Perform trigger-based JSP cache invalidation using the Madisons starter store

Work with database triggers for targeted JSP cache invalidation

JSP caching is used extensively in IBM® WebSphere® Commerce to enhance the performance of the store. This article provides examples—using the Madisons starter store—to show you how to create and use triggers to perform JSP cache invalidations. After you create the triggers, learn how to run a scheduled job to process database tables and assign cache invalidations.

Siddharth C. Ravikanthrao (siddharth.cr@in.ibm.com), Senior Staff Software Engineer, IBM

Photo of Siddharth RavikanthraoSiddharth C. Ravikanthrao is a Staff Software Engineer with IBM India Software Labs, Bangalore. He has 5 years of experience with WebSphere Commerce development. He was involved both in the design and implementation of Sales Center, Gift Center, Service provider, SEO and Page Composer solutions.



Lekha G. Rao (lekha.rao@in.ibm.com), Software Engineer, IBM

Author photo of Lekha RaoLekha G. Rao is a Software Developer who has been working in WebSphere Commerce Test team for the last three and a half years. She has worked as a Tester for various solutions and has been a Test Lead for the last year and a half. She is an active member of On Demand Community and is currently a volunteer for Smart Rural Aggregation Platform, which uses WebSphere Commerce in the Smarter Village scenario.



13 December 2012

Introduction

Caching content in your store pages can improve response time and reduce system load. Most caching techniques cache static content, such as graphic and text files. However, many websites serve dynamic content, which contains personalized information or data that changes more frequently. A website can draw millions of visitors per hour, and each visitor can view many pages during a visit. If each page is dynamically generated and must access the database for information, the load on the application and database server can be significant. If you implement a caching strategy that includes dynamic caching, you can reduce this load. WebSphere Commerce provides a sample caching implementation for each of its starter stores. The sample implementation demonstrates how to use dynamic caching for JSP pages.

WebSphere Commerce uses the DynaCache service provided by WebSphere Application Server to implement its dynamic caching strategy. For more information about DynaCache services, see the description of dynamic caching in the WebSphere Commerce information center (see Resources).

Defining caching policies in cachespec.xml

The cachespec.xml file is used to define the caching policies for a starter store. When the server starts, the DynaCache service reads cachespec.xml from the WEB-INF directory of the web application and loads the caching rules dynamically.

The caching policy of an application consists of defining the caching rules for the cacheable objects in the application, such as servlets, JSPs, and commands, and defining the invalidation rules to keep the data relevant.

The cache-entry element defines the caching rules for the cacheable objects. It defines the object that is cached and the rules to generate the cache ID. It also defines the dependency IDs that can invalidate the cached object. A sample cache entry is defined in Listing 1:

Listing 1. Sample CacheSpec entry
<cache-entry>
	<class>servlet</class>
	<name>com.ibm.commerce.struts.ECActionServlet.class
	</name>
	<cache-id>
		<component id="" type="pathinfo">
			<required>true</required>
			<value>/TopCategoriesDisplay</value>
		</component>
		<component id="storeId" type="parameter">
			<required>true</required>
		</component>
		<component id="catalogId" type="parameter">
			<required>true</required>
		</component>
		<component id="categoryId" type="parameter">
			<required>false</required>
		</component>
		<component id="DC_lang" type="attribute">
			<required>true</required>
		</component>
		<component id="DC_curr" type="attribute">
			<required>true</required>
		</component>
		<component id="DC_aorg" type="attribute">
			<required>true</required>
		</component>
		<component id="DC_cont" type="attribute">
			<required>true</required>
		</component>
		<component id="DC_mg" type="attribute">
			<required>true</required>
		</component>
	</cache-id>
	<priority>1</priority>
	<timeout>3600</timeout>
	<inactivity>600</inactivity>
	<dependency-id>
		storeId
		<component id="" ignore-value="true" type="pathinfo">
			<required>true</required>
			<value>/TopCategoriesDisplay</value>
		</component>
		<component id="storeId" type="parameter">
			<required>true</required>
		</component>
	</dependency-id>
</cache-entry>

The class element indicates that the object being cached is a servlet. For commands, the value used is command. Other supported values are: webservice, JAXRPCClient, static, and portlet.

The name element indicates the name of the servlet or JSP command that is being cached.

