XPages in Bluemix (experimental) is live

XPages is now available as an experimental release in Bluemix. As of July 2015, anyone can sign up for a free Bluemix account and try out the new XPages in the cloud capability.

What does Experimental mean?

Within Bluemix there are three levels of capability “completeness”. Experimental, Beta and Production ready. Experimental has no Service Level Agreement, no promise of availability and the code base can change at any time without notice. The reason IBM uses this level of completeness is to test drive an application’s capabilities and to elicit feedback from users. They understand that XPages in Bluemix is different than what we are used to on premesis. There is some getting used to the difference in coding patterns when we want to to “@DbName()” for example is now – bluemixContext.getDataService().findDBName().

So experimental means is that it is not production ready and IBM is honest and open about it. For me, it is better to have something than nothing and exciting to thing that in some small way I might be able to help drive the direction of the platform in this manner. Don’t forget – so can you !

Capabilities

The current version of XPages release on day 1 does not have all the same features as an on premises installation. For one, as a developer you do not have direct access to the server, you do not have programmatic access to the server. Your code will run as a designer, but never as an administrator. You cannot have multiple databases on the same application route. This means that many on premises application cannot just be ported straight to Bluemix. Notes client applications will not run in Bluemix (oh well eh……..)

And at the same time there are features and capabilities within Bluemix that are not available  on premises. Some examples are:

  • Scaling you application and running it on multiple instances
  • Automatic failure and restart if the application crashes (which is does, this is experimental after all)
  • Integration with a multitude of services that do not exist on premises
  • Git source control integration at the click of a button
  • Devops capabilities like:
    • Automatic Build and deploy
    • Monitoring and Diagnostics
    • API Monitoring tools
  • Hybrid capabilities
    • The ability to run an XPage application securely, in the cloud, while accessing data securely through an encrypted tunnel back inside the enterprise.
  • and the list goes on……
  • Watson
  • Twitter
  • and on…..

Feedback for IBM

If you have any questions and or would like to get more information on XPages in Bluemix there are a number of ways you can do that:

So how can I get started?

  • Go to http://www.bluemix,net
  • Sign up for a 30 day free trial
  • Follow the instructions and guides shown below
  • Watch videos, read blogs and learn

I started using Bluemix so that I could prepare for XPages arrival, but also so that I could learn new technologies like nodejs and cloudant. As I mentioned before, I strongly recommend you take this as an opportunity to broaden your horizons and learn something new.

Resources

To get you going here are some resources to check out for more information

Enjoy

 

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Bluemix Monitoring and Analysis – Diagnostics version

In this article I will show how to utilize some aspects of the paid Bleumix Monitoring and Analysis service to look inside the performance of your applications.

State of shock

I am in a state of shock, as I am writing this post I actually broke my application, and used these very tools to figure out why……………..COOL !!!

Introduction

The paid version of Bluemix monitoring and analysis costs $0.03 per application her hour – which equates to about $21 a month per app. Once you turn this on it starts charging – and this is completely outside of the 375GB/Hour free cost. In a week I racked up $5 in charges cos I went away for an extended weekend.

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I hooked that up to my application and immediately started to see more information about it than the free package

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Clicking on the Diagnose button gives me access to more information about my slowest requests

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Click on one of the request name options then shows me more information about the response time of that item

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So how did I break the application?

I am putting together a websockets demo for MWLUG and as part of looking at this monitoring service I started to refresh my website repeatedly, quickly in multiple browsers. This blew up the application and it crashed

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Out of memory……weird – how come?

Well as I look at the monitoring tools I can clearly see that the baseline application with no one using it – was hovering over 100M

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So clearly we need to add more memory

Go CLOUD

All this preaching about scaling and paying for what you need is all well and good until you actually see it happen. In less than 30 seconds I have more memory applied

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and after a quick restart – we can see that we are now not pushing the limit of allocated memory

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This is fantastic – because I plan to do a live demo of this application in a room full of people next month – there is a really good chance that this would have crashed when 30 people connected to it – and now there isn’t – and that is freaking awesome !!!!

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Marky and John on tour in D.C. next week: 2015-07-28

Next week on Tuesday (July 28th), John Head and I will be in the Maryland / D.C / Virginia area and we would love to talk to Domino/XPages/Modern Web Apps teams about their projects and plans for the future of the platform. This is not intended to be a “can you fix this code for me” kinda trip, but more of a strategic learning experience.

If anyone is interested in meeting up please ping me marky @ myblogname . com

Bluemix Monitoring and Analytics – free service

In this article I will introduce the free IBM Bluemix Monitoring and Analytics service and show some of the available information.

Monitoring and Analytics

From the Bluemix Dashboard select one of your node applications and then “Add a new Service” – scroll down until you find the DevOps section and select Monitoring and Analysis.

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There are two opens – Free and not Free, in this case we are going to select free.

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Once added you have to restage the application

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Once the application is restaged we can access the service from the dashboard – and initially there will be very little of interest/use.

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But over time you will start to see information build up about how your application is performing within Bluemix. In this case I am using an example from http://pscportal.mybluemix.net – which if you click on the link you will find nothing – that is because I purposefully have nothing running on the root. What is fascinating is how the monitoring shows this and other interesting information.

Once you have added the service you can bind it to all your applications and it will monitor all of them separately.

Investigating a crash

Apparently the application crashed overnight

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So I wondered what the monitoring said

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Apparently the application went from zero CPU usage to DEAD right at 3:24am. But what is also really cool and apparent is that the application self healed and restarted itself – how freaking-cloud-cool is that !!

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The application is never available – well that is as I would expect – the root has no node path responding to it. There are other routes within the application which work – but not that one.

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Looking at the logs we can see that something happened but not much information as to what. I do not have any logging built into the application yet – but I will have to work on that.

