Minimum viable web framework

In some projects I've been working on, there's a small part of common code and thinking that one could call a minimum viable web framework (well, technically, it's a library and not a framework, but I digress). There's absolutely nothing new in it, and if you've ever done even one Servlet app, you know it already. I see that as an advantage.

My minimum viable web framework consists of 8 lines of code and one principle. The code (quoted below) is a static method (on some utility class) that takes a path to which to forward a request, the request and response objects, and then a vararg list of alternating names and values to put as request attributes. The principle is: if something produces any HTML, then that's all that thing does (inverted: if you don't produce HTML, you don't produce HTML). Anything that produces HTML (in my cases, JSPs) only reads values prepared for it from the request attributes (and if you have something that produces some output that isn't HTML, then it's by definition a special case and is exempt from this rule). It's OK to have lists and other simple data structures as request attributes, and it's OK to use simple looping constructs (e.g. a JSTL core forEach) in the rendering, but you can't do things like calling methods from there.

public static void forward(String path, HttpServletRequest request, HttpServletResponse response, Object... attributes)
throws ServletException, IOException 
        for(int i=0; i<attributes.length; i+=2) {
                request.setAttribute((String)attributes[i], attributes[i+1]);
        request.getRequestDispatcher(path).forward(request, response);

Together, the code and the principle give a simple way of keeping application code and page formatting separate, and I've been quite happy with it in my projects. There's a lot of things missing that you might expect a framework to provide (e.g. input validation or data access). I see those as nice to have and that the only essential part of a web framework is facilitating the separation of logic and rendering.

So, what do you think - is this web framework both minimal and viable? If it's not minimal - how can we minimise it? If it's not viable, then what's missing? And last but not least: does it zoom?



At my daytime gig I have come into contact with two applications that really zooms.

One is Splunk and I'm sure the developers of that application drink awesome-sauce for breakfast. It is so awesome I won't even write more about it here because I just don't know what words to use. Suffice it to say that it is a log analysis tool that actually beats 'find, xargs, awk, grep' and all of those.

The other application I've came into contact with is OpenTSDB. OpenTSDB is a time series database, that means you put metrics into it that you want to plot over time. OpenTSDB uses hbase as a database. That is the Apache hadoop database.
OpenTSDB has a web front end for plotting the data points that uses gnuplot. It is rather simplistic as a web front but it is mostly bug free and despite a few little quirks it "just works" exactly like you want it to. It does one thing (send a query to OpenTSDB and plot a PNG-image) and it does it good.

We use OpenTSDB to monitor our servers and applications. We put numbers into it like, how much heap has the server, what is the number of busy threads, how many messages was put on the message queue, what was the response time for each web service call.
It is extremely helpful in monitoring and post-mortem analysis of application behaviour. I mean like, really useful. I can correlate exactly the number of packets the load balancer sends to a certain host at 5s intervals with the number of busy threads, the heap size, the cpu load and a load of application specific metrics extracted from the JVMs using JMX.
The JMX-collector, developed in house, is written by some pretty clever guys to be fast but you can also write one, it isn't that hard. Remember to do everything async. and use caching and you're good to go.

I just can not stress enough how incredibly useful OpenTSDB is for not only monitoring what happens now but what happened that sunday when a couple of servers want haywire and didn't respond. Given the precision of the correlation it is very easy to find the relevant log entries from the time stamps.

To put in to perspective how good opentsdb & hbase is. We dump I would say more than 1 metric/second (usually we poll a specific metric each 5 sec or so - depending on what it is).
From each server, and we have > 35 servers.
To a single opentsdb + hbase server.

And it just freaking works. I can actually see exactly what the heap size was for host X on christmas eve.

Just tonight I installed OpenTSDB on my local machine/server, I don't need it at home but just to pay tribute to it.