Objects placed in the DynaCache are assigned unique cache IDs that help distinguish two similar cached objects. The cache ID is generated using the attributes of the cached object. The attributes to use and the rules governing their usage are defined through the cache-id element of the cache entry. For servlets, these attributes are either request attributes or parameters passed to the servlet. For commands, these attributes are methods defined on the command that help to distinguish one command instantiation from another.

The required parameter indicates whether the parameter is needed for the construction of a valid cache ID. If the required parameter is set to false, the component can return a null value, in which case either the default value is used (if provided) or the component is not used during the cache ID generation.

The dependency-id element defines rules to generate the dependency IDs used to invalidate the cached object. These IDs are generated using the attributes of the cached object (request properties and attributes for servlets; methods and properties for commands) and associated to the cached object.

The <timeout>, <inactivity>, and <priority> elements configure expiry and eviction policies. When the available cache memory is full, a least recently used (LRU) caching algorithm removes cached objects with lower priority before those with higher priority.

Cached data invalidation rules are set up based on the commands that can update the underlying data being served from the cache. The cachespec.xml file supports an invalidation element defined in Listing 2:

Listing 2. Sample invalidation element
<cache-entry>
	<class>command</class>
	<sharing-policy>not-shared</sharing-policy>
	<name>
		com.ibm.commerce.catalogmanagement.commands.AddCatalogGroupDescCmdImpl
	</name>
	<name>
		com.ibm.commerce.catalogmanagement.commands.UpdateCatalogGroupDescCmdImpl
	</name>
	<invalidation>
		storeId
		<component id="getStoreId" type="method">
			<required>true</required>
		</component>
	</invalidation>
</cache-entry>

Here the com.ibm.commerce.catalogmanagement.commands.AddCatalogGroupDescCmdImpl command and com.ibm.commerce.catalogmanagement.commands.UpdateCatalogGroupDescCmdImpl command generate the invalidation ID storeId:<storeId>, where <storeId> is obtained from the getStoreId method of the commands.

Invalidating the cache

Cached content becomes invalid based on events such as time outs and other actions that make changes to the underlying data. Each cache entry specifies a time-to-live (TTL) value in the <inactivity> element. The TTL value is the amount of time, in seconds, to keep the cache entry in the cache after the last cache hit. For the other events that cause cache invalidation, DynaCache adopts a publish/subscribe model. Each cached object subscribes to a set of dependency IDs that are constructed while caching the object. The cached object is removed from the cache when at least one of the dependency IDs is published.

The DynaCache service provides API and configuration support in the cachespec.xml to publish the dependency IDs in order to invalidate the content. For more information about approaches for invalidating the cache, see the description of cache invalidation concepts in the WebSphere Commerce information center (see Resources).


Caching JSP fragments

WebSphere Commerce starter store JSPs are generally modularized into reusable JSP fragments. Each of these fragments can have its own caching policies. You can cache each fragment separately or together with the parent store page. When the page is served from the cache, the application container combines the fragments that are cached separately. This behavior allows for better reusability of code and more flexibility in terms of caching. The fragments that are cached in the store page are said to be consumed, while the fragments that are cached separately are said to be included by the parent store page.

WebSphere Commerce commands that update the database define the invalidation for cached store pages. This command-based invalidation approach has some limitations. The invalidation behavior is restricted to the command implementation, which often focuses on the primary entity, not the entity references. For example, when you create a new product, or primary entity, you can't invalidate the relevant category page, or entity referenced. Command-based invalidation requires association information, but this information is not available in the command unless you include it in the code. For sophisticated invalidation, you need to customize the commands, which makes it difficult to issue targeted invalidation of the cache.

The database has the data model that contains all the information about entities and their relationships. Any change made by the command typically affects one or more database tables. If you use database triggers, you track data changes in certain tables, and generate dependency IDs that take into account the entity relationships. These dependency IDs, which are populated into the CACHEIVL table, perform targeted invalidations. This technique lets you perform complex and precise invalidation without having to change any command implementations. It also has the flexibility needed to adapt to the store implementation.

In this article, you learn to use triggers on different tables for targeted invalidations in the Madisons starter store. The article presents scenarios for you to consider and it defines invalidation triggers for each of these scenarios.


