TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Sep 01 Beg WebObjects

Volume Number: 17 (2001)
Issue Number: 09
Column Tag: Beginning WebObjects 5

Part 1 - Presenting WebObjects 5

by Emmanuel Proulx

Introduction & Installation

Preface

This new column deals with WebObjects 5. It is meant to be easy and fun to read. This column talks about developing a Web application using WebObjects 5, in Java. Originally, this column was a book, with hundreds of pages. It has been cut down a lot to accommodate space restrictions.

Those interested in learning to build Web applications using WebObjects 5 should read this column. The only prerequisite is being Java programmers of at least intermediate level.

Other knowledge is not necessary, although understanding HTML basics can help tremendously because WebObjects borrows many characteristics from this language. If you don't know HTML at all but you still want to learn WebObjects, just skip the paragraphs that talk about HTML. For your convenience, these are usually marked with the symbol <HTML>. You won't get into any trouble, but you will not understand how WebObjects works behind the scene.

The same thing goes with databases. While knowing databases and SQL isn't necessary, you have to have basic knowledge if you're going to read the sections about databases. Database software is necessary if you're going to try out WebObjects' database features. I tried to keep all of the database interfacing and programming contents in separate sections for convenience.

Note that someone who masters Java programming, client/server design, HTML and Web Design as well as databases and SQL will be able to learn WebObjects radically faster.

What Is WebObjects?

I started this new job and the job description was "Java Developer". I was expecting to use one of these Java IDEs like Visual Café or Visual Age. My new boss said, "No, here we use WebObjects". I had heard about that tool, but I didn't know it was a Java IDE. It wasn't.

WebObjects is an environment for developing interactive Web Sites. The Java language is being used to implement Server-side behavior; the client side is mostly HTML, not necessarily Java Applets or even JavaScript for that matter.

WebObjects is much more than that. If also falls into the Application Server category. What is that? In the past, a "Server" would consist of just a Database. Nowadays a Server can also handle distributed transactions, multi-tier architecture, load-balancing, business logic, Enterprise JavaBeans, and other concepts and technologies involving more advanced server-side intelligence. An environment that helps with the development and deployment of such complex Servers is called an Application Server.

WO consists of multiple tools that are tightly integrated.

  • Project Builder: lets you browse the source code and manage the project.
  • WebObjects Builder: lets you assemble a Web Page.
  • Enterprise Object Modeler: lets you connect your Web Application to a database.
  • Interface Builder: lets you create Java applications and applets that connect to the WebObjects server for executing business logic and database access.
  • Direct To Web: a wizard that creates a complete database-driven customizable Web application.
  • Direct To Java Client: a wizard that creates a complete database-driven customizable Java program or applet.
  • Monitor: a remote task monitoring and performance analysis utility.

Other smaller utilities like a ‘Diff' utility, debugging tools, etc.

Other modules are included, yet they are not visible:

  • Web Server Adaptor: plugs into your Web Server to connect it to WebObjects.
  • JDBC Database Adaptor: connects WebObjects to a database driver.
  • The frameworks, which are powerful programming libraries. They support the whole WebObjects system. We refer to them as the Foundation, WebObjects and Enterprise Object Frameworks. The preceding tools make use of the Frameworks, and even generate some code that uses them.

How do these tools work with each other? The Figure 1 illustrates their interactions.


Figure 1. Interactions between the tools

In a typical WebObjects application, the focus is the project file, which points to the different components of the application. The Project Builder manages this file. Then, to create the Web Components (Web pages), you usually run the WebObjects Builder program. When a component makes use of a database, you have to use a model to link the tables of the database to your system's objects. This model is created using the EO Modeler. To let a user connect to your site, you need a Web Server containing the WebObjects Adaptor. There's more on each of these parts later on.

Lastly, WebObjects also is an IDE for developing Cocoa and Carbon applications, but this column deals only with Web applications.

Installation Information

First you must know that there are two distinct packages that can be installed with WebObjects 5. Each has its own specific use and list of installed components.

  • Developer edition: Contains all the graphical tools and libraries. Used for the development environment. At the time this was written, only the Mac OS X would support the Developer Edition.
  • Deployment edition: contains only the deployment tools and the run-time libraries. Used for the deployment environment. Can be installed on top of the Developer edition on Mac OS X. The Deployment Edition is available for a variety of platforms.

This column generally talks about the Developer edition. The Deployment edition will be covered in a separate article.

