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Customizing the behavior of a complex framework or server has traditionally been done by editing configuration files. This practice developed during a period when the source code was only available to a privileged few, and the software was written to read, parse, and interpret these configuration files. However, when the source code is available to be modified by all (as in Open Source software), it is more practical, less verbose, and easier to modify the code to “do the right thing” than to edit arcane configuration files. This is similar to the approach taken by Emacs, where the “configuration file” is an Emacs Lisp file.
This presentation steps through an implementation of a Jetty servlet engine, contrasting the use of configuration files with an embedded code approach—for development, deployment and maintenance.
Robert (a/k/a r0ml) Lefkowitz is the CTO at Sharewave. He has previously held senior technology positions at AT&T Wireless and Morgan Stanley—and is a frequent speaker on the intersection between software and literacy. He is a Distinguished Engineer of the ACM.