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Jetty - the web server that powers PaperCut

The other day I sent a quick email to the Jetty HTTP Server development team thanking them for all their hard work. We struck up a bit of a conversation and they wanted to know more about how we’re using Jetty in PaperCut and asked us if we’d like to write up a short Case Study for their website. I’ve decided to post this on the blog as it will also give some of our users an interesting look at the “internals” of PaperCut.

Our use of Jetty is quite a bit different to most. Instead of treating Jetty like Apache or a stand-alone server, we’re using Jetty as an embedded component. It’s deployed with our print accounting application, PaperCut ( tour here for those interested). As a result, Jetty is running on tens-of-thousands of servers in over 60 countries and the vast majority of users are completely unaware that it’s there. The measure of a good embeddable component is not who’s using it, but who’s not aware that they’re using it! Jetty is fantastic in this regard - zero config and zero maintenance, working away flawlessly for years on end.

Jetty is hosting PaperCut’s web application interface. This is a web application based on Tapestry, Spring, Hibernate and Apache Derby. Jetty’s embeddability has allowed us to deploy this stack in a standard setup.exe type installer targeting all major platforms (Windows, Linux and Mac). Our users don’t need to know anything about web servers or their setup and configuration. All they need to do is run the installer! Jetty’s scalability has also been an advantage. In some cases PaperCut is installed on a small business server supporting 5 workstations, while on other sites it’s running in University environments on clustered servers supporting 100,000+ users. Jetty has prove equally adaptable at both ends of the scalability spectrum.

Choosing components for a project is always difficult - often too much choice! Obviously Jetty has been a great choice but was one we carefully considered back in 2005. Technical functionality was one criteria, but another important consideration was the strength of the team behind the project. We’ve seen too many Open Source projects start out with enthusiasm only to run out of puff and “age” early. What grabbed us about Jetty was the future looking team. In 2005 AJAX was very new and there was big questions about how to handle server-push events in a scalable fashion. We had an immediate need for this, not with AJAX, but with our web services API (client software receiving web-services push events from the server). The Jetty development team members such as Greg Wilkins , were openly discussing “long polling” and the issues around this. Jetty was one of the first servers to present working and more importantly “workable” solutions to the scalability problems.

We can’t recommend Jetty more highly. It’s a great web server, a great component, and is backed by a switched-on forward looking and innovative team - make sure you check out the open source Jetty and the team!


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