To develop with WebObjects Developer Edition, you need a Mac OS X environment with at least 128 megabytes of RAM and 600 megabytes of hard disk space. That said, remember this golden rule: you never have enough RAM and hard disk space!

Once you're done with your development, you can deploy your application on either Mac OS X, Windows 2000, or Solaris.

You will also need a supported Web server. On the Mac OS X, the default server is Apache, and works great.

If speed doesn't matter that much to you, you can get any Web Server with CGI capability. Else, you have to get a Web Server compatible with either the NSAPI or WAI standards (Netscape's Web Servers), ISAPI (Microsoft's Web Servers) or Apache. Of course, select a Web Server that works on your deployment platform.

If you need to access a database, you want to use one that has a JDBC 2.0 driver. WebObjects comes bundled with an evaluation version of OpenBase. But on deployment platforms you may want to go for an industrial-strength database, like Oracle, Informix, Sybase, DB/2, etc. You can also connect to any ODBC-compliant database on Windows using the ODBC/JDBC bridge, but that would make things slower.

NOTE: Not many database products are available on Mac OS X, so you may want to purchase a complete version of OpenBase (www.openbase.com).

Installation

Pre-Installation Steps

It is very important to install your Web Server before you install WebObjects.

NOTE: if you already installed WebObjects and you want to install a Web Server afterward, the only issue is with the "cgi-bin" folder. WebObjects has already copied its required executables in a temporary "cgi-bin" folder. After setting up your Web Server, you will have to copy these executables in the new Web Server's "cgi-bin" folder (you will have to make one if there is none).

Also, it doesn't hurt to install your database software at this point if you don't have one already.

On Mac OS X, both Apache and OpenBase are installed by default.

To install WebObjects on any platform, you need to log on as the Administrator (or root) user. If you don't have Administrator (or root) access rights, it won't work at all.

On Mac OS X, you have to first enable the root user (which is blocked by default) and then to log on as the root user. To enable the root user, open folder /Applications/Utilities, and double-click on NetInfo Manager. Once NetInfo Manager is running, open menu Domain | Security | Enable Root User. You will be asked to enter a password for the root user. Now log off and log on again using ‘root' as the user name, and the password you set previously. You are now logged as the root user and ready to install. After the installation is finished, you may disable the root user by running NetInfo Manager again.

Installation Steps

Insert your WebObjects CD in your CD-ROM drive. Double-click on the new icon that shows up in the desktop. Now double-click on the icon marked WebObjects_X_Developer.mpkg. This will call the installation program. Then, follow the instructions in the wizard-like window.

The following notes are meant to help you along the way. Read them before starting the install:

  • The serial number is usually located on a sticker on the CD envelope.
  • Be sure to read carefully the License Agreement for the next two hours. ;-)
  • Most people should choose a Typical Install. The Typical Install includes everything except the following (generally unimportant) items:
  • The Japanese language support
  • The source code
  • At one point, the WebObjects installation program could ask you for your Web Server's "cgi-bin" folder and its "docs" folder. Check them out and write them down before you start the install.
  • This process takes a very long time - be patient.
  • You will need to restart your computer at the end of the install, so it's a good idea to save your data and close all programs before even starting it.

Patches

I recommend that you install the latest patches for all of these (if you use them):

  • WebObjects itself
  • The operating system
  • The Web server
  • Your database software

For the Mac OS X, updating to the latest patch is very easy. You can get all the patches by going to the System Preferences panel, in the category Software Update. You will find there a button "Update Now". Clicking on it will check all software versions against an online database of patches. It will propose updates when they are available. I suggest you apply all of them. At the time this article was written, there was one patch available, which fixes many bugs. Install it.

On other platforms, updating to the latest patch may require that you visit each vendor's Web site and check for patches there. That's it — you are now ready to enjoy your development environment.

I didn't cover the deployment installation here because it is a complex topic that deserves its own article.

The Find-A-Luv example

I designed this column to have a good balance of theory and examples. I took good care of the theory, but I didn't want to make tiny useless examples and toy-code I had seen too often. Also, I didn't want to just show how to use the wizards of WebObjects and leave you alone with the customization. I needed a real Web Application and I wanted to develop it from scratch, not using just the wizards...

So throughout this column, I will be developing, as the main example, always the same Web Application. It features a Web Site for an imaginary dating services company. This company's promise is to help find nothing less than the client's soul mate. But be forewarned: if you're looking for your soul mate, this column will not help you.

