Trifork Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Java’

GOTO Night on Functional Thinking

November 14th, 2014 by


Monday, the 17th of November GOTO organizes a new GOTO night in Amsterdam and what a session this will be!

The evening starts with a lot of pizza to satisfy the hunger. Beware though, food for thought might come from the other great minds you can share dinner with. It's all about meeting new people and sharing your passion!

After the pizza we have 2 speakers who are able to blow you away. First we have Eelco Visser who will explain the principles and techniques for designing and implementing software languages. He will show how Spoofax helps us in creating our own languages.

Our second speaker is Neal Ford. He will explain the paradigm shift to get from an imperative programmer to a functional programmer. He will give examples in Java, Clojure and Scala. Expect to be amazed.

Be quick!

Boarding is almost finished and the room is already packed. Who will fill the last few seats for a full house? Register now using this link and see you on monday!


Dynamic web forms with AngularJS

April 3rd, 2014 by


When we're building web applications containing data entry forms, it's sometimes a requirement that (part of) the form is dynamic, in the sense that the fields to be included in the form need to be determined at runtime. For instance, this may be required if application managers need to be able to add new data fields quickly through a management console, without support by a programmer.

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Web forms with Java: AngularJS and other approaches

March 20th, 2014 by


After learning about AngularJS a couple of months ago, I started using it on new Java web projects, and that has been a great pleasure. If you haven't worked with AngularJS yet, you may be wondering what the hype is all about and whether or not it's a thing worthwhile of investing your time in. In this blog, I'd like to put some of the merits of AngularJS in the spotlights, by comparing it to some other approaches for web application programming in the Java world.

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Using Docker to efficiently create multiple tomcat instances

August 15th, 2013 by

Docker-logoIn my previous blog article I gave a short introduction into Docker ("an open-source engine that automates the deployment of any application as a lightweight, portable, self-sufficient container that will run virtually anywhere"). In this article we'll check out how to create an image for Tomcat 7 and the Java 7 JDK as dependency.

So, let's go ahead and do some 'coding'. First, you need to install docker. Instructions can be found here. I already mentioned you need a Linux system with a modern kernel, so if you happen to be a Mac or Windows user, there are instructions on linked pages on how to use Vagrant to easily setup a virtual machine (VM) to use. For now we'll work locally, but once you start installing servers you might find the Chef project to install docker useful as well.

As a first step after installation, let's pick the first example from the Docker getting started page and create an Ubuntu 12.04 container, with completely separated processes, its own file system and its own network interface (but with network connection via the host), and have it print "hello world". Do this by running

docker run ubuntu /bin/echo hello world

Cool huh? You probably just ran something on a different OS than that of your own machine or (in case you're on Windows/Mac) the VM in which Docker is running! In this command ubuntu defines the image (found automatically as it is one of the standard images supplied by Docker). The run command creates an instance of the image (a container), feeding it /bin/echo hello world as the command to execute.

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QCon London 2013 - Simplicity, complexity and doodles

March 21st, 2013 by

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey - View from the Queen Elizabeth II conference center

...and now back home

On my desk lies a stack of notepads from the QCon sponsors. I pick up one of them and turn few pages trying to decipher my own handwriting. As I read my notes I reflect back on the conference. QCon had a great line up and awesome keynote speakers: Turing award winner Barbara Liskov, Ward Cunningham, inventor of the Wiki, and of course Damian Conway who gave two highly entertaining keynotes. My colleague Sven Johann and I were at QCon for three days. We attended a few talks together but also went our own way from time to time. Below I discuss the talks I attended that Sven didn't cover in his QCon blog from last week.

Ideas not art: drawing out solutions - Heather Willems

The first talk I cover has nothing to do with software technology but with communication. Heather Willems shows us the value of communicating ideas visually. She started the talk with an entertaining discussion of the benefits of drawing in knowledge work. Diagrams and visuals help us to retain information and helps group discussion. The short of it: it's OK to doodle. In fact it is encouraged!

The second part of the talk was a mini-workshop where we learned how to create our own icons and draw faces expressing basic emotions. These icons can form the building blocks of bigger diagrams. Earlier in the day Heather made a graphic recording of Barbara Liskov's keynote. In real-time: Heather was drawing on-the-spot based on what Barbara was talking about!

Graphic recording keynote Barbara Liskov

Graphic recording of Barbara Liskov's keynote 'The power of abstraction'

You are not a software developer! - Russel Miles

Thought provoking talk by Russel Miles about simplicity in problem solving. His main message: in the last decade we learned to deliver software quite well and now face a different problem: overproduction. Problems can often be solved much easier or without writing software at all. Russel argues that software developers find requirements boring, yet they have the drive to code, hence they sometimes create complex, over-engineered solutions.

