Category: Uncategorized

After Updating to macOS 11.0 Big Sur

The Context

In my current project, we’re using Apache Tomat and Eclipse as the IDE. The Java Platform is Amazon Corretto 11. I’m using macOS and the working setup before upgrading was this:

  • Tomcat is installed using Homebrew:
    brew install tomcat
  • Java was installed by downloading the package (see link above) and running the installer.
  • I have set
    export JAVA_HOME=/Library/…/amazon-corretto-11.jdk/Contents/Home
    in .zprofile so the right Java version is used.
  • I’d start Tomcat from the command line and our tests from inside Eclipse.

This worked nicely.

After The Upgrade

The upgrade went smoothly for most of the software I am using: Other IDEs, installations of Ruby, Elixir, databases, REST clients, git, etc. all continued to work nicely.

The tests however failed in an interesting way: While basic REST calls worked (e.g. a GET request to retrieve version info), the tests that were using the actual functionality were receiving a plain “Internal Server Error” from Tomcat and the application logs showed some getContext method that ended up receiving null instead of the expected object.

Running the same tests on the same machine using the way the tests are started in CI still worked well. The difference between running from within the IDE & the command line: The command line starts Tomcat and runs the tests against that (and then stops Tomcat), while the IDE uses the already running Tomcat. — Aha!

The Solution

Tomcat logs several environment variables it’s using when it starts, among them JRE_HOME.

And this environment variable pointed to another Java environment, that came from a different source, had a different Java version, and furthermore was (obviously) incompatible with the Java environment set up in JAVA_HOME.

Pointing JRE_HOME to the same Java environment solved the problem and tests are running just fine again. Phew!

The documentation has a section about this (docs can be so useful!):

(3.2) Set JRE_HOME or JAVA_HOME (required)

These variables are used to specify location of a Java Runtime
Environment or of a Java Development Kit that is used to start Tomcat.

The JRE_HOME variable is used to specify location of a JRE. The JAVA_HOME
variable is used to specify location of a JDK.

Using JAVA_HOME provides access to certain additional startup options that
are not allowed when JRE_HOME is used.

If both JRE_HOME and JAVA_HOME are specified, JRE_HOME is used.

The recommended place to specify these variables is a “setenv” script. See

…/tomcat/9.0.39/libexec/webapps/docs/RUNNING.txt in my Tomcat installation

Furthermore, there are comments explaining what to expect with respect to JAVA_HOME & JRE_HOME in

# JRE_HOME Must point at your Java Runtime installation.
# Defaults to JAVA_HOME if empty. If JRE_HOME and JAVA_HOME
# are both set, JRE_HOME is used.

…/9.0.39/libexec/bin/ lns 61 ff

It’s still not entirely clear what caused this behaviour.
If you have an idea or ran into a similar problem, I’d definitely like to known about it.

Agile Testing Days 2020 (and 2009)

These are some insights I had today, posted as Tweets:

And last, but certainly not least Miroslava Nikolova made me (re?) post a message on a piece of cardboard that circled around at the Agile Testing Days 2009.

I think it is still valid and covers the spirit of this very conference and the attitude of everyone taking part so well.

Here’s the plain text (and if you know who’s the original author, I would really like to know who they are):

We are a community of professionals. We are dedicated of our own continuing education and take responsibility for our careers. We support each other in learning and advancing our craft. We certify ourselves.

— Unknown author(s?) at the Agile Testing Days 2009

I thank everyone who made this day so great!

Autogenerate Path Visualisations

In the previous blog post I have described how to use GraphViz to describe a graph in a textual format and then generate an image from that.

This time, let’s do one more step and add some code so that the image gets generated automatically when the text file is updated.

For my project I use Guard, a Ruby gem that watches file system changes, and allows to define various reactions. Running unit tests whenever a file is saved is one example.

For my case, I let it generate a new image file, when a GraphViz file is saved. First of all, I installed the needed Ruby gems:

gem install guard guard-shell

With that in place, here’s the Guardfile I use to generate the images:

guard 'shell' do
  watch(/(.*\.gv)$/) { | m |
    dot_file = m[1]
    png_file = "#{File.basename(dot_file, '.*')}.png"
    command = "dot -Tpng -Gdpi=300 -o#{png_file} #{dot_file} && open #{png_file}"
    puts command
    puts `#{command}`

Note: In the code above I had to revert to enter (0xff06) instead of & (0x26) in order to prevent the syntax highlighting feature from turing a & into `&`… 🤷‍♂️

The part watch(/(.*.gv)$/) invokes the following code block when a file that matches the given regular expression changes. I am interested in files that match ‘*.gv’ in the directory that the Guardfile is stored in.

The line dot_file = m[1] extracts the file name from the parameter passed into the block, and uses it to create a _new_ file name for the image file that is going to be created.

Then the shell command is put together, logged, and finally called.

Component of the commandWhat it is/does
dot The command name that
translates the gv file into a PNG image
-TpngSet the output format to ‘png’
-Gdpi=300Set the resolution to 300 dpi
(gives a good resolution for printing)
-o#{png_file} Set the file name for the png file
#{dot_file}The name of the input file
&& open #{png_file}This appends another shell command to open the image file.
(I use this on my Mac to automatically (re-) open the file whenever it’s regenerated.)

In case you would like to experiment with this, I created as a starting point, including an example GraphViz file.


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