The other day I was trawling the Java web sites (Javalobby, The Server Side, etc) and I found “Sonar”.
It takes well established tools (like checkstyle and PDM) and meshes them into a “quality platform” (aka web site) that would blow the socks and shoes off any manager or CTO wanting to take the next step in quality control. You can analyse, dissect, bisect your code, monitor the team check-ins for infringements and watch quality metrics change over time (probably as existing as watching grass grow).
I had a quick look at Sonar and bookmarked it (in the hope that I would find time between work, kids, EJB certification, bike riding, etc to have a look at it).
However, it got me thinking…
“Do all these metrics, style checkers and bug finders really make a difference?”
On reflection, I think that code analysis tools are bit like vitamins (see here) and standard practices (like code documentation, issue management, technology selection & investment, scope management, estimating, etc) are like a good diet.
- are easy to take
- get plenty of media attention
- may make a small difference (but this is not conclusive)
- may harm (especially in large, enforced doses)
- are often sold (by managers to their managers) as the solution to every ailment
A good diet ..
- is boring and hard to sell!!
- is know by almost everyone, but followed by very few people
- needs to be in place from the start and not added as a last minute “band-aid”
If you still think you need a vitamin boost … check out the Solar in a nut shell and start popping those “FindBugs” tablets and “CheckStyle” supplements.