Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Getting teams started quickly on projects

The ability to get teams started on a project is something that takes a lot of time and resources. A few ways to mitigate that and get teams to speed fast are
1) Use Buildix(http://buildix.thoughtworks.com/) for setting up the infrastructure for the project like version control, continuous integration, agile project management and wiki and bug tracker. Buildix is open sourced under the apache license and automates setting up the basic infrastructure required fro the project.
2) Use Panopticode(http://www.panopticode.org/) to setup tools for gathering code metrics. Panopticode provides customized build scripts to integrate tools like Emma, CheckStyle, JDepend,JavaNCSS, Simian etc.
3) Use a VMWare mirror image to setup a developer box so as to remove any discrepancies across developer environments.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Windows Shortcuts and useful tools for developers

Here are a list of windows shortcuts and tools which every developer should know to work effectively.

Firefox Shortcuts
CTRL + number -- can be used to navigate between tabs in firefox. For example CTRL+1 gives the first tab,CTRL+2 gives the second tab etc.
Explorer Shortcuts
Alt+D -- leads to the address bar. The address bar as auto-completion like the tab in shells.
Command Prompt
F7 key--shows the command history
F8 key can be used to navigate across the history. Type the first few characters of the command and use the F8 key for auto-completion
Use pushd and popd. When inside a directory, pushd can be used to navigate to another directory and popd can be used to get back to the other directory. These commands work like a stack(LIFO), so prefer these over the simple cd.

CLCL -- a multi-clipboard utility
Command Prompt Explorer bar -- A sticky exlplorer-command prompt utility
Tweak UI
Virtual Desktop Manager

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Software Architecture Structures

This post talks about the Software Architecture Structures, and how these structures relate in the creation of an architecture. Software Architecture Structures can be divided into 3 broad categories

1) Modules

2) Component and Connectors

3) Allocations

1) Modules -- These are the units of implementation. These represent code based views of the system. The intent here is not related to any runtime considerations. Module based structures can be further sub-divided into

1. Decomposition --The units addressed here are that of submodules of a particular module. The intent is to break modules into smaller units such that each unit can be understood. This normally is the starting point of high level design and subsequent low level design. It also incorporates things like implementations, test plans etc. In addition a decomposition can also address questions related to changes made to the system. The intent should be to keep the changes local to a few sub-modules.
2. Uses -- One unit uses another if the correctness of one depends on the existence of the correct version of another. The uses structure can be used to extend the capabilities of a system as well as extract subsets of functionality which can be used for incremental development
3. Layered -- When the Uses structure is carefully modeled, normally layers emerge. These layers are areas of common functionality. Layered structures can be used to assess the dependence of one layer on the other as well as ensuring that the interactions of one layers are only with the layers above or below this layer. In addition, a layer at n should only depend for services on the n-1 layer and none other.
4. Class or Generalization -- The units in this structure are classes. Classes can be used to reason about collection of similar behavior or capabilities. Class structures is used for assessing reuse and incremental addition of functionality.

2) Components and Connectors --Component-and-connector structures help answer questions such as What are the major executing components and how do they interact? What are the major shared data stores? Which parts of the system are replicated? How does data flow through the system? What parts of the system can run in parallel? How can the system's structure change as it executes? These can be further sub-divided into

1. Processes --The process structure shows processes connected to each other through connectors, snychronizers,exclusions etc. This structure is important when looking at a systems performance and availibility.
2. Concurrency -- This structure allows for determining the areas where there can be a resource contention or where parallelism can be employed.
3. Shared data -- This comprises connectors and components that create,store or access shared persistent data. It shows how data is produced and consumed by the runtime components and can be used to ensure performance and data integrity.
4. Client -Server -- This structure shows the components as client server units and the connectors are the underlying protocols which are used for communication.

