"Anticipation is making me wait."
This is my first article devoted entirely to Version 5 of the WebSphere Studio Development Client for iSeries (WDSci). And "anticipation" is definitely a key word for the entire experience thus far, both pre- and post-installation. I had a few issues getting the software, but the fine folks at IBM got that all straightened out. From what I understand, they simply underestimated the demand these tools would generate. Little did they know just how thirsty we old green-screen dinosaurs are for tools that will help us present a better face for our business logic! As to anticipation during and after installation, that's today's topic.
Once my disks arrived, it was time to install and test the new version of WDSci. While I had planned on installing and then testing several features and letting you know how things went, as it turns out, just installing the software and making sure it's running correctly is a pretty big topic in and of itself. In this article, I will cover...
1. Prerequisites, including how and where to get the required fix packs
2. Installation, Phase 1: Base WDSci
3. Installation, Phase 2: Installing "classic" WDT (CODE and VARPG)
4. Installation, Phase 3: Applying the required fix packs
5. Downloading the IBM WDSci tutorial (didn't know there was one, did you?)
6. Running a demo project using the test environment
7. Deploying a demo project to the host
Remember that there are now two versions of WDSci--Standard and Advanced Edition. This article is geared toward the Standard Edition of WDSci V5. I'm assuming (and that's a dangerous thing) that the Advanced Edition follows a similar course. If anyone who has installed the Advanced Edition sees any glaring omissions, please let me know, and I'll post follow-up information on the forums and in a later column.
First, make sure you have all the required disks. The disks are labeled "IBM WebSphere Development Studio Client for iSeries" with "Version 5.0" on the left side. There are four CDs, marked Disk 1 through Disk 4, and a single DVD marked DVD. Here, I'll be using the DVD disk.
The Fix Is In
Before you start installation, you need to have the proper fix pack. Update, upgrade, PTF, whatever you want to call it--this package consists of three files containing over 250 MB of bug fixes that make the shipped software work properly.
Note to IBM: I strongly suggest that you work on getting the first release correct. At the very least, once you have identified required fixes, you should burn new CDs with the latest software. Making us install from CD and then download and apply patches is no way to treat your loyal customers. However, the WDSc team asked that I cut them a little slack because of the sheer amount of new code in this particular release, and I'm inclined to agree with them. I only ask that this not become a trend.
You'll need to go to this page to download the software. You have to download different files, depending on whether you're running the Standard or Advanced Edition. (I'm not sure I like having two editions, but if the Advanced Edition generates additional revenue that helps support the development of the Standard Edition, then I guess we all win.) At the bottom of the page, you will find a table like the one shown below. The files for the Standard Edition are marked in bold.
I've indicated in bold the files that need to be downloaded for the Standard Edition. Beware: This is a lot of code. On a 384K DSL connection, it's two hours of download time. A 56K dialup is 12 to 14 hours.
Make sure to uninstall any other versions of WDSc you might have on your machine. Be prepared: Installing and uninstalling take a long time. On my laptop (which one would expect is a typical environment--2.4 GHz P4, 512 MB memory, 40 GB hard drive), uninstalling the beta version of WDSc Advanced took nearly an hour. This is an unusually long time for such a procedure. Not only that, the Add/Remove Programs box locked up after the uninstall completed. I had to go in and kill a process call "wdtirbot.exe" to get Add/Remove back.
Installation, Phase 1: Base WDSci
Those nits aside, let's return to the installation. I began this process a little after 3:00 p.m., thinking I'd be done by 5:00 at the latest. This was not to be. As I noted, uninstalling the beta of WDSc Advanced took nearly an hour, so it was just after 4:00 when I began the install, which took several hours.
4:05 Cleaned up leftovers from uninstall--registry, folders, and so on.
4:21 Started installation. Don't be surprised when you see that you are installing WebSphere Studio Site Developer. Remember, WDSci is a superset of WSSD (which is, in turn, a superset of Eclipse).
4:23 I was prompted for desired features. As shipped, WDSci defaults to only a WebSphere Application Server 5.0 Base environment, but I wanted to include the WAS4 and WAS5X as well. I also included the plug-in development examples.