Madisons starter store

The general structure of the Madisons store page consists of the following sections. Each section has different caching policies, based on the content that it displays:

  • Header – consists of the store logo, the mini-shopping cart, and the department menu. The header is common across all store pages and is cached separately. Because the header displays the department menu, the header is invalidated only when the departments undergo some change.
  • Footer – is never invalidated since it contains links to static information. The footer is common across all store pages and is cached separately.
  • Bread crumb display – displays the navigational path for the current category or catalog entry. Since this information is specific to a page, the bread crumb section is consumed by the store page.
  • Left navigation section – displays category and subcategory information. Since this information is specific to a page, the left navigation section is consumed by the store page.
  • Right advertisement section – is a container that displays advertisements and recommendations through e-Marketing spots.
  • Body – is made up of multiple sections of e-Marketing spots. These e-Marketing spot fragments are never consumed by the store page. Due to the dynamism of their content, these e-Marketing spot fragments are generally not cached and are always served up from the database.

The store pages are invalidated based on the data changes that affect the composed JSP fragments.


Home page

Figure 1 shows the home page for a store. In the caching policy for the home page:

  • The header is included.
  • The bread crumb display is consumed.
  • The left navigation section is consumed.
  • In the body:
    • Clearance Sale widget is consumed, but the products shown in the Clearance Sale widget are included.
    • All other parts of the body are included.
  • The right navigation section is included, but the advertisements within it are consumed.
  • The footer is included.
Figure 1. Home page
Home page with the caching strategy highlighted

In the following sections, we take a closer look at the store pages, highlighting the cacheable sections of the page and the different aspects to consider for invalidations of each section.

Scenarios for cache invalidation

The consumed portions of the department page that require cache invalidation when cache entries become out-of-date are:

  • Left navigation section – displays the top categories and their immediate subcategories. The left navigation section is the only fragment consumed by the home page that requires invalidation when cache entries become out-of-date

Scenarios that might lead your cache entries to become out-of-date are:

  • The description for any of the categories displayed is updated.
  • Any new top categories are added to the catalog, or any existing categories are deleted from the catalog.
  • Any new subcategories are added to a top category in the catalog, or any existing subcategories are deleted from a top category in the catalog.
  • The category hierarchy within the subcategories of a top category is changed in the catalog.

Department page and subcategory page

Figure 2 shows a department page. In caching policy for the department page:

  • The header is included.
  • The bread crumb display is consumed.
  • The left navigation section is consumed.
  • In the body:
    • Furniture widget that includes the graphic that says "Comfort: Relax in Luxury" at the top is consumed.
    • All other parts of the body are included.
  • The right navigation section is consumed. Within the right navigation section:
    • The Compare widget is consumed.
    • The E-mail Newsletter widget is included.
    • The Recommendations widget is consumed.
  • The footer is included.
Figure 2. Department page
Department page with the caching strategy highlighted

Figure 3 shows a subcategory page. In caching policy for the subcategory page:

  • The header is included.
  • The bread crumb display is consumed.
  • The left navigation section is consumed.
  • In the body:
    • The Lounge Chairs widget with the graphic that says "Comfortable prices" is consumed.
    • The widget that displays products is included.
  • The right navigation section is consumed. Within the right navigation section:
    • The Compare widget is consumed.
    • The E-mail Newsletter widget is included.
    • The Recommendations widget is consumed.
  • The footer is included.
Figure 3. Subcategory page
Sub-Category page with the caching strategy highlighted

Scenarios for cache invalidation

When cache entries become out-of-date, the consumed portions of the department page that require cache invalidation are:

  • Left navigation section – displays the subcategories under the department. If there are no subcategories, displays siblings of the top category. Any change to the current category requires invalidation of the top category page, the sibling category pages, and the subcategory page.
  • Bread crumb display – displays the name of the department. Any change to the description of the department requires invalidation of the subcategory page.
  • Body section – displays the department information. Any change to the category description requires invalidation of the category page.

Scenarios that might lead your cache entries to become out-of-date are:

  • The description of the top category or any of its subcategories is updated.
  • Subcategories are added to the top category for the catalog used by the store, or any subcategories are deleted from the top category for the catalog used by the store.
  • The category hierarchy of subcategories within a top category in the catalog is changed.

Note: Featured products on the department page are not cached because content in e–Marketing spots is dynamic. Invalidation scenarios for included fragments in the subcategory page (Product listing in category page) have been specified in the next section.