We will start small and we'll expand this example as we go along.

Web Development Alternatives

WebObjects is not alone. There's a lot of competition out there. Many tools offer interactive Web Site/Server-side processing and Application Server solutions. Let's digest a few of the most popular ones.

Competing Interactive Web Site Solutions

The first ever solution for that is the CGI (common gateway interface). This is the most primitive solution. CGI is not a product; it's a feature of your Web Server that lets you insert your own program in you Web Site. That program can receive the user's input, and outputs a new Web Page based on it. The main disadvantage of the CGI is that the HTML code and database access are encapsulated into the source code; this is not pretty nor is it easy to develop. The main advantage is that you don't have to buy software to use CGI programs since it's already in your Web Server. Just use any computer language and you're on your way.

Sun Microsystems' Java Servlets are based on the same idea as CGIs, except they are written in Java and use their own module (called Servlet Runner program) that adds on to the Web Server. They have similar advantages and disadvantages as CGIs except for the fact that certain Web Servers don't support Servlets natively. Or if they do, their quality leaves a lot to be desired. This is the reason why commercial third party Servlet Runner programs (like Allaire's JRun) are available.

Allaire's ColdFusion is a commercial product that lets you write HTML "templates". That is, you write your HTML like you would normally do for your Web Page, and then you add in the same file the logic that makes the page interactive. You can even link your page to the database in only a few steps. The advantage is that you can use an HTML graphical editor for most of the work, and then add the logic afterward. ColdFusion is easy to use and produces results fast (just like HTML does). The main problem with ColdFusion is that it's not a real computer language; you can quickly arrive at the limit of what it can do.

Microsoft's ASP (Active Server Pages) also relies on "templates". But the logic is coded with Visual Basic. The main advantage is, like ColdFusion, fast development and tools that let you create pages easily. The disadvantage is that ASP is not portable: you can only use it on Microsoft's Web Servers.

Sun Microsystems' JSP (Java Server Pages) is an important player. JSP is based on the same idea as ASP, but the logic is coded in Java.

Here's a grid that summarizes the different characteristics of these solutions:

Alternatives CGI Servlets ColdFusion
Characteristics
Comes with your Yes Some No
Web Server
Uses templates No No Yes
Logic and HTML in No, HTML No, HTML No, code
separate files in code in ccde in HTML
Flexibility of a Yes Yes No
real language
Supports most YES Yes, with Yes
Web Servers Servlet
Runner
program
Uses Java No Yes No
Alternatives ASP/JSP WebObjects
Characteristics
Comes with your
Web Server
Some No
Uses Templates Yes Yes
Logic and HTML
in separate files
No, code in HTML Yes
Flexibility of a
real language
Yes Yes
Supports most
Web Servers
NO Yes
Uses Java JSP only Yes

Competing Application Servers

When Sybase wanted to issue an application server, they decided not to reinvent the wheel. They put together a set of existing tools then integrated them. Their Enterprise Application Server (or EAServer) is composed of Sybase's Jaguar CTS (application server) and PowerDynamo (Web server). EAServer is integrated with development tools like PowerBuilder and PowerJ, but these come separately.

IBM's application server is called simply WebSphere Application Server (Standard Edition). It features Servlets and JSP, a Web Server, and integration with Visual Age for Java and WebSphere Studio — sold separately. The Advanced and Enterprise editions offer more features, like EJB, better performance, security and other advanced features.

The Oracle Application Server provides a basic set of features; Web Server (with Servlet and JSP support), EJB, a stable and scaleable environment for deploying Web applications. It is also integrated with Oracle's IDEs, Oracle Developer and JDeveloper.

BEA's WebLogic Server is an application servers that follows the J2EE standard to the letter. It features also Servlets and JSP for the dynamic HTML part, integrated with the most popular third-party IDEs. EJB, Java 2 Enterprise Edition and the latest standards are supported.

Here's a grid that summarizes the different characteristics of these solutions:

Alternatives
Characteristics
Sybase IBM BEA
EAServer WebSphere WebLogicServer
Uses J2EE/EJB Yes Yes Yes
Works on Mac No No No
Comes with an
IDE and tools
No (separate) No (separate) No
Does distributed Yes Advanced Yes
transactions, Edition only
monitoring and
load balancing.