4:24 The installation process actually began.
5:02 I thought the installation was complete, but instead, another installer window came up. A splash screen identified this as Phase 2 of the installation, and the title on the install window was "Installing IBM WebSphere Development Studio Client for iSeries."
5:07 After Phase 2 finished, another installer window came up. I assume (although I saw no message to that effect) that this was Phase 3 of the installation. It was also titled "Installing IBM WebSphere Development Studio Client for iSeries."
5:13 Installation completed! It was time to register the product. Interesting--no place in "type of business" for "Software Development," so I chose "Consulting." And no, I didn't want to register information about my machine. Besides, the program seemed to think that Windows 2000 is "Windows NT5 Build 2195."
5:19 Ready to rock and roll with Installation, Phase 2.
Installation, Phase 2: Installing "Classic" WDT
I was ready to go ahead with the patches when a window popped up. It gave me several options, including start the product, install CODE and VARPG, or check for PTFs. Well, I wasn't expecting that, so I returned to the DVD to bring up the documentation. There's no documentation per se on the disk--just the setup program--so I ran that and went through the Readme. Nothing there. But the installation notes had more pertinent information. Inside, I read that CODE and VARPG were no longer automatically installed and that I would need to do this myself if I wanted to enable them. I'm not sure why these options aren't included with the normal "select features" part of the installation wizard, but no big deal. So I closed the window. And unfortunately, in so doing, I somehow managed to close the window that was asking me to install CODE. And there was no clear way to bring that particular screen back up. So I rebooted, hoping the product would sense that it had not finished the installation process, but no dice.
Luckily, though, there was an option in the Start menu under the newly added IBM WebSphere Studio group that would allow me to complete that installation. I got a kick out of the fact that the option is called setup.exe in a folder called "wdscinstallclassic." "Classic" WDT...love it! I selected that option.
The time was 5:31.
What came up was another standard Windows installer with the title "IBM WebSphere Development Studio Client for iSeries." It began its process, and I sat and waited. During the first few minutes, the status bar made it seem that this might take some 30 minutes. Luckily, that wasn't the case; it only took seven minutes. That does bring up a disturbing statistic, however: Installing the classic pieces took seven minutes, while installing WDSci took 58. This is not a trend I'd like to see continue.
Installation, Phase 3: The Fix Packs
So now I was on to the next bit. Following the instructions on the IBM Web page I mentioned earlier, I created the appropriate folders and started the updates.
5:43 I created folder "wdsc install" on my desktop and created subfolders i1, i2, and i3 in that folder. I moved wdsc50sp0.exe to i1, wdsc501.zip to i2, and wssitedev_501.zip to i3.
5:50 After reading the Web page several times, I decided it was safe to install the first piece. Using Windows explorer, I went into the i1 folder and double-clicked on wdsc50sp0.exe. When the self-extraction dialog came up, I clicked on unzip, and the package unzipped itself. It then ran something without my intervention (I could tell because at least one command window popped into and out of existence). So that part was done.
5:51 Next, I set up the other two folders. This part was very confusing, so there's a little lag here. The confusion is that the patch includes two files, one named wdsc501.zip and one named wssitedev.zip. However, the instructions point you to a page (click on "Method 1 – Installing from CD") that talks about installing three types of fixes: WebSphere Development Studio Client, WebSphere Studio Site Developer, and WebSphere Studio Site Developer Product. What is the difference between the last two options, and which does wssitedev.zip fall under? Nothing on the page makes this clear, and even though I did some reading to try to figure it out ahead of time, there was no information. I decided to continue on and see if something would present itself.
6:03 A tickle in my head told me that maybe wssitedev.zip was supposed to be used for both of the last two steps, although there was absolutely nothing corroborating this sudden insight.
6:06 By now, I had expanded everything and was ready to go. I started the tool by using the option on the Start Menu. It asked me where I wanted my workspace to be, and I told it to use the default directory.