3) Allocation Structures -- This structure shows the relation between the software elements and the environment in which the software executes. These can be classified as follows

1. Deployment -- The deployment structure shows how software is assigned to hardware-processing and communication elements. The elements are software, hardware entities and communication pathways. Relations are allocated-to, showing on which physical units the software elements reside. This view allows one to reason about performance, data integrity, availability, and security.
2. Implementation --This structure shows how usually modules are mapped to the file structure in the system's development, integration, or configuration environments. This is critical for the management of development activities and build processes

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Kickstarting your day and honing your development skills

As per various studies conducted, it has been shown that developers tend to take at least an hour or more to get into the zone, where they are most productive. There are various ways which have been suggested like writing unit tests at the start if the day,etc. to get into the zone. Being a pragmatic programmer, i have found something which has helped me kick-start my day and get into the zone in the minimum time possible. The following recipe has done wonders for me.
At the start of the day, i take up a puzzle and spend 5-10 minutes in analyzing and solving it. Be aware the intent is not to come to a solution, but just to get the gray cells kicking. After this i normally try some programming problem, albeit a simple one using a new language which i am trying to acquire. I spend another 20-30 minutes in solving the problem. The problem could be as simple as trying to find a repeated integer in a list of otherwise unique sequential numbers. Getting these two activities at the start of the day has two-fold advantages. One it focuses the brain and secondly it helps me acquire a new skill. I have even tried using this after prolonged meetings just to get back into the zone. However a word of caution, the intent is not to get to perfection, but to time-box the effort. You can get back to the problems again the next day if you are stuck on something.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Regular Expressions Part 2

This entry continues the discussion regarding regular expressions from the previous post(Regular Expression part 1). We continue with a discussion of the rich meta-characters available. In this post i will take up some of the other meta-characters and discussion their usage. The pattern followed is the same as the previous post with some exercises thrown in for good measure.
  • Optional Items -- Suppose we wanted to search for the word June, which could be represented as either June or Jun. The ? meta-character means optional. So the search could be accomplished using June?. This can be interpreted as match J, then u then n followed by e if its there. So the ? is placed after the character that is allowed to appear at that point in the regular expression, but the existence isn't required to consider it a successful match. Expanding on the same lets say we have to match June 5th, which can occur as Jun 5, June 5th, or fifth. To match the following we can use (June|Jun).(5|5th|fifth). The first expression can be simplified as (June?) and the second one as fifth|5(th)?. Hence the complete expression can be re-written as June?.(fifth|5(th)?). One point here is that although there are different alternatives, choosing the right one needs some thought and introspection.
  • Repetition -- The + and * meta-characters are used for checking for repetition. + implies one or more of the preceding character and * implies any number including none of the item. Thus + fails if there are none of the characters but succeeds for one or many, * on the other hand always succeeds. As an example, to match spaces, one can use . ? which would match a single optional space, . + would match any number of spaces with at least one space and . * would match any number of spaces, if present. Lets take another example, where we have to search for the html tag &lt;hr size="10"&gt;. To build the regular expression, we need to have<, then HR followed by one or more spaces(allowed as per the semantics of html), followed by zero or more spaces, followed by = followed by zero or more spaces the number 10 , again zero or more spaces followed by >. Based on our discussion so far, this should be simple, Now lets try and generalise this to any size, not just 10, so the regular expression would look like For case insensitive search using egrep, we can use the -i option.
Exercise -- Write a regular expression for the same examplem as above, where the size attribute is optional e.i a simple
is a legal match.

  • Back References -- Many tools provide the ability for parentheses to remember text matched by the sub-expression they invoke. So as an example, ([a-z])([0-9])\1\2, \1 refers to the text matched by [a-z] and \2 refers text matched by [0-9]. We will see examples of using back-referencing in following posts.
  • Escapting Meta-characters -- In order to escape meta-characters, we can use \ to escape the meta-character. For example if we tried to match att.com, it could end up matching something like watt company. So we need to escape the meta-character . , this can be done using att\.com. This escapes the meta-character and treats the meta-character . like a normal character
This covers some of the most important meta-characters. In future posts i would expand on these fundamentals and show how applying regular expressions makes life simpler.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Regular Expressions Part 1

I have been a great fan of using regular expressions for solving day to day tasks. I thought it was time to post a series for discussing the use and syntax of regular expressions. In this post i will talk about some simple meta-characters and their uses with tools like egrep/grep. In addition i will try and set some small exercises to practice the understanding of the readers.

