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Bitter EJB

Posted by glv on June 10, 2003 at 4:46 PM PDT

(This is a long blog entry ... you have been warned.)

Big conferences like JavaOne are always accompanied by the introduction of new books. This time's no exception.

I stopped by the JDOCentral booth to visit my friend Patrick Linskey
of SolarMetric, and he
surprised me with a free copy of Bitter EJB, the
new book he wrote with Bruce Tate, Mike Clark, and Bob Lee. I'm very
pleased to have it, because early glimpses of some chapters have been
posted on The Server
Side
, and it looks even better than Bruce's original href="http://www.manning.com/tate/index.html">Bitter Java.

With apologies to Patrick, the first chapter I turned to was Mike
Clark's "Bitter Tunes," about performance tuning for EJBs. Mike and
I have an interesting history. Last year I gave a talk at JavaOne
called "Stalking Your Shadow: Adventures in Garbage Collection
Optimization," and about two months later I gave the same talk at a
No Fluff, Just Stuff
symposium in Dallas. The talk may sound extremely technical and
arcane, but it's actually a "stealth agile" talk, in which I use the
complexity of GC interaction and optimization to advocate a tightly
iterative approach to optimization -- avoiding both premature and "way
too late" optimization by developing iteratively and building
performance testing into your development process.

In the talk, I recommend using a package called JUnitPerf to automate
performance testing and integrate it into your build and test
process. In Dallas, I got to that slide and heard "Thanks! I'll pay
you later" from the back of the room. That's how I met Mike
Clark, the author of JUnitPerf. And I'm glad I did, because he's
one of my favorite folks in the industry.

Mike and I independently began delivering the same message: although
the hazards of premature optimization are well known, it's also
possible -- easy, in fact -- to wait too long, and only learn about
performance issues at a stage when they're so deeply embedded in your
architecture that it's all but impossible to eliminate them.
JUnitPerf is designed to help with that, making automated performance
testing an easy and repeatable task, so that you can find performance
problems as soon as they appear and deal with them before it's too
late.

The first antipattern in Mike's "Bitter Tunes" chapter is "Premature
Optimization" (and rightly so, because many developers still need to
hear that message). But the solution to premature optimization isn't
to just wait 'til the end of the project; it's to wait until you see
real performance problems, and then attack them as soon as possible. So the second of Mike's antipatterns is
"Performance Afterthoughts," and the solution is "Plan Early and
Often" (a title I really like). Mike's advice applies not just to
EJB projects, but to all software projects.

I've focused here on one chapter of Bitter EJB, but from
what I've seen, the rest of the book is just as great, and our
industry has needed a book like this for quite a while now. You owe
it to yourself to buy a copy.

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