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Where are my free JavaBeans?!

Posted by joshy on August 11, 2003 at 5:30 AM PDT

I have a webserver. It's a small box sharing a friend's static DSL
line with a few other boxes. It does the job pretty well, hosting the
websites for my family members. When the blogging revolution hit I wrote
some journaling software for myself. It was written in Perl originally,
later switching to a servlet with XSLTs. This was great for me but not
so great for my sister when she wanted a weblog. She can write HTML and
copy links. That's about it. No javascript and certainly no knowledge of
XSL templating. My solution was to switch to JSPs. I told her as long as
you don't edit these magic tags everything will be fine. All is good
until she says she wants a counter.

Back in the day there used to be these little CGI scripts that you
could dump into your cgi-bin directory and point your users at. They
eventually got more sophisticated, adding security, different fonts, and
other cool features, but for the most part they just did counters. It
was great because the program was small, debugged, did one thing well
and was free. (Some of them even became standards, force their
superior replacments to have backwards compatible APIs)

So, I foolishly figured, there must be the equivalent for Java,
right? I mean, there are a million JSP sites out there. Surely someone
has written the definitive counter as a javabean. Just give it a few
global config parameters like a directory to store the counters and we
are all set. Right? I mean, how hard is it?

Sadly this is not the case. I can't find a counter javabean. A quick
search on google for jsp web counter turns up plenty of free/pay
sites that will host a counter for you or tutorials on how to create a
web counter. Maybe people figure it's just so easy that you can always
do oneoffs, never making a definitive version. Counters are deceptively
easy, but all software has bugs in it. If there is a reusable version
written by someone else I'd rather have that one. (Has the Linux
community spoiled me?)

Next up I just search for JSP sites. I found quite a few with articles.
I found others with code repositories but they all seemed to be lacking.
They each had a small number of components, none of which seem to be
developed well enough to be very reusable. Perhaps if all of these
small sites were aggregated together it would add up to something.

So I have two questions. One, why do so many open source people focus on
programs instead of reusable components (not frameworks, components),
especially given that the audience is primarily programmers. Second, why
isn't there a good clearing house for these reusable components.
Something like download.com for small components instead of full
programs. The closest I've found is href="http://jakarta.apache.org/">jakarta.apache.org, but it's not
comprehensive enough.

I want to be able to go to a particular site and type in web
counter
and get four modules that do it. One with SQL support and
one that just uses file locking. One with text support and one with tons
of images.

When I decide to make my own new component, because nothing out there
does what I want, I want to just go to this site to post it and know
that it will get a large audience, because that's where everyone else
goes?

So why isn't this site in existence? A Freshmeat for smaller bits. The
download.com of components. So many componets are written, often to be
reusable and then thrown away. Can we save them?

- Joshua

PS. Finally typing javabean hitcounter into Google (without the
space between hit and counter) turns up href="http://www.devhood.com/tools/tool_details.aspx?tool_id=605">exactly
what I want:

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