A regular expression is composed of a set of meta-characters like *, ^ etc and a set of literal characters like A-Z, a-z, 0-9 etc.

Some Simple Meta-characters
Let us start with a some simple meta-characters and how we can apply these to various scenario's. The
  • ^ - The Caret/Anchor is one of the simplest meta-characters and represents the start of the line which is being checked. For example ^cat would match all lines which start with the literal cat like catalog
  • $ - The dollar meta-character represents the end of the line which is being checked. So cat$ would match all lines which end with the literal characters cat, for example scat.
These 2 meta-characters are unique in the sense that they match a position rather than the actual literal characters themselves.

Exercise -- What would ^cat$, ^$ and ^ match ?

  • Character Class -- The meta-character [...] called the character class lets you list the characters you want to allow at that point of match. For example e matches just e , a matches just a, however [ea] would match both e or a. Thus the implied meaning is that of OR. Suppose you wanted to check whether you have spelt grey or gray. The following regular expression would match the occurance of both gr[ea]y. This matches g follows by r followed by either e or a followed by y. The - operator within a character class matches a range, so [0-9A-Z] matches occurances of numbers and capital letters. For example ] would help you while searching headers in html documents. The - is special inside a character class, otherwise it is used as a normal character and not as a range.
  • Negated Character classes -- A ^ inside a character class negates the matches. For example [^a-z] would match any character which is not a through z. Remember a negated character class means match a character thats not listed and not don't match whats listed
Exercise -- Figure out all words in a dictionary which contain a q not followed by a u
  • Matching Any character with dot -- this is simpler to explain with an example. Suppose you want to find a date 26/02/1977, which can also be represented as 26-02-1977 or even 26.02.1977. Not the . character can be used to match any character. So seemingly, 26.02.1977 should return us the date however it be represented, maybe with a - or a /. However, the above would also match a random number like 12264023197734. This is because the dot character matches any character. The correct way to do so would be to use something like 26[-./]02[-./]1977 (Note, the - is this case would not be a meta-character, since it immediately follows the [, if the same was written as [.-/], then it would become the range meta-character, also the . is not treated as a meta-character since it is inside the character class)
  • Matching any one of several sub-expressions -- The | (OR) operator lets you combine expressions into a single expression, that matches any of the individual ones. For example, based on the previous examples, we can rewrite gr[ea]y as gr(e|a)y. (Note-- we cannot use something like gr[e|a]y as inside the character class, | is treated as a normal character). We need the parenthesis because gre|ay would mean gre or ay.
Exercises 1) How does gr[ea]y differ from gr(e|a)y ?
2) What is the difference between ^:List|Of|Books: from ^(List|Of|Books): ?
Note -- Tools like egrep provide switches for case-insensitive searches. For egrep -i performs a case insensitive search.
Example -- egrep -i '^(Subject|Predicate):' myfile.txt
This serves as a good groundwork for someone wanting to start using regular expressions. I will be following up the post with detailed topics. Till then, cheers and keep the faith.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Art of analysis and problem solving

I have been wondering about the art of analysis and problem solving and decided to do a writeup using an example. A lot of developers tend to jump to writing code and never seem to bother about thinking out their solutions. For them if it works its fine. Moving away from this is a pre-requisite for anyone who wants to hone his development skills. In order to convey my point, i take up a seemingly simple example which displays how to analyze a solution before implementing it.

Problem Statement

Write a function which removes a set of characters from a given String. The signature of the function should be as follows

public String removeCharsFromString(String source, String remove)

Problem Analysis
The problem involves the following 2 steps
1) For each character in source, determine whether it needs to be deleted
2) Delete the character

Lets start with the actual deletion process first. You have to remove an element from an array. An array is a contiguous block of memory, so you cant remove an element from the middle as can be done with a linked list. So you have to rearrange the elements to maintain it as a contiguous block. For example if you need to remove c from an array containing abcd , you have to rearrange the elements. So you can either shift ab up or shift d down. In addition you need to decrease the size of the string by one.

Now how would the proposed algorithm work if you had to delete all elements from the source string. If the String is n characters long, this would mean shifting the last element by n-1, the second last by n-2 and so on, giving the worst time ass O(n^2).