6:08 Up came the screen. It was time to start the update. I followed the instructions on the update page, except that I pointed to my temporary folder rather than the CD-ROM. That meant going to "C:Documents and SettingJoe PlutaDesktopwdsc installi2" for the WDSci updates. After triple-checking everything, I started the update. Step 8 was counterintuitive because it told me specifically not to check the unchecked box. But I didn't, and everything seemed to install just fine. I also did not take the option to restart the workbench. I would do this after installing the third patch.
6:17 With the installation complete, I moved on to the WebSphere Studio Site Developer zip file in the i3 folder. As it turns out, my insight was correct: The zip file contains the patches for both WebSphere Studio Site Developer and WebSphere Studio Site Developer Product. (Much worrying about nothing.) I began to install the WSSD Base fixes.
6:19 Done. I began to install the WSSD Product fixes (this is quite a bit bigger).
6:23 All patches were applied, so I restarted the workbench.
6:25 Went into Help "About Eclipse" and saw that I was still at Version 5.0. A little concerned at this point, I clicked on "Feature Details" and saw at the top of the list that WebSphere Development Studio Client for iSeries was at Version 5.0.1. It would be kind of nice to see this in the first screen, especially since other IBM features are at release 5.0.2 or even 5.0.3!
Finished! The product was installed. It took nearly 3.5 hours, and at several points the process was not particularly intuitive. However, I managed. The next thing was to actually use the product. But first, I wanted to give the Update Manager a chance. I decided to use the "New Updates" feature to see if any new updates were available.
I ran the option Help/Software Updates/New Updates menu option, and was surprised to see that there were indeed updates available--for Version 5.0.1! Evidently, I don't understand how this works, so I decided to stop playing around and get more information. (I'll run this past my IBM contacts and see what they say.) But for the time being, I decided to just move on.
Those Darned PTFs
Remember, one of the panels disappeared before I could finish using it, and one of the options on that panel was "Check for required PTFs." I couldn't see anywhere obvious that told me how to check for PTFs so I tried the Help menu. The Help system is shipped without an index, so the first time you try to search for something, you must build the index. This took nearly 10 minutes on my laptop. My guess is this is largely a function of the relatively slow disk drives inherent with laptops. However, it's a one-time cost, and once the index is in place, the search is very fast.
I did the search, and it turned out I was indeed missing a few PTFs. So I used the wonderful IBM iPTF system. I say this without sarcasm--I love iPTF. I use it regularly, and I've never had a problem with it. Until this time. Yes, you guessed it, iPTF was unable to help me. I've downloaded entire group PTFs using this, but the WDSc PTFs are too much for it to handle. After a couple of minutes of waiting, I got the following error:
Your order is incomplete. An error has occurred, the error message is:
Remote support application failed. PMR : 43772 The return code is 2D210000, module is ROC3MGR , macro is PMOPENCALL.
Not Available Electronically
Not Available Electronically
Evidently, the WDSc PTFs are unavailable. I have no idea what "Not Supported" means. According to the mailing lists, I'm not the only one with this problem. So now I'm a bit unsure as to the next step in the process. Once again, I'll fire the information off to my IBM contacts and see what they come up with.
Author's Note: The WDSc team acknowledged some issues with the Update Manager, and they are planning to address those in the very near term.
Can We Salvage the Day?
OK, there is no joy in Mudville regarding PTFs. But there weren't a ton of them, so I hoped that no horribly evil things would happen. In fact, the Preventive Service Planning database shows that two of them don't even exist--there are no cover letters for either SI08016 or SI08021. So go figure. It was after 9:00, but I chose to take my chances and see if I could do something with the product.
The Tutorial--Installation and Configuration
Many people have asked about a tutorial for some or all of the WDSci functions. The good news is that IBM has one. The bad news is that it's not clear what the status of this tutorial is. It was recently upgraded for Version 5, but the problem is that at least one object may have been missed. The question is being hashed out in one of the mailing lists as I write this.
However, the object in question is only an issue on one of the four tutorials, and the last one at that. Figuring the first three should be fine, I continued on. You can get the tutorial from its location on IBM's FTP site.
