The Holy Java

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Posts Tagged ‘best practices’

Demonstration: Applying the Parallel Change technique to change code in small, safe steps

Posted by Jakub Holý on February 3, 2017

The Parallel Change technique is intended to make it possible to change code in a small, save steps by first adding the new way of doing things (without breaking the old one; “expand”), then switching over to the new way (“migrate”), and finally removing the old way (“contract”, i.e. make smaller). Here is an example of it applied in practice to refactor code producing a large JSON that contains a dictionary of addresses at one place and refers to them by their keys at other places. The goal is to rename the key. (We can’t use simple search & replace for reasons.)

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JDBC: What resources you have to close and when?

Posted by Jakub Holý on February 18, 2013

I was never sure what resources in JDBC must be explicitely closed and wasn’t able to find it anywhere explained. Finally my good colleague, Magne Mære, has explained it to me:

In JDBC there are several kinds of resources that ideally should be closed after use.  Even though every Statement and PreparedStatement is specified to be implicitly closed when the Connection object is closed, you can’t be guaranteed when (or if) this happens, especially if it’s used with connection pooling. You should explicitly close your Statement and PreparedStatement objects to be sure. ResultSet objects might also be an issue, but as they are guaranteed to be closed when the corresponding Statement/PreparedStatement object is closed, you can usually disregard it.

Summary: Always close PreparedStatement/Statement and Connection. (Of course, with Java 7+ you’d use the try-with-resources idiom to make it happen automatically.)

PS: I believe that the close() method on pooled connections doesn’t actually close them but just returns them to the pool.

A request to my dear users: References to any good resources would be appreciate.

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The Sprinting Centipede Strategy: How to Improve Software Without Breaking It

Posted by Jakub Holý on January 14, 2013

Re-published from

Our code has been broken for weeks. Compiler errors, failing tests, incorrect behavior plagued our team. Why? Because we have been struck by a Blind Frog Leap. By doing multiple concurrent changes to a key component in the hope of improving it, we have leaped far away from its ugly but stable and working state into the marshes of brokenness. Our best intentions have brought havoc upon us, something expected to be a few man-days work has paralized us for over a month until the changes were finally reverted (for the time being).

Lessons learned: Avoid Frog Leaps. Follow instead Kent Beck’s strategy of Sprinting Centipede – proceed in small, safe steps, that don’t break the code. Deploy it to production often, preferably daily, to force yourself to really small and really safe changes. Do not change multiple unrelated things at the same time. Don’t assume that you know how the code works. Don’t assume that your intended change is a simple one. Test thoroughly (and don’t trust your test suite overly). Let the computer give you feedback and hard facts about your changes – by running tests, by executing the code, by running the code in production.

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Programming Like Kent Beck

Posted by Jakub Holý on September 12, 2012

Republished from with the permission of my co-authors Stig Bergestad and Krzysztof Grodzicki.

Three of us, namely Stig, Krzysztof, and Jakub, have had the pleasure of spending a week with Kent Beck during Iterate Code Camp 2012, working together on a project and learning programming best practices. We would like to share the valuable lessons that we have learnt and that made us better programmers (or so we would like to think at least).

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Most interesting links of May

Posted by Jakub Holý on May 31, 2011

Recommanded Readings

Acceptance testing / Specification by example:

  • Gojko Adzic: Anatomy of a good acceptance test – an example of refactoring a bad acceptance test into a good one – good for learning about pitfalls and how a good one should look like
  • Gojko: Top 10 reasons why teams fail with Acceptance Testing – acceptance testing is great and brings lot of value but must not be underestimated; some of the problems are bad collaboration, focusing on “how” instead of “what,” confusing AT with full regression tests. Brief, worth reading.
  • Specification by Example: a love story (go directly to the PDF with the story): A nice, made-up story of going from low-level, workflow-based Selenium tests through similar Cucumber ones to true BDD tests describidng clearly what, not how – very well shows the point of specification by example and how it should (and should not) look like

(Enterprise) Java best practices:

