Alien Skies – Peeking Into Doors Next Extensibility


I started a recon mission into the alien territory of Doors Next extensions recently and almost lost my way.

Doors Next is one of the products I am responsible for. I have some experience with requirement management and I understand Doors Next usually good enough to find my way, but I am way more familiar with RTC, especially since I did a lot with its Java API and extensions. So I thought if this is similar to the situation with RTC, capabilities to extend Doors Next will be in high demand soon and I better get my hands dirty and into it. Since the language available to extend Doors Next is JavaScript, this looked also like a good opportunity to have some more exposure to JavaScript.

Update, a nice summary of RDNG API’s can be found here.

First Steps – Look into the documentation

So I browsed through the documentation a bit to learn what there is to learn! Other than me, please start with reading the most recent version of the documentation. This will save you detours like looking at WAS Liberty Profile and publishing data. I followed the guidance and played around with the simple examples and the more complex ones provided. I became adventurous and wanted to modify the Hello World open social gadget example and create one that should be published in the widget catalog along with the other examples. The example worked as open social gadget already and I thought, I could use it as widget as well.

That did not work so good. Why? If I used the same xml code the open social gadget showed and the Dashboard widget showed a blank content.

The Widget

This is how the basic widget looks like. All the rest such as CSS, JavaScript and the like can be added to it based on this structure.

DashboardWidget

The Open Social Gadget

This is how the open social gadget looks like. I tried to spot what the difference was for a long time. Until I finally noticed that the difference between a working gadget and a working widget is the tag that the open social gadget has and which is missing in the widget..

OpenSocialGadget

It took me quite some time to figure out what the problem was. Embarrassing, but on the other hand it shows again, that tool extensions, even the smallest, are complex business. Maybe there are better ways to debug these kinds of issues. Compared to RTC Java Extensions I felt like back in time, trying to debug C and Assembler with printf…..

See this site for some additional introduction into open social gadgets.

Deployment Structure

Similar to my description in Publishing XML and Other Data With the WAS Liberty Profile  the extensions where deployed in the apps folder like this:

WidgetDeployment

Compared to RTC Extensions, this is a relatively simple and accessible structure. As mentioned by Guido, in an enterprise context, it would make sense to have your own web server to publish the extensions. This would allow to have a more fine grained control about who can change what.

It would be possible to use a RTC Build workspace to publish these extensions. I think there is a need to come up with some naming pattern for the extensions, in order to avoid chaos and confusion over time.

This has been challenging in the past and I assume it will stay challenging. The structure above has a css folder, as well as a JavaScript folder just in case. There is also a need for some more documentation and the like.

Summary

Doors next has means to extend its capabilities. Provided some fundamental knowledge, this should allow for a lot of the automation needed in enterprise environment. My first steps into this alien territory where a bit shaky, but all in all, I think I now have the basic understanding where and how to get started with more complex extensions.

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About rsjazz

Hi, my name is Ralph. I work for IBM and help colleagues and customers with adopting the Jazz technologies.
This entry was posted in Doors Next Generation, extending, Jazz and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Alien Skies – Peeking Into Doors Next Extensibility

  1. Andrew Ferris says:

    Great blog Ralph

  2. Pingback: Alien Skies II – JavaScript Yet Another Computer Language? | rsjazz

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