Alternatives
Characteristics Oracle WebObjects
Application
Server
Uses J2EE/EJB Yes No
Works on Mac No Yes
Comes with an
IDE and Tools
No (separate) Yes
Does distributed
transactions,
monitoring and
load balancing
Yes Yes

As I am writing this book, there are countless different application server packages on the market. I will not cover them all, but I am convinced that only WebObjects covers such a wide variety of tools and features. But in general, I have noticed that most of the other application servers are just a bunch of distinct tools put together. Many of these products are tied to a single Web server or database. On the other hand, WebObjects has fully integrated tools that work together as a whole and leverages whatever tools (Web Server, database) you already have. Its programming libraries and database tools are jewels and no other vendor offers similar tools. While WebObjects does not follow the J2EE specification, its proprietary nature enables Apple to provide easy-to-use RAD tools and many "value-added" features. Furthermore, WebObjects is the only application server available on the Mac OS X.


Emmanuel Proulx is a Course Writer, Author and Web Developer, working in the domain of Java Application Servers. He can be reached at emmanuelp@theglobe.com.

 
AAPL
$96.52
Apple Inc.
-0.67
MSFT
$44.60
Microsoft Corpora
-0.28
GOOG
$595.03
Google Inc.
-0.95

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Airfoil 4.8.7 - Send audio from any app...
Airfoil allows you to send any audio to AirPort Express units, Apple TVs, and even other Macs and PCs, all in sync! It's your audio - everywhere. With Airfoil you can take audio from any... Read more
Microsoft Remote Desktop 8.0.8 - Connect...
With Microsoft Remote Desktop, you can connect to a remote PC and your work resources from almost anywhere. Experience the power of Windows with RemoteFX in a Remote Desktop client designed to help... Read more
xACT 2.30 - Audio compression toolkit. (...
xACT stands for X Aaudio Compression Toolkit, an application that encodes and decodes FLAC, SHN, Monkey’s Audio, TTA, Wavpack, and Apple Lossless files. It also can encode these formats to MP3, AAC... Read more
Firefox 31.0 - Fast, safe Web browser. (...
Firefox for Mac offers a fast, safe Web browsing experience. Browse quickly, securely, and effortlessly. With its industry-leading features, Firefox is the choice of Web development professionals... Read more
Little Snitch 3.3.3 - Alerts you to outg...
Little Snitch gives you control over your private outgoing data. Track background activityAs soon as your computer connects to the Internet, applications often have permission to send any... Read more
Thunderbird 31.0 - Email client from Moz...
As of July 2012, Thunderbird has transitioned to a new governance model, with new features being developed by the broader free software and open source community, and security fixes and improvements... Read more
Together 3.2 - Store and organize all of...
Together helps you organize your Mac, giving you the ability to store, edit and preview your files in a single clean, uncluttered interface. Smart storage. With simple drag-and-drop functionality,... Read more
Cyberduck 4.5 - FTP and SFTP browser. (F...
Cyberduck is a robust FTP/FTP-TLS/SFTP browser for the Mac whose lack of visual clutter and cleverly intuitive features make it easy to use. Support for external editors and system technologies such... Read more
iExplorer 3.4 - View and transfer all th...
iExplorer is an iPhone browser for Mac lets you view the files on your iOS device. By using a drag and drop interface, you can quickly copy files and folders between your Mac and your iPhone or... Read more
Airmail 1.4 - Powerful, minimal email cl...
Airmail is a powerful, minimal mail client.It was designed to retain the same experience with a single or multiple accounts and provide a quick, modern and easy-to-use user experience. Airmail... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Revolution 60 Review
Revolution 60 Review By Jordan Minor on July 24th, 2014 Our Rating: :: LASS EFFECTUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Revolution 60 is a bold, cinematic action game with ambition to spare.   | Read more »
Matter (Photography)
Matter 1.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Photography Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: Add stunning 3D effects to your photos with real-time shadows and reflections. Export your creations as photos or video loops... | Read more »
Fanatic Earth Review
Fanatic Earth Review By Brittany Vincent on July 24th, 2014 Our Rating: :: BY-THE-NUMBERSUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Kemco’s stable of mobile RPGs grows, but in Fanatic Earth’s situation it’s a case of quantity... | Read more »
Together for iOS (Productivity)
Together for iOS 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Productivity Price: $9.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Together is an app for keeping things in one place. Notes, documents, images, movies, sounds, web pages and bookmarks... | Read more »
The Phantom PI Mission Apparition (Game...
The Phantom PI Mission Apparition 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ** Release sale! 50% off for a limited time! ** The Phantom PI Mission Apparition is a spooky, puzzly, rock’... | Read more »
The Great Prank War (Games)
The Great Prank War 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Help Mordecai, Rigby, Muscle Man and Skips take the park back from Gene and his goons with a plethora of prank-related... | Read more »
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Games)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Download the all new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Official Movie Game! | Read more »
Dream Revenant (Games)
Dream Revenant 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: EXCLUSIVE LAUNCH PRICE ! Dream Revenant is at $1.99 for a limited time ! | Read more »
Traps n' Gemstones (Games)
Traps n' Gemstones 1.00 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.00 (iTunes) Description: LAUNCH SALE! 40% off, JULY ONLY! TRAPS N' GEMSTONES is an adventurous platform game, among gamers typically known as the... | Read more »
Soccer Physics (Games)
Soccer Physics 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: One-button soccer game! So dumb it's fun. "Soccer Physics is probably the funniest football game you'll play on iOS" —... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