How can we avoid this. What if you allocated a temporary string buffer and built your modified string there instead of in place? Then you could simply copy the characters you need to keep into the temporary string, skipping the characters you want to delete. When you finish building the modified string, you can copy it from the temporary buffer back into str. This way, you move each character at most twice, giving O(n) deletion. However, you’ve incurred the memory overhead of a temporary buffer the same size as the original string, and the time overhead of copying the modified string back over the original string. Is there any way you could avoid these penalties while retaining your O(n) algorithm?

To implement the O(n) algorithm just described, you need to track a source position for the read location in the original string and a destination position for the write position in the temporary buffer. These positions both start at zero. The source position is incremented every time you read, and the destination position is incremented every time you write. In other words, when you copy a character you increment both positions, but when you delete a character you increment only the source position. This means the source position will always be the same as or ahead of the destination position. Once you read a character from the original string (that is, the source position has advanced past it), you no longer need that character - in fact, you’re just going to copy the modified string over it. Because the destination position in the original string is always a character you don’t need anymore, you can write directly into the original string, eliminating the temporary buffer entirely. This is still an O(n) algorithm, but without the memory and time overhead of the earlier version.

Now to the actual part of deciding whether a character needs to be deleted. The easiest way is to compare all characters in the remove string with all the characters in the source string. If the size of the source string is n and the size of the remove string is m, this entails a running time of O(nm). How can we reduce this to a running time of O(m).

If we construct an array or a hashtable which has a constant time lookup, we can reduce the running time to O(m).
Lets construct an array containing all Booleans which is indexed by all the possible values of the characters in the source string. This enables you to determine whether a character is in remove by checking a single element.

Now the function will have 3 parts
  • Set all elements in the lookup array to false
  • Iterate through each element in remove, setting the corresponding value in the lookup array to true
  • Iterate through str with a source and destination index, copying each character only if its corresponding value in the lookup array is false
Now if we combine all the operations, the running time would be O(n+m) which is still linear.

Now lets take a look at the code

public String removeCharOccurances(String source,String remove){
char[] sourceArr = source.toCharArray();
char[] removeArr = remove.toCharArray();
boolean[] flags = new boolean[128]; // assumes ASCII!
int len = sourceArr.length;
int len1=removeArr.length;
int src, dst;

// Set flags for characters to be removed
for( src = 0; src < len1; ++src ){
flags[removeArr[src]] = true;
src = 0;
dst = 0;

// Now loop through all the characters,
// copying only if they aren't flagged
while( src < len ){
if( !flags[ (int)sourceArr[src] ] ){
sourceArr[dst++] = sourceArr[src];

return new String( sourceArr, 0, dst );

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

REST-ful services using JAX-WS 2.0

REST style services conform to a set of constraints and architectural principles
  • RESTful services are stateless. Each request from a client to a server must contain all the information necessary to understand the request and must not depend on any stored contextual information on the server.
  • REST-ful services have a uniform interface. For example for a RESTful HTTP service, the operation supported are GET, POST, PUT and DELETE.
  • REST based architectures are built from resources which are identified by unique URI's.
  • REST components manipulate resources by exchanging representations of the resources.

The fundamental differences between REST and RPC based services can be outlined as
  • RPC services work by invoking a procedure on a server rather than by exchanging representations of a resource.
  • In the RPC approach typically many operations are invoked at the same URI, which is fundamentally different from the REST way where every resource has a unique URI.

RESTful vs SOAP based services

Message Format

Interface Definition


XML XML inside a SOAP envelope
none WSDL

In order to consume a RESFful service using JAX-WS 2.0, the majority of the work needs to be done using the javax.xml.ws.Dispatch interface. The javax.ws.xml.Service interface is the abstraction which provides the client interface to a web service. Since RESTful services do not have WSDL representations, the way to deal is a bit awkward, however that is the way JAX-WS has been designed. We use the Service interface to create an instance of the javax.xml.ws.Dispatch interface. Dispatch is a low level API which allows users to create messages by working directly with XML rather than using high level API's like JAXB etc.