Product page

Figure 4 shows a product page. In caching policy for the product page:

  • The header is included.
  • The bread crumb display is consumed.
  • The left navigation section is consumed.
  • In the body:
    • The widget with the White Fabric Roll Arm Chaise is consumed.
    • The Check Store Availability widget is included
    • The Description widget is consumed.
  • The right navigation section is consumed. Within the right navigation section:
    • The Compare widget is consumed.
    • The E-mail Newsletter widget is included.
    • The Recommendations widget is consumed.
  • The footer is included.
Figure 4. Product page
Product page with the caching strategy highlighted

Scenarios for cache invalidation

The consumed portions of the product page that require cache invalidation when cache entries become out-of-date are:

  • Left navigation section – displays the subcategories under the department of the product. If there are no subcategories, displays siblings of the top category of the department. Displaying these items creates a relationship between the data on each product page within the department and the subcategories of the department. Any change to a department requires invalidation of the product pages under the top category, sibling categories, and subcategories.
  • Bread crumb display – displays the category hierarchy of the product. Any change to the name of a category requires invalidation of the product page.
  • Body section – displays the product information. Any change to the description of the product requires invalidation of the page.

Scenarios that might lead your cache entries to become out-of-date are:

  • The description of the top category or any of its subcategories is updated.
  • Any new subcategories are added to a top category in the catalog, or any existing subcategories are deleted from a top category in the catalog.
  • The category hierarchy of subcategories within a top category in the catalog changes.
  • A product is moved to another category within the catalog used by the store.
  • A product is updated. For example, if its description is changed, or its buyable status changes.

Cacheable fragments

Certain JSP fragments are cached separately from the store page and are included when the store page is served. The fragments that are affected the most are:

  • Header – contains the department menu. The cache entries for the header can become out-of-date when changes are made to the category hierarchy of the store. Such changes include adding a new department or a subcategory, changing the description of the existing categories, or changing the hierarchy of the categories.

  • Products listing in subcategory page – displays the products under the category. It can either be cached separately or consumed in the category pages. The cache entries for this fragment become out-of-date when the description of products under the category are updated, or when products are added to or removed from the category.

  • e-Marketing spots – not recommended for caching due to the dynamism of their content.


Creating triggers for cache invalidation

To use cache invalidation, you must:

  1. Add the necessary dependency ID generation rules to the cache entry.
  2. Identify the tables in which to define the triggers for generating the dependency IDs.

In this section, you'll learn how to write triggers that generate the necessary dependency IDs for each of the scenarios identified in the previous sections.

Invalidating a header when a category is associated with or added to a store

The header section of a store—or stores, in the case of extended sites—requires invalidation whenever a new top category or an immediate subcategory is created. If you examine the sample cachespec.xml provided for the Madisons store, you see that the header fragment uses the StoreHeader:storeId dependencyID. The sample cache configuration file (cachespec.sample.xml) is located in the WAS_installdir/properties directory.

The STORECGRP table shows the relationships between categories and stores, so you can use the STORECGRP table to define the trigger that publishes the ID Store-Header:storeId for all stores that contain the new category.

Listing 3. Trigger on STORECGRP table
CREATE TRIGGER INSERT_STORECGRP AFTER INSERT  ON STORECGRP  
REFERENCING  NEW AS trow  FOR EACH ROW  MODE DB2SQL 
BEGIN ATOMIC
INSERT INTO cacheivl (dataid) VALUES('StoreHeader:storeId'
|| ':'
|| RTRIM(CHAR(trow.STOREENT_ID)));
FOR relatedStores AS
SELECT STORE_ID FROM STOREREL 
WHERE RELATEDSTORE_ID = trow.STOREENT_ID AND STRELTYP_ID=-4
DO
IF (STORE_ID <> trow.STOREENT_ID)  THEN
INSERT INTO cacheivl (dataid) VALUES('StoreHeader:storeId'
|| ':'
|| RTRIM(CHAR(STORE_ID)));
END IF;
END FOR;
END

In Listing 3, the FOR loop generates the StoreHeader:storeId dependency ID for all stores that contain the new category.

Invalidating a header when a category is removed from a store

In this scenario, you use the DELETE_STORECGRP trigger to generate the StoreHeader:storeId dependency ID needed to invalidate the header. The DELETE_STORECGRP trigger is defined in the attached SQL file (see Downloads).