He also warns of oversimplifying: a solution so simple that the value we seek is lost. His concluding remark relates to a key tenet of Agile development: delivering valuable software frequently. He proposes to instead focus on 'delivering valuable change frequently'. Work on the change you want to accomplish rather than cranking out new features. These ideas are related to the concepts of impact mapping, which he used to structure the presentation itself, he revealed in the end :-)

Want to see Russel live? He will be giving an updated version of this presentation at a GOTO night in Amsterdam on May 14 and he'll be speaking at GOTO Amsterdam in June too.

The inevitability of failure - Dave Cliff

In this talk professor Dave Cliff of the Large Scale Complex IT systems group at University of Bristol warns us about the evergrowing complexity in large scale software systems. Especially automated traders in financial markets. Dave mentions recent stock market crashes as failures. These failures did not make big waves in the news, but could have had catastrophic effects if the market did not recover properly. He discusses an interesting concept, normalization of deviance.

Everytime a safety margin is crossed without problems it is likely that the safety margin will be ignored in the future. He argues that we were quite lucky with the temporary market crashes. Because of 'normalization of defiance' it's only a matter of time before a serious failure occurs. Unfortunately I missed an overview of ways to prevent these kind of problems. If they can be prevented at all. A principle from cybernetics, Ashby's law of requisite variety, says that a system can only be controlled if the controller has enough variety in it's actions to compensate any behaviour of the system to be controlled. In a financial market, with many interacting traders, human or not, this isn't the case.

Performance testing Java applications - Martin Thompson

Informative talk about performance testing Java applications. Starts with fundamental definitions and covers tools and approaches on how to do all sorts of performance testing. Martin proposes to use a red-green-debug-profile-refactor cycle in order to really know what is happening with your code and how it performs. Another takeway is the difference between performance testing and optimization. Yes, defer optimization until you need it. But this is not a reason not to know the boundaries of your system. When load testing, use a framework that spends little time on parsing requests and responses. All good points and I'll have to read his slides again later for all the links to the tools he suggests for performance testing.

Insanely Better Presentations - Damian Conway

Great talk on how to give presentations. Damian shows examples of bad slides and refactors them during his talk. He discusses fear of public speaking, how to properly prepare a talk, a lot of great tips! I won't do the talk justice by describing it in text. Many of Conway's ideas have to be seen live to make sense. Nevertheless there is a method to the madness:

  • Dump everything you know on the subject
  • Decide on 5 main points and create storyline that flows between them
  • Toss out everything that does not fit the storyline
  • Simplicity - show less content, on more slides
  • Use highlighting for code walkthroughs
  • Use animations to show code refactorings
  • Get rid of distractions
  • The most important part of a presentation is person-to-person communication!
  • Practice in front of an audience at least 3 times. Even if it is just your cat.

Visualization with HTML 5 - Dio Synodinos

In this tour of technologies for visualizing data, Dio showed everything from CSS3 to SVG, processing and D3js. For each of these he gave a good overview of their pros and cons and made specific animations and demos for all of them. He also mentioned pure CSS3 iOS icons. Lot's of eye candy and from reading the #QconLondon Twitter stream it seems a few people liked to try out all these frameworks and technologies.

Coffee breaks

Thankfully, there were plenty of coffee breaks at the conference. During breaks I often bumped into Sejal and Daphne, as well as other Triforkers from both our Zurich & Aarhaus offices. Besides attending talks we went to a nice conference party and went out to dinner a few times. Between talks Sven and I meetup and had a chat about what we saw, whilst we grabbed some delicious cookies here and there. Unfortunately the chocolate chip ones were gone most of the time!


At one point I took the elevator to the top floor. On my right is a large table covered with techy books. Conference goers try to walk by, but look over and can't help but gravitate to this mountain of tech information. Of course I couldn't resist either so I browsed a bit and finally bought 'Team Geek - A software developer's guide to working well with others'. Later on I visit the web development open space. I listen in on a few conversations and end up chatting with James and Kathy, the camera operators, while they are packing their stuff. They have been filming all the talks for the last three days and we talk a bit about the conference until the place closes down.

All in all QCon London 2013 was a great conference!

Introducing the elasticshell

March 6th, 2013 by

A few days ago I released the first beta version of the elasticshell, a shell for elasticsearch. The idea I had was to create a command line tool that allows you to easily interact with elasticsearch.

