Code Reviews Done Right

Posted Leave a commentPosted in corporate culture, quality assurance

Recently, I’ve been working with a project team embracing code reviews. The experience wasn’t pleasant. Most of the time, it was downright annoying.

The general idea of code reviews is that one of your team members dedicates several hours of their precious time to look at your code and help you to improve it. That’s a generous offer. Plus, hardly anybody rejects an opportunity to learn and improve their coding style. I, for one, definitely don’t. So how come the code reviews were such a pain in the ass?

Comments in JSF Files

Posted 5 CommentsPosted in BootsFaces, JSF

Earlier this day, a developer opened a bug ticket for BootsFaces. <b:panelGrid />, they said, is buggy. Adding a comment between the columns corrupts the layout, they said.

Actually, that’s true, but I wouldn’t call it a bug of BootsFaces. It’s a peculiarity of JSF. We could solve it in BootsFaces. At least, most of the time. I’m sure there are corner cases we’ll always miss unless we start to parse the code as thoroughly as a compiler. That’s possible, but it doesn’t match the general idea of JSF. Even worse, we can only solve the bug for BootsFaces components. It still exists for standard JSF, PrimeFaces, ButterFaces, and every other JSF framework you combine with BootsFaces. So I prefer to explain the bug instead of solving it.

Why are Angular Components more Successful than JSF Components?

Posted 6 CommentsPosted in Angular, JSF, simpliying JSF

At first glance, there are many similarities between Angular and JSF. Both offer a decent abstraction layer from the DOM, both offer two-way binding (yes, I know it’s optional since Angular2), and both use components as building blocks of the application. Even better, both frameworks offer a way to create your own custom components. The difference is that hardly anybody creates custom components in JSF. Angular programmers do it all the time.

Things get even more mysterious when you learn that JSF has been designed with creating components in mind. It should be easy. But the vast majority of developers doesn’t think so.

Angular: Components first

Angular takes components to a whole new level. When AngularJS 1.0 was released seven years ago (on Oct 20, 2010), that was a revolution. Developers used components all the time, no matter which framework they used. Everybody knew it’s a good idea to download or buy a powerful third-party framework. The idea was that powerful components like datatables or charts should be developed by experts.

AngularJS and its predecessors changed all that. They made the process of creating components much more democratic. They enabled everybody to create their own component. React and Angular 2+ go one step further down that road. They force every developer to write their own components. The entire program is built on custom components. There’s no way to avoid custom components.

Modbus in a Nutshell (Plus a Short Introduction to IoT and PLC Programming)

Posted Leave a commentPosted in factory automation, IoT, PLC programming

Have you ever had the opportunity to work on a factory automation project? Currently, I’ve got the opportunity to program software controlling real hardware in an assembly line. My program influences real machines in the real world. Most of the software I’m writing remains in cyberspace, so I consider “getting real” pretty exciting.

One of the key requirements of our project is that we have to use the Modbus protocol. That’s an old protocol dating back to the 80s. Even so, I wasn’t happy with the documentation. One might expect such an old, battle-tested protocol to be thoroughly documented. Well, it is, in a sense. The only problem being that most of it has been written for experts. So I decided to write a cursory introduction for the hurried Java developer. After reading it, you should be able to understand the expert documentation. Along the way, you’ll learn something about the IoT world the media keep raving about. If you’re only interested in Modbus, just scroll to the PLC section.

Static Code Analysis: SonarQube, Facebook’s Infer, and TypeScript

Posted Leave a commentPosted in quality assurance

Infer is a static code analysis tool promising finding many bugs that escape the attention of many other tools. My curiosity was piqued. The result was underwhelming: Infer found four possible NullPointerExceptions in the source code of BootsFaces. Later I ran SonarQube. It found many other potential NullPointerExceptions. Any in both cases, half of the findings where false positives.