Invalidating a department page and home page when a top category is created or deleted

When a top category is created or deleted, consider invalidating the following:

  • The header uses the StoreHeader:storeId dependency ID.
  • The top category display page uses the Store-Header:storeId dependency ID as well.
  • The home page uses the StoreHeader:storeId dependency ID.

The trigger identified for header invalidation also generates the dependency ID required to invalidate the top-category display page. You can also use the table to generate the appropriate dependency ID. The CATTOGRP table stores associations between the catalog and the top category, to generate the appropriate dependency ID.

Invalidating a product page and category page when a category or subcategory is created

Based on the discussions in the previous sections, the cache entries that require invalidation when you create a category are:

  • The parent category page, if the category is a subcategory. The cache-entry for the parent category page uses the catalogId:categoryId dependency ID.
  • All the catalog entry pages of the parent category. The cache-entry for the catalog entry pages of the parent category uses the catalogId:productId dependency ID.
  • Sibling category pages. The cache-entry for the sibling category pages also use the catalogId:categoryId dependency ID.
  • Catalog entry pages of the sibling categories. The cache-entry for the catalog entry pages of the sibling category uses the catalogId:productId dependencyID.

When you create a subcategory, the CATGRPREL table is updated. This table stores associations between the subcategories and their parents, along with the catalog ID. The trigger retrieves parent, sibling, and subcategory ID information from this table for the newly created category.

To get the catentry information, the trigger uses the CATGPENREL table. This table stores catentry, category, and catalog ID associations. The trigger defined in Listing 4 generates the dependency IDs for the new subcategory in this order:

  1. Parent category page dependency ID
  2. Catentry page dependency ID for all catentries under the parent category
  3. Sibling category page dependency ID
  4. Catentry page dependency ID for all catentries under each of the sibling category
Listing 4. Trigger on CATGRPREL table
CREATE TRIGGER INSERT_CATGRPREL AFTER INSERT ON CATGRPREL 
REFERENCING NEW AS trow FOR EACH ROW  MODE DB2SQL 
BEGIN ATOMIC
INSERT INTO cacheivl (dataid) VALUES('catalogId:categoryId:'
  || RTRIM(CHAR(trow.CATALOG_ID))
  || ':'
  || RTRIM(CHAR(trow.CATGROUP_ID_PARENT))
 );
FOR sibling_catentries_of_parent AS
	SELECT catgpenrel.CATENTRY_ID FROM catgpenrel 
	WHERE catgpenrel.CATGROUP_ID=trow.CATGROUP_ID_PARENT 
	AND catgpenrel.CATALOG_ID=trow.CATALOG_ID
	DO
		INSERT INTO cacheivl (dataid) VALUES('catalogId:productId:'
		  || RTRIM(CHAR(trow.CATALOG_ID))
		  || ':'
		  || RTRIM(CHAR(CATENTRY_ID))
		  );
END FOR;
FOR sibling AS 
	SELECT catgrprel.CATGROUP_ID_CHILD FROM catgrprel 
	WHERE catgrprel.CATGROUP_ID_PARENT=trow.CATGROUP_ID_PARENT
DO 
	INSERT INTO cacheivl (dataid) VALUES('catalogId:categoryId:'
	  || RTRIM(CHAR(trow.CATALOG_ID))
	  || ':'
	  || RTRIM(CHAR(CATGROUP_ID_CHILD))
	  );
	FOR sibling_catentries AS
		SELECT catgpenrel.CATENTRY_ID FROM catgpenrel
		WHERE catgpenrel.CATGROUP_ID=CATGROUP_ID_CHILD
		AND catgpenrel.CATALOG_ID=trow.CATALOG_ID
	DO
		INSERT INTO cacheivl (dataid) VALUES('catalogId:productId:'
		  || RTRIM(CHAR(trow.CATALOG_ID))
		  || ':'
		  || RTRIM(CHAR(CATENTRY_ID))
		  );
	END FOR;
END FOR;
END

Invalidating a product page and category page when a subcategory is deleted

Deleting a subcategory requires the same dependency IDs to be generated as when you create a new subcategory. The trigger DELETE_CATGRPREL generates the necessary dependency IDs. This trigger is specified in the attached SQL file (see Downloads).

