Business travels and extra duties lately have brought some unexpected surprises. I find such “out of the box” adventures refreshing: pulling the rug out from under typical routines forces me to challenge assumptions and improvise. Here are some examples from the past two days.
The Right Sequence
During group architecture sessions, I needed to quickly create, modify and display sequence diagrams to demonstrate interactions among several new web services. Lacking my usual tools (and convinced there had to be a better mousetrap), I searched around and found websequencediagrams.com. This STTCPW site was exactly what I needed. Using it was faster than tools such as Visio Pro, and even faster than drawing and editing on whiteboards.
Today I got word that some Quartz jobs weren’t running as expected during pre-production testing, where typical weekday processes were run as a logical business day on Saturday. The cron-expressions were correct, so I needed to see more. A look at the full jobs.xml revealed the culprit: this environment had been configured to use WeeklyCalendar rather than the usual AnnualCalendar. A quick temporary switch had Quartz working weekends with the rest of us.
Fog of WAR
Despite version labels and other indicators, a web app was behaving as if it was down-level in a key area. Since the WAR file hadn’t been obfuscated, I grabbed a copy of the JD-GUI decompiler for a closer look. Sure enough, the class in question was at an older level. When sources aren’t available or are in question, the JD Project tools are indispensable for moving past assumptions and getting to facts.
Decimal, with an E
New calls to my web services from VoiceObjects were sending certain decimal data in E notation. The underlying call flow objects were TTA – Literals/Digits with a digits?minlength=1;maxlength=14 grammar, so it should have been decimal from end to end. But there turned out to be an unexpected feature of the platform to convert to float whenever any arithmetic is done, with no access to DecimalFormat or other mechanisms to convert back. Since there was fortunately no loss of precision and since a problem correctly stated often solves itself, I knew exactly what to do: modify the web service to accept the format. Voxeo provides a great VoiceXML platform, but it has plenty of surprising nuances like this.