Since version 2.0, TypeScript has a built-in NPE finder. It works very well. Of course, it sometimes finds false positives, too. But if you activate the compiler switch --strictNullChecks from day one, that’s not a big problem because you notice the problem while you’re writing the code. You can tell the compiler to ignore the non-bug in a couple of seconds.

Compiler as a Service: Why TypeScript 2.5 Biggest Feature is a Refactoring

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Concepts of programming languages, TypeScript

TypeScript 2.5 is there! That’s the headline of the tweet sending me to the TypeScript 2.5 announcment. To my surprise, the article described a new refactoring of Visual Studio Code. Did they choose the wrong title? Is this article really about TypeScript, or is it about an IDE?

As it turns out, refactoring is baked into the programming language. In former times, refactoring used to be what IDEs do. Nowadays, refactoring is a compiler feature. At least in the case of .NET languages and TypeScript.

What’s New in BootsFaces 1.1.3?

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in BootsFaces, simpliying JSF

Two weeks ago, Neil Griffin, the head of the LiferayFaces project, approached us. He asked us to do a few minor changes so the next version of Liferay and LiferayFaces can be shipped with a BootsFaces demo.

That, in itself, is quite a surprise. Liferay has finally migrated to Bootstrap 3. Obviously, BootsFaces wasn’t compatible with previous versions of Liferay. Funny thing is that at the same time the BootsFaces team discusses when it’s time to move on to Bootstrap 4. It seems the Bootstrap 3 version is going to be maintained a bit longer than expected.

So we published BootsFaces 1.1.3 quickly to align it with the Liferay release, which is expected by the end of this month (i.e. August 2017).

BootsFaces Resource Loading Deep Dive

Posted Leave a commentPosted in BootsFaces

Many BootsFaces developers want to add third-party code to BootsFaces. Usually, that’s a Bootstrap component, a jQueryUI plugin or another combination of JavaScript and CSS. Almost always, these plugins fail to work if they are loaded in the wrong order. So BootsFaces added a fine-grained mechanism allowing you to control the load order.

To my dismay, the resource ordering still causes a lot of trouble, so it’s high time to describe it in detail.


Newsflash: Investing in a Good Corporate Culture Boosts Your Team’s Productivity

Posted Leave a commentPosted in corporate culture

Basically, this article is simply a pointer to another article I’ve just read. In a way, we all know what happens if we discourage other people in a critical moment, but I can’t help but observe how often we ignore it. Every once in a while, I even meet team making bullying a hobby. John Looney describes the effect of such a behavior in his article. Highly recommended!

Software Testing Techniques in a Nutshell (Part 1: The Human Factor)

Posted 3 CommentsPosted in quality assurance, testing

The previous article in this series explained why it takes so many techniques to ensure software quality. This article explains a couple of these techniques.

Test methods in a nutshell

When I started investigating for this article, I stumbled upon a post resonating many of my thoughts on testing. In the meantime, the post has been deleted. It has been replaced by a Youtube video that’s slightly different (probably better). Be that as it may, the original post of Itamar Turner-Trauring inspired me to draw this picture, covering most of the popular test approaches and summarizing the post.
This image groups software testing techniques into four quadrants, based on whether they can be automated and on whether they are tied to a formal specification. By

Let’s start with the quadrant you probably don’t associate with testing. The green quadrant focuses on the user and on our customer.

Software Testing Beyond Unit Testing – the Bigger Picture

Posted Leave a commentPosted in quality assurance, testing

Software testing beyond unit testing. Image source: time I write about unit testing, people get angry. So let me explain why I rant about unit tests every once in a while.

First of all, there’s nothing wrong with unit testing. That’s not the point. Usually, I start ranting when I notice people believe in unit tests religiously. Many good developers seem to believe that unit testing is the only test tool they ever need. Both agile programming and continuous delivery make us believe such a nonsense.