What Should Apple’s Next MacBook Priority Be;...
Stabley Times’ Phil Moore says that after expanding its iMac lineup with a new low end model, Apple’s next Mac hardware decision will be how it wants to approach expanding its MacBook lineup as well... Read more
ArtRage For iPhone Painting App Free During C...
ArtRage for iPhone is currently being offered for free (regularly $1.99) during Comic-Con San Diego #SDCC, July 24-27, in celebration of the upcoming ArtRage 4.5 and other 64-bit versions of the... Read more
With The Apple/IBM Alliance, Is The iPad Now...
Almost since the iPad was rolled out in 2010, and especially after Apple made a 128 GB storage configuration available in 2012, there’s been debate over whether the iPad is a serious tool for... Read more
MacBook Airs on sale starting at $799, free s...
B&H Photo has the new 2014 MacBook Airs on sale for up to $100 off MSRP for a limited time. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. They also include free copies of Parallels... Read more
Apple 27″ Thunderbolt Display (refurbished) a...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 27″ Thunderbolt Displays available for $799 including free shipping. That’s $200 off the cost of new models. Read more
WaterField Designs Unveils Cycling Ride Pouch...
High end computer case and bag maker WaterField Designs of San Francisco now enters the cycling market with the introduction of the Cycling Ride Pouch – an upscale toolkit with a scratch-free iPhone... Read more
Kingston Digital Ships Large Capacity Near 1T...
Kingston Digital, Inc., the Flash memory affiliate of Kingston Technology Company, Inc.,has announced its latest addition to the SSDNow V300 series, the V310. The Kingston SSDNow V310 solid-state... Read more
Apple’s Fiscal Third Quarter Results; Record...
Apple has announced financial results for its fiscal 2014 third quarter ended June 28, 2014, racking up quarterly revenue of $37.4 billion and quarterly net profit of $7.7 billion, or $1.28 per... Read more
15-inch 2.0GHz MacBook Pro Retina on sale for...
B&H Photo has the 15″ 2.0GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $1829 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $170 off MSRP. B&H will also include free copies of Parallels... Read more
Apple restocks refurbished Mac minis for up t...
The Apple Store has restocked Apple Certified Refurbished Mac minis for up to $150 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: - 2.5GHz Mac... Read more

Jobs Board

Sr Software Lead Engineer, *Apple* Online S...
Sr Software Lead Engineer, Apple Online Store Publishing Systems Keywords: Company: Apple Job Code: E3PCAK8MgYYkw Location (City or ZIP): Santa Clara Status: Full Read more
Senior Interaction Designer, *Apple* Online...
**Job Summary** Apple is looking for a hands on Senior…will be a key player in designing for the Apple Online Store. The ideal designer will have a Read more
*Apple* Sales Chat Rep - Apple (United State...
…is looking for motivated, outgoing, and tech savvy individuals who want to offer Apple Customers an unparalleled customer experience over chat. At Apple , we believe Read more
Mac Expert - *Apple* Online Store Mexico -...
…MUST be fluent in English and Spanish to be considered for this position At Apple , we believe that hard work, a fun environment, creativity and innovation fuel the Read more
*Apple* Industrial Design CAD Sculptor - App...
**Job Summary** The Apple Industrial Design team is looking for a CAD sculptor/Digital 3D modeler to create high quality CAD models used in the industrial design process Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.