Developer Tools

Diagramming Tools – A (Biased) Survey

Posted in Agile & Development Methodologies, Design Patterns & Architecture, Developer Tools, Java, UML & Diagramming on September 21st, 2012 by Christopher Deschenes6 Comments

Diagramming tools can help you to quickly understand a new project, debug code, visualize and enforce usage patterns, and quickly generate high quality documentation.  All good.  However, not all tools are created equal and there are lots of legacy tools (UML has been around for a while).  I wanted to take a look at what is out there to get a sense for how these tools are evolving.

Below is a slice if you will through what are some next generation offerings in software development, tools that are trying to do something different, and some well established old-guard tools that everyone has heard of and compares all comers too.

Code Canvas Example

Debugger Canvas  Debugger Canvas by Microsoft (see video) is based on Code Canvas which was developed at Microsoft Research in  collaboration with the Code Bubbles folks from Brown.  Debugger Canvas is available to premium Microsoft Visual Studio license holders.  I love how you can view a GUI widget, its documentation, and implementation side by side in one clean view.  The development metaphor is very different from a traditional IDE.


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I’ve Just Inherited an Application – Now What?

Posted in Developer Tools, Documentation & Communication, Java, UML & Diagramming on July 31st, 2012 by Christopher DeschenesBe the first to comment
Lucene Overview Diagram

What if I had a diagram like this?

I have previously written about how lack of decent software documentation can cause problems in doing what we developers love to do, deliver functioning software. Documentation, code comments and good variable naming are all key to understanding code.  This applies to both code that we write and applications that we use through their API’s.  We could just as easily be looking at C/C++/C#, Python, PHP or any language but for now let’s stay with Java (read more about advantages of Java over other languages at .

I want to illustrate how useful diagrams are in understanding an existing complex Java code base. Understanding code quickly is particularly important when inheriting a new project or trying to figure out how to use a third party package or open source project. As we all know we are typically faced with tight deadlines, limited resources, and herculean objectives. Sound familiar? read more »


Docs- Who needs them?

Posted in Developer Tools, Documentation & Communication on June 28th, 2012 by Christopher Deschenes1 Comment

Software documentation is one of those things that is sorely missed when it isn’t there.  Why is it the last thing that any of us developers wants to do?  It seems that it is easy for us to ignore documenting in the heat of the situation, but we always get burned in one of many ways.

Literate Programming Style Code View

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Code Visibility: one factor of code quality that you shouldn’t forget

Posted in Agile & Development Methodologies, Design Patterns & Architecture, Developer Tools, UML & Diagramming on July 13th, 2011 by xin Zhou2 Comments

Every developer cares about code quality. But how do you maintain code quality throughout the software development cycle? Readability, modularity, and efficiency all are important factors of writing good code but there isn’t much agreement on the best way to maintain a high level of code quality.

One factor which is often missed in discussions is code visibility, or making sure your code has a clear structure so that others can easily understand it. (Take a look at the diagram above for some of the difficulties encountered when there is a lack of code visibility).
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Uh oh, not another Large Code Base!

Posted in Developer Tools, Java on June 21st, 2011 by Novita Mayasari3 Comments

I came across two blog posts which agree that large code bases are a hassle to programmers. The first post, “Code’s worst enemy” written by Steve Yegge, basically loathes large code bases and Jeff Atwok shares the same opinion in “Size is the enemy”. The problem with large code bases is that their physical size is indication for the large amount of effort, cost and time to be invested for that project, as stated in Steve McConnell books.

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Understanding What Others Are Upto!

Posted in Developer Tools, Eclipse, Java on March 21st, 2011 by Seth RosenBe the first to comment

One of the challenges when working in teams is in keeping up with your fellow developers. Spending a lot of time reading others’ code not only means less time getting your own work done but also the gradual deterioration of the code architecture. This is a problem that we have heard over and over again from developers and managers alike.

We have just released additional code and architectural review tools that will help developers easily understand new features that are being built. We are pleased to announce that we will be demoing this functionality at EclipseCon 2011 as part of the Hot New Products Showcase. With this release we not only have a full fledged code review client and server, but also are making it really easy for developers to document the main parts of what is being worked on. Our new features will help developers create and maintain more comprehensive architectural documentation, solving a number of common development issues.

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From Java to Spring and Beyond – Making Diagrams (and UML) work for developers

Posted in Developer Tools, Eclipse, Java, UML & Diagramming on March 21st, 2011 by Seth Rosen1 Comment
One of the strengths of working with Java is the large number of frameworks that are available. These frameworks are great for taking care of the basic tasks involved in building Java based apps. But they often bring about challenges in understanding – whether it is xml files or annotation based configurations, developers needing to work with these frameworks have to see how different parts of the code are connected.
With this in mind we have extended Architexa to not just show code relationships but have also built special support for popular frameworks like Spring and Struts. We are happy to announce that we will be demoing this functionality at EclipseCon 2011 as part of the Hot New Products Showcase.
We are pushing the edge here – so we are making this capability available as an ‘early access’ version. You can find it by default in all versions of the Architexa Suite. We would really like to hear what you think about it, and invite you to extend your trial of the product as we refine the implementation based on your feedback

Making Cool Ideas Happen: Studying Our Users and Software Immigrants

Posted in Agile & Development Methodologies, Developer Tools, User Experience on March 3rd, 2011 by Abhishek Rakshit5 Comments

One of the nice things about being Software Developers, is that it’s really nice to spend our time working on cool ideas:  building out systems that help in situations where no solution currently exists. The problem is that often these cool ideas fail. Yes, using an Agile approach helps significantly, especially when customers/users request features. But often customers don’t realize what problems they need solved or what developers are capable of. Skilled engineers have the opportunity to really push the envelope with new and innovative ideas. The challenge then becomes making sure that these new ideas actually meet a need.

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Eclipse Cheat Sheets: A Hands on Tutorial

Posted in Developer Tools, Java on December 15th, 2010 by Seth Rosen3 Comments

Based on the great response we have had to our previous cheat sheets articles, (why they rock and tips and tricks), I have decided to post a more in depth tutorial. One of the many benefits of Cheat sheets is that they provide an immediate improvement to your product’s usability and are simple to implement. This article will allow you to quickly create multiple cheat sheets.

To help get you started we have created a cheat sheet on cheat sheets: This cheat sheet can be opened from within eclipse and will guide you through the simple steps for setting up a cheat sheet for your own project.
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Eclipse Cheat Sheets: Tips and Tricks

Posted in Developer Tools, Java on December 8th, 2010 by Seth RosenBe the first to comment

We talked about in a previous post why Cheat Sheets Rock. Our users have found them useful in the Architexa plugin and we are in the process of adding a great deal more cheat sheets to it. We have also had requests from our readers for more details on creating and utilizing cheat sheets effectively. Some of the most important tips that we found helpful while adding cheat sheets to our product are below to help you get started.
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