Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Two Success Stories from Factory4Solutions

I work as architect at company Factory4Solutions (www.f4s.sk). Our
primary customers are banks, insurance companies, telecommunication
sector. We was using MDA approach long before. We started around 1997
with our own home made solution based on RationalRose, XML and custom
generator. Than we switched to AndroMDA. Tool was nice but stalled in
development around 2007. Then I start investigate another MDA tools.
We were looking for tool based on open technologies, universal and able
to generate JEE code. After playing little bit with proof of concept
projects we got first real project in which we could apply it.

Insurance company
Decision was not easy. We have to migrate existing portal with huge
amount of existing data to new portal. Persistent layer was hand
written in Oracle TopLink and front-end was in JSPs. I expected many
problems because hand written persistent layer is usually full of
nonstandard approaches which are hard to achieve in generic MDA tool.

However for me as an architect it was important to achieve
standardization because we had complicated deployment mode. Because of
security, portal was split to two. First was 3 tier extranet deployed
on WebLogic cluster and internal part which had similar functionality
but was running only on single server. Both portals were using same
database. For easier development I decided go with only one code base.
At build time we split the application and created more WAR files (Full
intranet, Extranet service tier, Extranet web tier).

I was really afraid about MDA approach. I started with SQL DDL and
created first version of model design file for Sculptor. Then I started
to tweak model file to fit existing database. After 2 days I was ready
with our model and first version of important services.

Thanks to strict Domain Driven Design which Sculptor follow I moved
code to developers to finish services and develop web frontend. Thanks
to Spring Remoting it took just 1 day to develop build procedure for 3
different WAR files. Except some small problems when developer used
some utility methods from frontend on backend. The architecture is stable,
system is maintainable and extendable. Today we still use one code
base also for demo system, batch processing system and Web Service
layer. Flexibility of Sculptor is endless. When you reach the border
with what Sculptor allow, you are still free to override parts of
generated code thanks to Xpand language.

Project facts:
  • 6 developers + 0.5 architect + 1 project manager + 0.5 auality assurance + 0.5 analyst for 9 month
  • 108.000 lines of java code, 34.000 lines of JSP code
  • Processing big reports from customers take 5-6 minutes (10 MB XML)
  • 20.000 reports a day are send in peaks

Investment company
We had advantage that we should start from scratch. Now project
consist of 40 entities and 26 services. Very complex security and
entity processing by complicated business processes involving bank,
customers, internal users, stock exchange, e-mail processing and
advisor networks. It was developed fully with Sculptor for entity and
service tier.

This is our first project where we used Sculptor also for generating
web frontend. We used smartclient (Sculptor allow to generate different
frontends). We are satisfied with speed of development and nice GUI
which users appreciate.

We also used very unique concept of waving rule engine - Drools
in front of service tier. This way we validate objects, sending
announcement, sending business alerts and also for complex price
list processing which consist of 8 different payment tables applied
at complex conditions. Result is very robust system which allow at
one side dynamic change but on other side very stable.

We are now running User Acceptance Tests at client side.

Project facts:
  • 2 developers + 0.5 architect + 0.5 quality assurance during 6 month
  • 9.000 lines of hand written code, 3.600 lines of test code, 49.000 lines of generated code

Today we are using Sculptor for all our projects. We master it to nice
extend and we now participate in development of new versions. I'm very
happy with new 1.7 release. This brings some nice features.
Specifically it's Smartclient frontend, hints for custom generation of
code and condition criteria builder with nice Java DSL (type and name
checking and IDE autocompletion).

This story was written by Pavel Tavoda, Factory4Solutions

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