Where are my free JavaBeans?!

I have a webserver. It's a small box sharing a friend's static DSL line with a few other boxes. It does the job pretty well, hosting the websites for my family members. When the blogging revolution hit I wrote some journaling software for myself. It was written in Perl originally, later switching to a servlet with XSLTs. This was great for me but not so great for my sister when she wanted a weblog. She can write HTML and copy links. That's about it. No javascript and certainly no knowledge of XSL templating. My solution was to switch to JSPs. I told her as long as you don't edit these magic tags everything will be fine. All is good until she says she wants a counter.

Back in the day there used to be these little CGI scripts that you could dump into your cgi-bin directory and point your users at. They eventually got more sophisticated, adding security, different fonts, and other cool features, but for the most part they just did counters. It was great because the program was small, debugged, did one thing well and was free. (Some of them even became standards, force their superior replacments to have backwards compatible APIs)

So, I foolishly figured, there must be the equivalent for Java, right? I mean, there are a million JSP sites out there. Surely someone has written the definitive counter as a javabean. Just give it a few global config parameters like a directory to store the counters and we are all set. Right? I mean, how hard is it?

Sadly this is not the case. I can't find a counter javabean. A quick search on google for jsp web counter turns up plenty of free/pay sites that will host a counter for you or tutorials on how to create a web counter. Maybe people figure it's just so easy that you can always do oneoffs, never making a definitive version. Counters are deceptively easy, but all software has bugs in it. If there is a reusable version written by someone else I'd rather have that one. (Has the Linux community spoiled me?)

Next up I just search for JSP sites. I found quite a few with articles. I found others with code repositories but they all seemed to be lacking.They each had a small number of components, none of which seem to be developed well enough to be very reusable. Perhaps if all of these small sites were aggregated together it would add up to something.

So I have two questions. One, why do so many open source people focus on programs instead of reusable components (not frameworks, components), especially given that the audience is primarily programmers. Second, why isn't there a good clearing house for these reusable components. Something like download.com for small components instead of full programs. The closest I've found is jakarta.apache.org, but it's not comprehensive enough.

I want to be able to go to a particular site and type in web counter and get four modules that do it. One with SQL support and one that just uses file locking. One with text support and one with tons of images.

When I decide to make my own new component, because nothing out there does what I want, I want to just go to this site to post it and know that it will get a large audience, because that's where everyone else goes?

So why isn't this site in existence? A Freshmeat for smaller bits. The download.com of components. So many componets are written, often to be reusable and then thrown away. Can we save them?

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Posted August 11th, 2003

Tagged: java java.net