Invalidating a subcategory page when a catalog entry is created

When you create a catalog entry, the subcategory page that contains the product listing requires cache invalidation. To invalidate it, add a catalogId:categoryId dependency ID to CategoryOnlyResultsDisplay.jsp in the sample cachespec.xml file provided. Listing 5 defines this cache entry:

Listing 5. catalogId:categoryId cache entry
<dependency-id>catalogId:categoryId
     <component id="catalogId" type="parameter">
        <required>true</required>
     </component>
     <component id="categoryId" type="parameter">
        <required>false</required>
     </component>
</dependency-id>

You can use the CATGPENREL table to generate the required dependency ID. Listing 6 defines this trigger:

Listing 6. Trigger on CATGPENREL table
CREATE TRIGGER INSERT_CATGPENREL
AFTER INSERT ON CATGPENREL
REFERENCING NEW AS trow
FOR EACH ROW MODE DB2SQL
  INSERT INTO cacheivl (dataid) VALUES('catalogId:categoryId:'
  || RTRIM(CHAR(trow.CATALOG_ID))
  || ':'
  || RTRIM(CHAR(trow.CATGROUP_ID))
  )

Note: The Department page does not need invalidation because the e–Marketing Spot which displays Featured Products is not cached.

Invalidating a subcategory page when a catalog entry is deleted

The trigger for deleting a catalog entry must generate the catalogId:categoryId dependency ID. The DELETE_CATGPENREL trigger is defined for this purpose in the attached SQL file (see Downloads).

Invalidating the product display and subcategory page when a category description is updated

When the description for a category is updated, the updated value can be the name, short description, long description, and so on. If the name is updated, the following pages require invalidation:

  • The parent category pages that subscribe to the catalogId:categoryId dependency ID. If the updated category is an immediate subcategory to the top category, then the top category display page also must be invalidated by generating the Store-Header:storeId dependency ID.
  • The catalog entry pages of the parent category that subscribes to catalogId:productId dependency ID.
  • The sibling categories of the category being updated. They subscribe to the catalogId:categoryId dependency ID.
  • The catalog entry pages of the sibling categories. They subscribe to catalogId:productId dependency ID.
  • The header must be invalidated by generating the StoreHeader:storeId dependency ID.

The trigger that generates the invalidation is UPDATE_CATGRPDESC. It is defined in the attached SQL file (see Downloads).

Invalidating the product page and subcategory page when a catalog entry is updated

An update to a catalog entry can include changes to the name, the description, the buyable state, and other information. Invalidations need to be performed on the following pages to cover all the scenarios:

  1. The catalog entry page in the store—or associated stores, in the case of extended sites—must be invalidated by generating the productId:<productId> dependency ID.
  2. The product listing on the category page fragment must be invalidated by generating the catalogId:categoryId dependency ID.

Because you need to track two types of updates to Catalog Entry related tables, the triggers that generate the appropriate invalidations are defined using both UPDATE_CATENTDESC and UPDATE_CATENTRY. These triggers are defined in the attached SQL file (see Downloads).


Invalidating the cache when search-based navigation is enabled

With the use of search-based navigation on the Madisons store, catalog data is fetched from the search index built on the Solr server, rather than the database. The search index acts as an L2 cache for the underlying catalog data in the WebSphere Commerce database. When a catalog entry or category is added or updated, the search index must be re-indexed (with delta update) for the data to be displayed on the store page. This introduces a different complexity with respect to invalidation. The cache must be invalidated after the index is rebuilt. In Feature Pack 5, WebSphere Commerce provides a feature to configure the dependency IDs to be published after you update a catalog entry or category.


Conclusion

In this article, you learned to work with database triggers to perform better, more targeted JSP cache invalidation. You also learned that you can easily customize this type of invalidation for any store implementation. To ensure that your invalidation strategy is efficient and well-targeted, you need to use a combination of command-based invalidation and trigger-based invalidation techniques. Use command-based invalidation techniques where you can easily obtain the primary entity and all required entity references that need to be invalidated, and where the chance of too many unnecessary invalidations is minimal. In all other cases, you can use trigger-based invalidation to ensure a more efficient invalidation strategy for the store.


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ArticleTitle=Perform trigger-based JSP cache invalidation using the Madisons starter store
publish-date=12132012