Isn't elasticsearch easy enough already?
I really do think elasticsearch is already great and really easy to use. However, on the other hand there is quite some API available and quite some json involved too. Also, interacting with REST APIs requires a tool other than the browser to use the proper http methods and so on. There are different solutions available: some of them are generic, like curl or browser plugins, while others are elasticsearch plugins like head or sense, that you can use to send json requests and see the result, still in json format. What was missing is a command line tool, something that plays the role of the mongo shell in the elasticsearch world. That's ambitious, isn't it?

In the meantime the es2unix tool has been released by Drew, a member of the elasticsearch team. The interesting approach taken there is to hide all the json and show only text in a nice tabular format, providing an executable command that makes possible to pipe its output to other unix commands like grep, sort and awk. That's a great idea, and an even greater result I must say.

A json friendly environment
I decided to take another approach: provide an environment that makes it easier to play around with all that json. That's why I started writing a javascript shell, where json is native and it's relatively easy to provide auto-suggestions directly within json objects. I also wanted to use the elasticsearch Java API, which are complete, performant, and powerful, allowing to even fire a new node if needed.
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Prepare for the Storm and be saved by Puppet!

February 28th, 2013 by


After a highly successful edition of the GOTO Night in December with Timan Rebel and Erik Meijer, we are happy to announce the next GOTO Night that will take place on March 7 2013.

This time at the Trifork office in Amsterdam on March 7 we have two great technical presentations lined up:

  1. Within the eye of the Storm (Introduction to Storm framework) // Sjoerd Mulder from Persuasion API
  2. Using Puppet, Foreman and Git to Develop and Operate a Large Scale Internet Service (in this case eBuddy) // by Joost van de Wijgerd from eBuddy

Here is just a little taster of what what they said their presentations will cover:

Sjoerd: "Curious about the Storm Framework? Storm is a distributed real-time computation system. It's new and exciting and you might have heard about it and have some questions about it. How does it work? What are its use-cases? How do I get started? What are the differences with Hadoop? How can I run it in production? How do I connect it with product XYZ?". This is what I will cover and show you how you can get started with Storm, including some live coding, and I'll even cover how you can use Storm in production”. Read more about Sjoerd & his session in detail and sign up now.

Joost: At eBuddy we are implementing DevOps and in this talk I would like to introduce our current setup. We use Foreman in combination with Puppet and a Custom Git based Configuration Management solution to manage our Infrastructure and the Services running on top of it. My talk will be centered around Foreman and Puppet and I will show how we use these tools to do deployments, scale out our clusters and configure new machines on the fly. Read more about Joost & his session in detail and sign up now.

Just before we dive into the beers, Dan Roden, our special guest from the Program Committee for GOTO Amsterdam, will present a short teaser for his sessions & track Emerging Interfaces at the GOTO Amsterdam event.

So sign up and join us on March 7 at 18.00 for great talks, free beers & pizza at Trifork.


We are already proud to have some great sponsors onboard, including 42, Appdynamics, Basho, Hippo, Neo4J & Zilverline to name a few, if you are interested contact me, Daphne Keislair or visit the event website.

Summer time...

September 4th, 2012 by

For those you may have missed our newsletter last week I'd like to take this opportunity to give you a quick lowdown of what we've been up to. The summer months have been far from quiet and I'm pretty excited to share in this month’s edition lots of news on projects, products & upcoming events.

Hippo & Orange11

hippo logoThe countdown has begun for the launch of The University of Amsterdam online platform. Built by Orange11 with the use of Hippo CMS the website developed with multi-platform functionality in mind is a masterpiece of technology all woven together. We’ll keep you posted about the tips & tricks we implemented.

If you can’t wait until then and want more information, contact Jan-Willem van Roekel.

Mobile Apps; just part of the service!

new motion appWe mentioned in our last newsletter the launch of Learn to write with Tracy. Well since then we’ve been working on apps for many customers including for example The New Motion, a company dedicated to the use of Electric Vehicles. Orange11 has developed an iPhone app that allows users to view or search load locations (in list or map form) and even check real-time availability of these.

ysis screenAnother example is the app for GeriMedica;Ysis Mobiel, a mobile addition to their existing Electronic Health Record database used largely in Geriatric care (also an Orange11 project). The mobile app supports specific work processes allows registered users to document (in line with the strict regulations) all patient related interaction through a simple 3-step logging process. A registration overview screen also shows the latest activities registered, which prevents co-workers from accidentally registering the same activity twice.

Visit our website for more on our mobile expertise.

Orange11 & MongoDB 

mongoDB logo

We’ve got tons of exciting things going on with MongoDB as trusted implementation partner so here are a few highlights:

Brown bag sessions

Since the launch of our brown bag sessions we’re excited that so many companies are interested to find out more this innovative open source document database. What we offer is a 60 minute slot with an Orange11 & MongoDB expert, who can educate & demonstrate MongoDB best practices & cover how it can be used in practice. It’s our sneak preview to you of the host of opportunities there are with MongoDB.

