19 January 2008

Daily Build Articles

In 2007 I started writing articles about Daily Builds for Java applications, which I called the 'Code Cop' Series. Unfortunately I just managed to finish two articles so far, shown below. I have a lot of material for further articles about adding automated testing and enforcing architecture to our daily build, just have to squeeze in the time to do it ;-)

The Daily GrindPart 1 - Daily Build with Anthill OS
This article describes my experiences when introducing a daily build in 2004 when I used the Anthill tool. The first steps were to create JavaDoc pages daily and to compile the Java sources. It turned out that the initial set-up of these build routines did not cost much and were supported by the team. Obviously this is only the start of better quality code. Read more in the full article Täglicher Build mit Anthill OS published in JavaSPEKTRUM, 5/2007.

ReferencesOther build tools are Anthill Pro, Continuum, Cruise Control, Maven, Luntbuild (incomplete list).

Part 2 - Daily Code Analysis with PMD
This article introduces static code analysis with PMD. The existing daily build was extended easily. A daily report of the code quality metrics awakened the management and was used as a base to check for a small set of errors. The most serious of them were fixed and part of the coding conventions have been checked automatically since then. Read more in the full article T├Ągliche Code-Analyse mit PMD published in JavaSPEKTRUM, 1/2008.

ReferencesTurn on the magicOther code analysis tools are Checkstyle, Enerjy CQ2, Findbugs, JavaNCSS, JLint, Jtest, Optimal Advisor, Sotograph (incomplete list).

(Download source code of Ant-PMD integration and BuildStatistics.java.)

Q: Why did you favour Anthill OS instead of all other build tools listed? A: There was no evaluation or decision process. Anthill OS was just the first tool I got my hands on. Everything worked fine, so I did not look further. For a new project I would use Cruise Control because it is actively maintained and has a strong community. Paul Duvall has written a nice comparison of open source CI servers. If your build process is "heavy", you might want to have a look at commercial build servers. Some of them offer build farms. e.g. Anthill Pro, Parabuild or Team City.

Q: You divided all rules of PMD into four groups: error, warning, information and formatting. How can I get this categorisation? A: PMD comes with build in severity. Each rule definition contains an <priority> element. There are also some commercial tools that use PMD under the hood and have their own severity levels. Some of them even have references for each rule, why it's bad.

Q: You use a program called BuildRuleDoc to document used rules. Is it free or home-grown? A: I wrote it myself, but you can use it if you want to. The BuildRuleDoc.zip contains the code, the template to create the rule document, an Ant fragment and some test scripts. You will have to adapt the scripts in order to run them. Finally you need the XML rule set file of active PMD rules to generate the report.

(List of all my publications with abstracts.)