Once you've downloaded all the pieces, the scenario.pdf file will walk you through the steps required to install the demo (in good IBM tradition, there are instructions in 11 languages). Because the instructions are very good, I won't go into a blow-by-blow account as I did with the installation process.
After about an hour of installation, I was ready to test. There were only a couple of bumpy spots, mostly because it's still difficult to deploy an application from one machine to another. Anything that was related to the iSeries (such as host name or user ID and password) had to be manually reconfigured for each project. Then these values (including password) were stored in the clear in the web.xml file, which would never fly in the real world. I'm still getting used to some of the places where the J2EE world and the iSeries world don't quite mesh. I don't have an answer right now, but I know I don't like it.
Some Worked, Some Didn't
By 11:00, I was finally achieving some results. The first tutorial program came up in the test environment without a hitch, and I was happy to see a storefront type of program. A nice list of images came up, showing the available options.
The administrative application was less successful because of a missing step in the tutorial. On page 15, steps 5 and 6 tell you to change the value of the configuration parameter WFDefaultHost to your host name. After this, two more steps need to be inserted to change the value of the parameter Host1 to the same name. After that, the View Store Inventory application worked fine. (View Outstanding Orders had a different problem that I haven't had time to resolve yet.)
This is a little more complex, because you have to actually have a WebSphere Express server configured and running on your iSeries. Given the fact that most of the respondents to my poll on the last column indicated that deployment is a huge issue, I think that perhaps an entire column devoted to creating a simple server and deploying the tutorial application is a good idea. If you agree, please drop me an email and/or respond in the forum to this article.
Installing both EAR files on WebSphere Express took an hour or so. There are several steps, including exporting the EAR files to the IFS and installing the applications into the WebSphere Express server. Also, I created a separate WebSphere Express server to test the WDSci deployment, so that required some additional time. Finally, you have to start the server. Each step is relatively short, between five and 15 minutes, but combine five or six steps, and they start to add up. I think this needs to be addressed. Since there is no way to deploy a net change in the current J2EE model, you must redeploy the entire application. If deploying an application takes 20 minutes or more, you are going to have a very long test cycle.
Once I finished installation, I was able to run the applications with no problem. There is an initial delay the first time you run an application, but that's typical of the Web application server environment. Response time for the first program after initial load was very good. Then, I had to redeploy the WebFacing application because of the host name problem. The five-step process--export EAR, stop server, uninstall application, reinstall application, start server--took over 20 minutes. I probably could have copied just the XML file or even gone in manually and fixed it myself, but I would have had to know where it was, and I would still have had to shut down and restart the server. This process needs improvement, especially since the application is unavailable during this entire period.
So Where Are We?
Right now, the basic creation/deployment pieces are in place, but it still takes some work to get all the pieces to a state in which you can use them. When I presented my findings to the WDSc team, the response to most issues I raised was "We are aware of your concern." I'm not sure what exactly that means, but I hope it means they will be addressed in future releases. In the meantime, this article should help make it relatively easy to install and configure WDSci. Also, it points you to the IBM tutorial that walks you through many of the basic functions of Web application deployment in the new J2EE world. However, where the iSeries specifically comes into play, a number of issues need to be addressed. Security and QSYS object deployment are still not handled very well, and I'll review those issues in later columns.
The tutorial applications run. They are definitely tutorial applications, but even on a smaller box like mine, they take a relatively long time to deploy. This is the same box where I can deploy a green-screen application in minutes. In fact, throughout the process, installing and uninstalling takes an inordinately long time. I hope IBM hasn't decided that this is acceptable because it's only a "one-time" cost. That's simply not the case. Web applications need to be deployed repeatedly in a real environment, and even the tools need to be uninstalled and reinstalled on occasion. An installation time of an hour for any tool seems excessive.
Aside from the deployment issues, though, the basic functions worked pretty well. I'm happy with the result, and I'm looking forward to more stringent testing of the tutorial and the entire WDSci/WAS5X product suite. And even with the issues I found, I can honestly say I was able to install WDSci and the tutorial and get an example project running all in one day!