How MTV Uses the Spring Framework

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2008-12-11 Print this article Print


Justin Edelson, vice president of Applications & Platform for MTV Networks Global Digital, also spoke at SpringOne Americas and said MTV Networks is migrating from the ATG Dynamo Web application platform to Spring. Edelson said MTV Networks' sites are a mix of Java, PHP, Ruby, C++ and .NET software, and the use of ATG Dynamo worked well for the company. However, "ATG Dynamo was a fantastic piece of technology, but it's dying a painful death," he said.

Edelson said most of the major sites, including MTV's Viacom-based sister sites such as VH1, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, were built using ATG Dynamo. and the developers invested heavily in IoC and dependency injection. There also is a range of skill sets in the developer ranks, he said. Long-time employees know the ATG tool set, while newer employees know Spring and Hibernate. But Spring has won over because there is a growing talent pool of Spring developers, broad adoption of the Spring Framework, a relatively easy learning curve and externalized configuration, Edelson said.

The MTV Networks migration strategy was to make applications container-independent and to stop launching new Dynamo sites. And, like LinkedIn, one of MTV's core tactics included enhancing or extending Spring, as well modularizing the organization's code base, Edelson said.

To enhance Spring, MTV Networks added support for nested Bean factories, global Beans, combinational configuration, a config path and JMX (Java Management Extension)-based Bean definition browsing. This was all wrapped in a package the developers called BoxSpring.

To modularize the code base, MTV Networks used Maven as its build tool, implemented a lever for adding unit tests and packaged default configurations with code. In addition, the team built various supporting bits such as a Grails-based module browser, Maven plug-ins for copying code around and documentation standards. The team also used the Hudson extensible continuous integration engine, Edelson said.

The migration project continues with most of the infrastructure work completed in the first half of 2008 and the first BoxSpring applications launched in the second half of 2008, Edelson said. The first rewritten site will launch in the first quarter of 2009, he said. However, Edelson would not give a firm time frame for completion of the overall migration.

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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