There’s so much more to testing than just unit tests. This post gives you a short overview about different test techniques. It’s not an in-depth explanation of these approaches to testing. Instead, it focuses on telling you why they are important. You’ll see there are many important tests that can’t be automated at all. You’ll always need human beings to test your software.

Comparing TypeScript to Java

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Concepts of programming languages, TypeScript

To my surprise, I saw that many people visit my website after searching for “TypeScript vs. Java”. The question makes sense, so let’s answer it. What’s the difference between the two languages? When to chose which? Do they compete at all?

Why should we compare TypeScript to Java?

At first glance, the answer is simple. TypeScript “lives” in the browser. Java lives everywhere else. So they don’t compete at all. End of the article.

However, TypeScript is an attractive language for people with a Java background. To them, the question is slightly different. Is TypeScript an easy language to learn?

Plus, there’s Node.js. Using JavaScript on the server has become surprisingly popular. TypeScript compiles to JavaScript, so it has become a direct competitor to Java.

When Unit Tests Backfire

Posted 4 CommentsPosted in quality assurance, testing

Everybody knows that unit tests are valuable. So it’s a lot of fun playing Devil’s advocate as I did some time ago when I raved about the value of compiler checks for keeping up the quality of your program. So here we go: unit tests are expensive. You never know when or if they pay off.

Thing is, my experience shows that unit tests are not always good. Sometimes they even backfire. I’ve seen this in at least two projects. This time, I don’t want to talk you out of using unit tests (maybe another day), but I want to make you aware of the risks.


Reactive Programming with Angular by Example (Part 3)

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Angular

In the previous parts of this series, we’ve learned how to work with data loaded asynchronously. Now let’s have a look at some of the advanced use cases. How can we combine multiple REST calls if we need the result of both to start working?

Let’s continue our address example. Let’s assume we want to send a letter to a customer. To send the letter, we need two chunks of data: the content of the letter itself, and the address we want to print on the envelope. We can’t send the letter until we’ve received the response of both REST calls.

Reactive Programming with Angular by Example (Part 2)

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Angular

In the first part of this series, we’ve seen how to call a REST service and how to display the result asynchronously. Now we’re going one step further. How to work with data that isn’t really there, but can only be observed as a volatile stream of data events? Because that’s what an Observable is. Reactive programming is stream processing, and the strictest form of reactive programming uses Observables without memory.

Reactive Programming with Angular by Example (Part 1)

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Angular

Web applications benefit a lot from reactive programming. The application reacts immediately when the user clicks, even if it takes a couple of second to load the data. In the early days, applications used to stall at this point. The computer froze, and you couldn’t say whether it had crashed or not. So developers invented the progress bar. That’s still freezing but in a more entertaining way.

Modern web applications do a lot better. They show the next page immediately, filling in data a bit later. That approach has many advantages. It gives the user immediate feedback. You can also load the top-most data first and load less often used data later. In most cases, this even means the user can continue their work earlier.

Let’s have a look how to do this with Angular. Reactive programming isn’t difficult, but if you’re not used to it, you have to learn to think outside the box.

Too Old to Learn a New Language?

Posted 1 CommentPosted in developer productivity, project managment, software design

The other day, a co-worker and I held a talk at the Java Forum Stuttgart. Our topic was the UI techradar we’re currently developing. So much of the talk was devoted to comparing UI frameworks, raving about Angular, about the advantages of programming your smartphone natively in ObjectiveC, and why it’s still a good idea to stick to Java and JSF.

All of a sudden one of the attendees asked a question I wasn’t prepared for. It was a good question, but I didn’t take it as seriously as it deserved. Even worse, I laughed it off. That’s something you must never do. When I noticed my mistake, it was too late to correct it. So I decided to blog about it. It’s a late answer, and I don’t know if it’s ever going to be read by the guy asking the question, but here it is.

The question was:

Angular and React may be great. But do you really expect everybody who’s crossed the 35 years mark to learn a new programming language each year, just to use the UI framework of the week?