Thursday, July 26, 2012

Zazl Optimizer integrated into Maqetta

The Maqetta project is a great new tool for building HTML5 based user interfaces. One of its features is a "preview" option that allows developers to view the pages they have assembled. This functionality runs as an AMD based webpage loading all of its AMD modules individually. The load time of the preview can be significantly affected when running the preview in a high latency environment as each module load is an individual HTTP request. Typically the fix for this is to run some form of build tool that will concatenate all the modules together so that only one HTTP request is required. However, as the pages are assembled dynamically in Maqetta performing a static build is not really a viable option.

This is where Zazl can help. The Zazl AMD Optimizer supports dynamic optimizations such as module concatenation and can be typically integrated with minimal coding. Maqetta is OSGi based so Zazl must run in its OSGi mode as a set of OSGi bundles.

One of my main goals of the integration was to be as unobtrusive as possible in regard to the Maqetta source modifications. Only 2 core modifications were required :
  1. Modify the generated preview URL to include a "zazl=true" parameter when Zazl is required to handle the preview.
  2. Ensure that a raw version of Dojo was available for Zazl to use. Zazl requires that the AMD modules it analyzes have not been built with another build tool. Unfortunately the Dojo that Maqetta uses for preview has already been run through the Dojo build tool. Maqetta uses an ajaxLibrary Eclipse Extension Point to register paths to different libraries. A new extension instance for the raw Dojo code was added so that it did not interfere with the existing ajaxLibrary extension for the built version of Dojo.
With the Maqetta modifications in place some bootstrap code is required to setup the Zazl runtime so that it can intecept the preview URL requests and ensure that the Zazl AMD loader is used to load the AMD modules. You can see all of the bootstrap code here.

Modifications have to be made to the Preview's HTML page to ensure that the Zazl AMD loader is configured and loaded. A JEE Filter is a great tool for intercepting HTTP requests and responses. A Filter was written and configured within Maqetta to catch the preview requests and look for the "zazl=true" URL parameter. If matched an HTML parser (written using a Java Library called NekoHTML) is used to parse the HTML looking for the Dojo script tag. The parser switches the script tag with one that loads the Zazl AMD loader and also sets up the configuration.

In addition to creating the JEE Filter for the preview the bootstrap code has to ensure that the Zazl javascript servlet is configured and running and also that Zazl Resource Loading requests can find resources within the Maqetta environment. Both the JEE Filter and the Zazl javascript servlet are registered in an OSGi Activator run within a bootstap OSGi bundle called maqetta.zazl. This Activator also creates an instance of a custom Zazl Resource Loader that understands how to obtain resources from the Maqetta environment. Maqetta provides its own virtual directory API that can be used by this custom Resource Loader to obtain URL's to the resources.

The bootstrap code includes one other component. When the preview webpage is loaded it now has a reference to the Zazl AMD Loader. The Maqetta environment must be able to find this resource which resides in one of the Zazl Optimizers bundles. To achieve this the Zazl Optimizer bundle has to register an ajaxLibrary Eclipse Plugin Extension, I didn't want to contaminate the Zazl code with Maqetta specific references so an OSGi fragment bundle was created to add the required Eclipse Metadata. You see this fragment bundle here.

This integration also had to handle how the Zazl OSGi bundles would be integrated into the Maqetta git repository. The Maqetta git repository use submodules to reference its third-party dependencies. Providing direct submodule links to the Zazl git repositories on github would not work well as Zazl itself has a build step that has to be run. I decided the best way to handle this was to provide Zazl Release git repositories hosted on github.

There are 2 staging repositories:
  1. One contains the build output of Zazl with tags marking specific versions.
  2. The other contains the binary dependencies that Zazl requires to run.
This provides a nice controlled way for Maqetta to be upgraded to new versions of the Zazl Optimizer.

You can try all of this out by loading Maqetta. Developer setup details can be found here. The Preview7 Release, when available, will contain Zazl. It will be found here.

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