XPages

Unfortunately the whole suite of monitoring is not available for XPages yet – I bound the service to my XPages application and all that was visible was he availability. This is still better than nothing.

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The not free version

https://www.ng.bluemix.net/docs/services/monana/index.html#monana_paid_feat_c

“You can use the Request Summary dashboard to identify the requests with the slowest response times and use the widgets to drill down and identify blockages. To open the Request Summary dashboard, open theMonitoring and Analytics service, click on the Performance tab and click Diagnose.”

Sounds interesting…….

Conclusion

Doing “DevOps” means constant monitoring of you application. The trick will be to take action based on the monitoring – we will see if we can do that and I will keep watching these logs over time to see what happens to the applications. Admittedly there are next to no users at all – but hey we will see.

 

 

 

 

XPages in Bluemix – Pushing new changes via Bluemix git repository

In this article I will look at modifying the out of the box boilerplate application and starting to look at the tooling around the new XPages in Bluemix capability. I will specifically talk about the use of the Bluemix integrated git repository.

Introduction

In the previous article I walked through the basic steps of creating the boilerplate XPages application in Bluemix. So let’s look at what we created and how we can mess with it 🙂

The Dashboard

Looking at the dashboard for our new boilerplate application we can start to see a number of items. On the top right there is an option to Add Git

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Continuing will create a git repository within the Bluemix integrated jazz hub repository. Once complete you will see a link to the new repo

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Clicking on the link will take you to the repo page

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We can immediately see from this image that it is not quite what we normally expect from a “source control repo” for XPages development. The entire NSF is part of the repo……but let’s go with it.

Click on the “Git URL” link to get the URL for the repo

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I use source tree for this part of the process – Clone New and use the URL for the repo – you will have to log into IBM as well

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Once complete you will have the repo locally – it can then be opened in Domino Designer

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As we have seen before – we have the to do boilerplate application – to which we can add a new simple XPage

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Note

You must be using the notes ID provided by bluemix for your notes applications.

Build and then close the application in designer

Within Sourcetree – we commit the changes in the master branch and push to repo

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Once that is complete we can refresh the jazz hub repo page and see the committed change

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When we created this repo in Bluemix, the automatic build and deploy tasks were created as well – so clicking on the “Build and Deploy” tab on the top right takes us the deploy page where we can see this in action

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Once that is complete we can go over to our application http://hub.mybluemix.net/ToDo_design.nsf/marky.xsp and there it is

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Conclusion

Using this method we are able to upload a new XPage into the application without using the built in tooling in OpenNTF release v13

Caveats

I did have a build issue, don’t know why (experimental code) but clicking the redeploy button fixed it.

Don’t forget to build before you send to Bleumix (duh Marky)

I am not sure I recommend this manner of deploying an application to Bluemix via this method – I just wanted to see if it was possible.

 

 

 

XPages in Bluemix – Looking at the application dashboard

In this article I will explain the XPages in Bluemix application dashboard and what is available to the developer from the Bluemix web interface.

The Dashboard

Once you have created your new XPages application in Bluemix it will appear on the “Dashboard” with a weird spacecraft for an icon.

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Clicking on the box will review a lot about your application

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Link to the application

Clicking on the link at the top left will open your application in a new window

Clicking on the pencil next to it allows you to edit and / or create an additional subdomain for the application (yes it can have many)

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Add Git

Clicking on this link will automatically create a source control site for this application

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Memory allocated ($$$)

By default the application has 512M allocated to it. Once XPages in Bluemix goes live this will become more significant – this is the number by which Bluemix determines how much you get charged each month. Throughout Bluemix you are charged by the GigaByte hour. That is the number of Gigabytes utilized by a running application each hour. so in this case 512M for an hour is 0.5 Gigabyte hours. Over a typical month that is 720 hours, or 360GBHours. The free allocation is typically 375hours. So this one application running for a month is all you would have “free”. You can reduce this value through the menu, but what you need will be based on your application. Right now (July 2015) XPages is free – keep an eye on it !!!

VCAP services

On the bottom of the smaller box for IBM XPages NoSQL Database you will see a down arrow – if you click on it you will see what are called the “VCAP” services. These are the Cloud Foundry Environmental Variables.

“Environment variables are the means by which the Cloud Foundry runtime communicates with a deployed application about its environment. This page describes the environment variables that Droplet Execution Agents (DEAs) and buildpacks set for applications.”

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This JSON construct is critical to telling Bluemix how the XPages boilerplate application works. When you use the self selection to deploy the application all this information is created on the fly. Looking at the labels for the data they should be relatively self explanatory for a Domino developer.

 

 

 

 

 

XPages in Bluemix – where is the design and where is the data?

Digging into the code for the example database – aaaah memories – but I digress…..as normal I am mostly blogging this for my own notes and if someone else happens to get something out of it – great 😀

Design and Data are separate?

So the design and the data are separate – well kinda – in fact “some” of the design is separate and “all” of the data is. Following the instructions on how to deploy the starter code and mess with it I managed to change the database and add a new XPage.

BTW for those who cannot find “Start Coding” it is here….took me ages to find it in front of my nose

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Notes client

So the database look like this in the notes client – pretty normal

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and viewing the design of this database we can see forms, views and No XPages of worth

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The data can be changed through the notes client and immediately represented on the website

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The Design

Looking at the boilerplate code which was downloaded from starter code we can see – no data, no form, no views – but there are the XPages

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New design elements

So I created a XPage in the Design database and followed the instructions on deploying the new code – it worked

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Adding a new form to the VIEW database, failed.

Adding a new form to the DESIGN database worked just fine

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Conclusion – So where is everything again?

Views and Data are in the NoSQL database

XPages and Forms and in the Design database

There is a lot to learn here……..and a lot of questions….