Tools of the Trade

15 Aug

Entry 8, Day 14

Over ten years ago I have written my home page in PHP. Nothing really big, but it had a user system, administration, news, comments, file downloads, image gallery with some search/paging options, rating etc. I think there was around 100 – 200kB of code. I did this almost entirely in Windows notepad, only at the end switching to some kind of editor with html syntax highlighting. But things can be done easier.

First, you need an integrated development environment. I will use Eclipse Luna, released not even two months ago. I’m using Eclipse for over five years and still learning new stuff on a weekly basis. Alternatives are: InteliJ, NetBeans or something else.

When dealing with web application, there are several useful tools on the browser side. First, the browser itself and it’s integrated development tools, at you disposal when dealing with html, css and client side scripting problems. My favourite is Firefox. When browser tools are not enough, I recommend Firebug, excellent for debugging JavaScript if you are in a pitiful situation that you need to do that (you shouldn’t if you use GWT, but…). In order to work with GWT efficiently, you need DevMode, it will compile your Java code to JavaScipt on the fly and allow to see changes almost instantly, Yo will need a plugin for Eclipse and a plugin for your browser to accomplish this. Unfortunately since Firefox 27, support for DevMode has ended (wtf dudes?), so either stay at 26 or try some workaround.

Compiling, putting into jars, bundling etc. – Maven is your friend here. If you are old school, get back to Ant.

When you write something and it works, or even before it does, you are in need of some version control system. As of my information, Git recently took over SVN in terms of popularity. Also, I’ve worked long enough under SVN, so lets try something different. Git it is.

Having a build automation and version control, you can put them together in continuous integration tool. It will take the code each time someone does commit and each night, build stuff and scream at you if you blew something. Jenkins is probably the best choice here. You may know it’s older version, Hudson, which killed itself after being taken over by Oracle.

There are plenty of additions to CI, most of them also available as IDE plugins.

Most notably, test automations frameworks. Unit tests for low level stuff (go JUnit with Mockito) and web/GUI tests for high level/integration (Selenium being a popular choice).

It is good to have some kind of static code analysis. Teach it a set of rules, and it will guard your code from deteriorating at low level and perhaps find some bugs for you, that might have slipped through runtime test suite. Check out FindBugs. For higher level of analysis I recommend SonarQube (known simply as Sonar in the old days). It will also give you a bunch of numbers about your codebase, if you like numbers. I like numbers.

There are plenty other useful stuff for your CI, e.g. some dashboard view, excellent to de displayed somewhere high on the wall, to tell others that your build is never broken. Or to tell you that it actually is now and it would be nice to fix it. You may also want to hear this.

Besides development, you want to keep track of what is to be done, ongoing and done. So basically a product and a sprint backlog. Until now I’ve used mostly simple Excel and physical pin board, I need to do some research here and get back to it.

Also there are systems for issues tracking (fancy term for bugs), which may be used instead of, or with backlogs to help you control your chaos. (Hi Kate ;))



Posted by on August 15, 2014 in BookSentry, Technology



2 responses to “Tools of the Trade

  1. Michał Liszewski

    August 15, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    Don’t stop at CI. Go Continuous Deployment.
    Have you thought about code reviews. It’s not quite essential for one man project, but you may get some useful feedback from your peers. ( is a great tool)


    • gvaireth

      August 15, 2014 at 8:51 pm

      I will take a look for sure :)



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