}

public static Car getPrototype(String type) {
return prototypes.get(type)
.clone();
}
}

Now our demo class will pass the type of car as an argument to print the carname. That will look like below:


package com.betterjavacode.designpatterns;

import com.bettterjavacode.designpatterns.prototypeexample.Car;
import com.bettterjavacode.designpatterns.prototypeexample.CarFactory;

public class PrototypeDemo {

public static void main(String[] args) {
if (args.length > 0) {
for (String type : args) {
Car prototype = CarFactory.getPrototype(type);
if (prototype != null) {
System.out.println(prototype);
}
}
} else {
System.out.println(" Run again with arguments");
}

}

}

Conclusion

In this post, we showed how to use prototype design pattern. The code for this is available here

References

  1. Design Patterns – Prototype
  2. Prototype Pattern

Design Patterns – Builder Pattern – Part V

Continuing the series of posts about design patterns, we will talk about builder pattern in this post. Builder pattern is of type creational design pattern. One of the major uses of Builder pattern is when there are too many constructor parameters to handle.

When to use Builder Pattern?

Builder pattern enforces a step by step approach to create a complex object. The object can not be used till it’s a finished product. It helps to encapsulate complex creation logic. One of the examples from real time is file creation with a format. If you are create a file about certain format (example xml, csv), you can builder pattern to create simple logical approach to creating file.

How to use Builder Pattern?

Lately working on a project to build an EDI file to transfer between customer, I have to create a file of format 834. So 834 file format varies according to different health insurance carrier. This file format contains headers, records and trailers. Headers indicate different paradigm about the file and the customer and who is sending it. To show example of builder pattern, I will use one of the headers of this file format and how it can be created using builder pattern.

One of the headers is called Transactional Group Header. This header looks like below in a real file

ST*834*5432853*005010X220A1~

First field “ST” indicates that it is a transactional group. All the records for one customer can lie between ST and SE. 834 is a transaction code for file format. Since this is 834 file format, code is 834. 5432853 is a unique transaction control number, this can be anything between 4 digits in length to maximum 9 digits in length. 005010X220A1 is a implementation reference number.

Our implementation of the class with have fields for each of these field from header, a private constructor and a static builder class. This is shown below:


public class TransactionalHeader implements Serializable {
private static final long serialVersionUID = 7517644545656169045L;

private String st;

private String transactioncode;

private String transactioncontrolnumber;

private String implementationreference;

public static class Builder {

private String st;

private String transactioncode;

private String transactioncontrolnumber;

private String implementationreference;

public Builder st(String st) {

this.st = st; return this;

}

public Builder transactioncode(String transactioncode) {

this.transactioncode = transactioncode; return this;

}

public Builder transactioncontrolnumber(String transactioncontrolnumber) {                            this.transactioncontrolnumber = transactioncontrolnumber; return this;

}

public Builder implementationreference(String implementationreference) {                                this.implementationreference = implementationreference; return this;

}

public TransactionalHeader build() {

return new TransactionalHeader(this);

}

}

private TransactionalHeader(Builder builder) {

this.st = builder.st;

this.transactioncode = builder.transactioncode;

this.transactioncontrolnumber = builder.transactioncontrolnumber;

this.implementationreference = builder.implementationreference;

}

public String toString() {

String result = "";

StringBuffer sb = new StringBuffer();

sb.append(st);

sb.append(FileUtil.FIELD_SPLITTER);

sb.append(transactioncode);

sb.append(FileUtil.FIELD_SPLITTER);

sb.append(transactioncontrolnumber);

sb.append(FileUtil.FIELD_SPLITTER);

sb.append(implementationreference);

sb.append("~");

result = sb.toString();

return result;

}

}

This was our builder class. Let’s create a demo class that will use this builder class to build an object that will give us transactional header in file. This will look like below:


public String getTransactionalHeader() {

String result = "";

TransactionalHeader th = new TransactionalHeader.Builder()

.st("ST")

.transactioncode(TRANSACTION_IDENTIFIER_CODE)

.transactioncontrolnumber(FileUtil.getTransactionControlNumber())

.implementationreference("005010X220A1").build();

result = th.toString();

return result;

}

In this way, builder design pattern can be used to construct complex objects. One of the easy way to identify when to use this design pattern is when you have more than 4 or more parameters in your constructor.

Code for this post is available to download here.