A feature I recently discovered was the ability to precompile all the JSPs in Liferay. The motivation behind this discovery was the need for sanity checking after making a small change to nearly a hundred JSPs across many different portlets.
After using it on this particular problem, I wanted to know if it was possible to apply pre-compilation to a current ongoing project.
In this project, the development cycle involves testing changes on a development environment, generating a clean build from source and deploying to an existing Tomcat instance, promoting those changes to an alpha environment, validating the changes again in the alpha environment, promoting those changes again to a beta environment, and validating the changes one more time in the beta environment. This process needs be completed in a two-hour window, and so I wanted to use the pre-compilation process to reduce the time spent waiting for page loads.
So, the first question is, how do you setup Liferay for pre-compiling JSPs?
The built-in approach is to set your jsp.precompile property to on in your build.properties. In this scenario, Liferay's JSPCompiler will precompile each file individually, avoiding potential out of memory exceptions resulting from compiling large numbers of JSPs. It also has the nice property of aborting as soon as the first compilation error is encountered, making it very friendly for sanity checks. However, in a clean environment, it takes ten minutes to run to completion, making this practical only for unattended builds and sanity checks.
Therefore, a faster option was necessary. After digging into the documentation for Jasper, I discovered that faster options are available if you modify the build scripts being used in your development environment. The sequence of changes that were made in my local development environment are discussed below.
One option becomes available if you set your ANT_OPTS environment variable to give Ant a lot of memory. Once you do this, you can modify the appropriate build file (build.xml in portal-web or build-parent.xml in ext-web) to take advantage of the extra memory by calling the javac ant task directly in the compile-common-jsp task. In a clean environment, this shortens the pre-compilation time to three minutes, making this solution attractive for general deployment.
In the example build.liferay.properties:
But I was pretty sure I could do better, since over a minute was being spent decompressing JARs. By modifying the build target specific to an application server (for example, compile-tomcat), you remove the need to decompress JARs prior to precompilation, as you know exactly where the JARs are found and can setup a simple classpath accordingly. In the particular example where your application server is Tomcat, this step reduces the JSP pre-compilation time in a clean environment to one minute, making this solution attractive for Liferay core and extensions development.
In the example build.liferay.properties:
jsp.precompile=on jsp.precompile.fast=on jsp.precompile.faster=on
In the process of creating an application-specific build target for the Liferay WAR, it's possible to take this one step further and create a full build script which compiles every plugin WAR. However, since the plugin build scripts involve hot deployment rather than direct deployment to the application server, this is a bit tricky, as the work and webapps folders may go out of synch in terms of timestamps, thus negating the performance benefit of pre-compiling your JSPs if this lack of synchronization results in a recompilation.
Therefore, in the example build script (which makes use of the Ant-Contrib library to iterate through all the plugins folders, and is available for download here), it is assumed that Liferay and the various Liferay/JSR-168 plugins have already been deployed to Tomcat's webapps folder, and the build script and related files are inside of Tomcat's webapps folder. Running ant clean will wipe the work directory, and ant all will compile the ROOT context, followed by all the different plugins.
So, I now have a script which runs in less than two minutes which generates all the appropriate Java code and class files for the JSPs in Liferay along with every plugin in the development environment, speeding up the validation process.
Since these modifications depend on Liferay being deployed to the ROOT context, it can't really be committed to core without some modifications. Still, hopefully this knowledge is also useful to someone else.