Interesting Links, 28 Mar 2016

  • The Apache Foundation has announced the release of PDFBox 2.0. Apache PDFBox allows for the “creation of new PDF documents, manipulation, rendering, signing of existing documents and the ability to extract content from documents.”
  • TechEmpower‘s Web Framework Benchmarks features Rapidoid as the fastest web framework – and Rapidoid is written in Java. It’s worth noting that the benchmark, being a benchmark, isn’t exactly “real world” – and Rapidoid doesn’t win every category – but it’s still pretty impressive to see Java, with it’s (ancient and outmoded) reputation for lack of speed, featuring so highly here.
  • AngularBeans: A Fresh New Take on AngularJS and JavaEE discusses the use of the AngularBeans project to expose functionality from CDI beans.
  • Docker Commands and Best Practices Cheat Sheet, from our friends at ZeroTurnaround, is pretty useful.
  • Functional Programming: Concepts, Idioms and Philosophy is an attempt to sum up functional programming for people who might not be familiar with the idiom. Not bad, but if you want to really dig in deep, you might check Manning‘s Functional Programming in Scala, which does a fine job exposing you not only to the idea, but its strengths and weaknesses.
  • Chronicle Map is, according to the project site, an in-memory key-value store designed for low-latency and/or multi-process applications. Notably trading, financial market applications. Looks interesting – there are plenty of distributed key/value stores around, it might be interesting to see how this one compares to things like Apache Ignite, GigaSpaces’ community edition, Oracle Coherence, Terracotta DSO, and other such candidates.
  • Markov Chains explains, well, markov chains. Basically, markov chains are a state transition method that predicts the “next state” using probabilities – you can build conversations using markov chains to predict likely responses. (For example, “vote Trump for President” has likely responses of “Gosh, why” or “heck yeah, let’s build us a wall!”) The reference link is actually a really nice explanation.

Interesting Links, 17 Mar 2016

This list was originally supposed to be published over a week ago, but life’s been busy. Sorry, folks! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

  • A succesful Git branching model considered harmful is a response to another article, A successful Git branching model. Both models can work; which one works better for you depends on a lot of factors that are likely to be unique to your development environment. (I’ve used both: I find the “cactus model” better, personally.)
  • The Four Software Engineering Personality Types describes four personalities (surprise) in development environment: Iron Man, Michaelangelo (the sculptor, not the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle), Yoda, and Captain America.
    • Iron Man is a tinkerer – get 90% of the project done, really quickly.
    • Michaelangelo is the detail-oriented, deep-diving programmer – the one who spends years on a given project, working out every detail. Michaelangelos’ projects tend to be unusable until they’re done – then they’re mission-critical and awesome.
    • Yoda is a teacher (or, if you like, a puppet with a hand up his… I mean, “a teacher.”) These are the guys who know tons of stuff, and show it to others, growing an organization and providing wisdom – and a great lever when they focus on doing specific tasks.
    • Captain America is the workhorse, the one who’ll roll up his sleeves and do the unpleasant work. Like in the comics, Captain America and Iron Man go well together; Iron Man rockets through the stratosphere, flashy and quick, and Captain America cleans everything up and makes it work well.
  • The Deep Roots of Javascript Fatigue goes into the rather chaotic waters of JavaScript development. Java’s in a great place: it’s dynamic enough that the community finds new and interesting ways to develop software all the time, but it’s also stable enough that you’re not having to relearn how to do everything every year, which is the situation you find in JavaScript. Excellent writeup, even if JavaScript development isn’t quite as dire as it might sound on the surface.
  • And now into our selection of excellent DZone content: Abstraction Considered Harmful..? has a bit to say about abstractions: they’re good, but sometimes they’re leaky (and therefore can be bad). But mostly they’re useful. From the article: “Abstraction, in and of itself, is not harmful. On the contrary, it’s necessary for progress. What’s harmful is relying on impenetrable barriers to protect our precious programmers from hard problems. After all, the 21st-century engineer understands that in order to play in the sand, we all need to be comfortable getting our feet a little wet from time to time.”
  • In Anatomy of a Good Java Test, Sam Atkinson (who will show up again in this same collection of interesting links) walks through a simple recipe for good testing. It looks like it’s based around JUnit4 and Hamcrest – hardly awful choices, but also not necessarily the state of the art (or the only way to write good tests). Good baseline, though.
  • In In Defense of the Fifth Year Developer, Matthew Casperson argues for some of the abstraction discussed earlier – the point’s not very clear, but complex code laden with abstractions is easier to test and verify, because it breaks problems down into identifiable units.
  • And back to Sam Atkinson: In Constructor vs. Getter: A Better Way he discusses the use of no-operation classes to wrap optional behavior (thus: NoOpNotifier, with methods that do nothing, instead of a null that has to be checked). This simplifies the code path (a good thing), and also helps with that pesky abstraction thing. Good article.

Interesting Links, 1 Mar 2016

Happy March 1, it’s April Fool’s Day! Oh, wait…

  • From ##java itself: Anthaas_> 99.7% of people who say C++ is faster are not capable of using the highly-skilled techniques required to make that true. Now, about how he collected the data to validate that statement…
  • posted “Gradle vs Maven Feature Comparison“, with a description of “At long last, a comprehensive feature comparison of Maven vs Gradle that shows in detail what Build Automation requires in the Age of Continuous Delivery.” Surprisingly – or not – Gradle comes out well ahead, but most of the features sound more useful than they actually are for most users. (Until, that is, you really need that feature.)
  • Maven Testing Module describes using a Maven module solely for holding resources used for testing. It’s a module that’s included in other project modules at test scope; it has the testing frameworks and other dependencies in it, so your other modules will no longer be cluttered by test resources or artifacts. Cool idea. (For example, you can put H2 in your test project, along with some stored procedures and a test schema for it, and import them into your application for validation… just kidding, avoid stored procedures unless they’re used for every last bit of your data manipulation. And don’t do that.)
  • Heinz Kabutz is back, with “Checking HashMaps with MapClashInspector” – which walks through some of the things you should, and could, think about when designing hash codes for your objects. Highly recommended. Precis: “Java 8 HashMap has been optimized to avoid denial of service attacks with many distinct keys containing identical hash codes. Unfortunately performance might degrade if you use your own keys. In this newsletter we show a tool that you can use to inspect your HashMap and view the key distribution within the buckets.”
  • Of course the announcement propagates right after the links get published… but Flyway 4.0 has been released. This is a database migration tool – if your schema changes during development (or for any other reason), tools like Flyway are beyond valuable in terms of keeping your schema versioned. Highly recommended. The main alternative to Flyway is Liquibase – that’s not an endorsement of either project, just a plea to save your devops people by using tools designed to help them, instead of making them issue manual SQL to update a schema.