Sign up now!

Tech meeting / User Group Meeting

As a partner we’re also proud to host the next user group session on Thursday 6th September, whereby Chief Technical Director, Alvin Richards will be here to cover all the product ins & outs and share some use cases.

Don’t miss out & join usas always it’s free & pizza and cold beer on the house!

Coffee Cookies, Conversation & Customers

Last week we invited some of our customers to a brainstorm session around the new Cookie Law in the Netherlands. Together with Eric Verhelst, a lawyer specialized in the IT industry, Intellectual Property, Internet and Privacy we provided our customers with legal insight and discussed what their concerns & ideas were around solutions. If you have any questions around the new cookie law and are looking for advice, answers & solutions, contact Peter Meijer.

ElasticSearch has just got bigger

es logoCongratulations to our former CEO, Steven Schuurman who announced his new venture:ElasticSearch, the company. The company's product "elasticsearch", is an innovative and advanced open source distributed search engine. The combination of Steven joining forces with elasticsearch founder & originator Shay Banon and his background as co-founder of SpringSource, the company behind the popular Spring Framework, (also close to our heart at Orange11) it’s bound to be a great success. The company offers users and potential users of elasticsearch a definitive source for support, education and guidance with respect to developing, deploying and running elasticsearch in production environments. As Search remains a key focus area for Orange11, with our experience in both Solr and elasticsearch, our customers are guaranteed the best search solution available. For more info contact Bram Smeets. 

Our team is getting bigger & better

beach eventsWe’re happy to welcome Michel Vermeulen to the team this month. Michel is an experienced Project Manager and will further professionalize our agile development organization. We also have new talent starting next month, BUT there is room for more.

So if you’re a developer and wanna work on great project with a fun team (left: snapshot from our company beach event) then call Bram Smeets now.

That's all for now folks....

Creating a mobile version of your website with Spring Mobile and Sitemesh

May 3rd, 2012 by

About a year ago I developed an Android app for my website, but as not everybody has an Android device I wanted to create a mobile version of my website. In the mobile version I want to present slightly different data to make it look more like the app. In this post I will show you how I have used Spring mobile to determine which version of the site the user wants to visit and how I used Sitemesh to select the correct decorator.

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Apache Whirr includes Mahout support

December 22nd, 2011 by

In a previous blog I showed you how to use Apache Whirr to launch a Hadoop cluster in order to run Mahout jobs. This blog shows you how to use the Mahout service from the brand new Whirr 0.7.0 release to automatically install Hadoop and the Mahout binary distribution on a cloud provider such as Amazon.


If you are new to Apache Whirr checkout my previous blog which covers Whirr 0.4.0. A lot has changed since then. After several services, bug fixes, improvements Whirr became a top level Apache project with its new version 0.7.0 released yesterday! During the last weeks I worked on a Apache Mahout service for Whirr included in the latest release. (Thanks to the Whirr community and Andrei Savu in particular for reviewing the code and helping out to ship this cool feature!)

How to use the Mahout service

The Mahout service in Whirr defines the mahout-client role. This role will install the binary Mahout distribution on a given node. To use this feature checkout the sources from or or clone the project with Git at and build it with a mvn clean install. Let me walk you through an example how to use this on Amazon AWS.

Step 1 Create a node template

Create a file called and add the following

whirr.instance-templates=1 hadoop-jobtracker+hadoop-namenode+mahout-client,2 hadoop-datanode+hadoop-tasktracker


This setup configures two Hadoop datanode / tasktrackers and one Hadoop namenode / jobtracker / mahout-client node. For the mahout- client role, Whirr will:

* Download the binary distribution from Apache and install it under /usr/local/mahout

* Set MAHOUT_HOME to /usr/local/mahout

* Add $MAHOUT_HOME/bin to the PATH

(Optional) Configure the Mahout version and / or distribution url

By default, Whirr will download the Mahout distribution from
You can override the version by adding

Also, you can change the download url entirely; useful if you want to test your own version of Mahout. To do so, first create a Mahout binary distribution by entering the mahout distribution folder in your checked out Mahout source tree and run

$ mvn clean install -Dskip.mahout.distribution=false

Now put the tarball on a server that will be accessible by the cluster and add the following line to your


Step 2 Launch the cluster

You can now launch the cluster the regular way by running:

$ whirr launch-cluster --config

Step 3 Login & run

When the cluster is setup, run the Hadoop proxy, upload some data, SSH into the node and voilà, you can run Mahout jobs by invoking the command line script like you would do normally, such as:

$ mahout seqdirectory --input input --output output