  •  Clean code, clean logs: 10 brief posts on logging best-practices – nothing really new here for me but in total it is a very good overview that every developer should know
  • Make Large Scale Changes Incrementally with Branch By Abstraction – Continuous integration doesn’t work well with branches but as this article shows, you can manage even large-scale refactorings without branches using “branch by abstraction,” an approach reminding me of Fowler’s “strangler application” (an incremental replacement of a legacy system). The idea is: 1. Create an abstraction over the part of code to be changed;  2. Refactor the code to use it; 3. Implement new functionality using the new way / step by step move old functionality too, the abstraction layer delegating either to the new or old implementation … . It may be more work but: 1) your software is always working and deliverable; 2) (side-effect) in the end it will be more decoupled


  • John Wiegley’s Git from the bottom upp (31p, Git, PDF) – a useful explanation of the fundamentals of Git, i.e. how it is constructed and how it works, which makes it much easier to understand how to  use it properly (recommended by Pål R.). Reading the The Git Parable first may be a good idea for an easy introduction into the fundamentals, though absolutely not necessary. This document introduces very well the important Git concepts (blob, index, commit, commit names such as branches, reflog) and how they cooperate to provide the rich set of functionality it has. It also explains well the value and usage of rebase. Among others I’ve appreciated the tip to use checkout, branch -m <new-branch> master, branch -D instead of the much more dangerous reset –hard and the tip to use stash / stash apply to create daily backups of your working tree in the reflog (with clearing it with ‘git reflog expire –expire=30.days refs/stash‘ instead of stash clear). Also git diff/log master..[HEAD] for reviewing work done in the current branch and and git diff/log ..master for checking the changes since the last merge/rebase after a fetch are interesting.


  • The secret power of bookmarklets – bookmarklets are an indispensable tool for every developer who works with web applications (to fill in test data, speed up log in, …), yet I’m sometimes surprised by meeting people who don’t know or use them; this blog explains them nicely, links to some useful ones and some useful tools for building them

Recommended Books

  • (*****) Implementing Lean Software Development: From Concept to Cash by Mary Poppendieck, Tom Poppendieck – A great introduction into lean thinking (the values and principles it is build upon), clearly communicated with the help of “war stories”. I absolutely recommend it to anybody interested in lean/agile.
  • (**** ) Agile Project Management with Scrum (Microsoft Professional) by Ken Schwaber – Even though you can’t understand Scrum without experiencing it, this book full of war stories will help you to avoid many Scrum implementation pitfalls and to understand its mantra of “the art of the possible” and will show you how to adapt Scrum to various situations. It’s very easy to read thanks to its format of brief case studies organized by topics (team, product owner, …).

Favourite Quotes of the Month

@unclebobmartin: Cleaning code does NOT take time. NOT cleaning code does take time.

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Real-world data prove that Agile, BDD & co. work – lecture by G. Adzic

Posted by Jakub Holý on April 14, 2011

I’ve attended a very inspirational lecture by Gojko Adzic, organized by the Oslo XP Meetup. Many people including some respectable persons claim that Lean, Agile, and high-level testing based on specifications (whether you call it Agile acceptance testing, Acceptance-test driven development, Example-driven development, Story-testing, Behavior-driven development, or otherwise – let’s call them all Specification by example) do not work.

To prove the contrary, Gojko has collected over 50 case studies of projects that were very successful thanks to using these methods. In his soon-to-be-published book, Specification by Example (download ch1, a review), he investigates what these projects and teams had in common, which was missing in the failed ones. So it’s great for two reasons: It documents how great success you can achieve with Specification by Example and it shows you how to implement it successfully.

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Most interesting links of December

Posted by Jakub Holý on December 31, 2010

In the last month of 2010 I’ve stumbled upon surprisingly few intersting articles, partly due to having a lot to do in my job.

  • Reusable Code Is Bad (for advanced developers only!) – we know duplication is bad but “premature enabling for reuse” is equally bad – or ewen worse – because it introduces more complexity and you most likely aren’t going to need it anyway. Apply your experience and knowledge to detect when you will actually benefit from reuse and reduce overall maintenance and complexity. Read the comments too, there’re some interesting ones.

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