The following code displays the basics and is discussed below

QName svcQName = new QName("http://xyz", "svc");
QName portQName = new QName("http://xyz", "port");
Service svc = Service.create(svcQName);
svc.addPort(portQName, HTTPBinding.HTTP_BINDING, args[0]);
Dispatch dis =
svc.createDispatch(portQName, Source.class, Service.Mode.PAYLOAD);
Map requestContext = dis.getRequestContext();
requestContext.put(MessageContext.HTTP_REQUEST_METHOD, "GET");
Source result = dis.invoke(null);
try {
.transform(result, new StreamResult(System.out));
} catch (Exception e) {
throw new IOException(e.getMessage());
The web service url is as a command line argument(arg[0])
  • The client uses the Service.addPort() method to create a port within the Service instance that can be used to access the RESTful Web service.
  • Next, the Service.createDispatch() method is invoked to create an instance of Dispatch—a Dispatch instance that enables you to work with XML request/response messages as instances of javax.xml.transform.Source.
  • The Dispatch.invoke() method then packages the XML request—per the JAX-WS 2.0 HTTP Binding—and sends it to the RESTful service. The invoke() method waits for the response before returning.
  • The service processes the HTTP GET and sends an HTTP response that includes the XML.
  • The invoke() method returns the response XML message as an instance of Source.
The addPort() method takes a URI parameter that defines the transport binding. The default is SOAP over HTTP but for RESTful services we use the HTTPBinding.HTTP_BINDING. The type of payload is specified in the createDispatch() method. Generally when passing SOAP messages, Service.Mode.MESSAGE is used to indicate that you want to work with the complete SOAP envelope as opposed to just the SOAP body(PAYLOAD). In case of RESTful services since there is no enveloper, PAYLOAD mode is used.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Pair Programming

Kick-start the day by writing a unit test, just to get the grey cells working

Getting down to serious stuff.

This isnt making a lot of sense, is it.

Getting some tips from the senior partner

See that wasn't so difficult was it.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Light weight java game library

Being a server side guy, i decided it was time to do a bit of game programming as a challenge. I have started looking at LWJGL (Light Weight Java Game Library) which can interface with libraries like OpenGL and OpenAL. Still need to come up with a concept to start using it for developing a prototype, but time i did something different.

Friday, May 30, 2008

new java puzzlers (As presented in Javapolis --2007)

Just to flex your java muscles here are some java puzzlers -- taken from the javapolis 2007 session by neal gafter and josh bloch

1) Set of Shorts (hehehe)

public class ShortSet {
public static void main(String[] args) {
SetshortSet=new HashSet();
for(short i=0;i<100;i++){
System.out.println("Size of Set =" + shortSet.size()) ;
The choices are
3) Throws an exception
4) None of the above

2)Racy little number

public class Test extends TestCase {
int number;
public void test()throws InterruptedException{
Thread t=new Thread(new Runnable(){
public void run(){
assertEquals(2, number);

What is the outcome of this test
1) Passes Sometimes
2)Fails Sometimes
3)Always passes
4) Always hangs

Monday, May 26, 2008

How to derail your experts and ruin their performance

Its very simple, force them to follow rules. Experts draw a lot based on their experience and intuition as opposed to novices who need a set of rules which tells them what to do exactly to finish the task at hand, like filling your tax return forms(i never figured that out, just follow whats written there). Any corporate/methodology which follows iron clad rules for development tends to pull the experts down and drags their performance to a novice level. The industry tends to ruin experts often in this way. We can say that they are trying to herd racehorses, rather than racing them. Intuition is a tool to an expert, but organizations discount it saying its not scientific/repeatable etc. Conversely, we also tend to take novices and throw them in the
deep end of the development pool—far over their heads. Here we’re trying to race sheep. A misguided sense of political correctness tends to treat all developers the same way, irrespective of the fact that there is a 20:1 to 40:1 in the productivity of the developers.

Living out of the box

I managed to read the book from the Arbinger institute related to living out of the box(cant remember the name of the book). Seems a similar concept to the one proposed by psychologists Kruger and Dunning in their paper Unskilled and Unaware of it:How difficulties in recognizing one's own incompetence leads to Inflated Self Assessment.

The Dreyfus model

Developed by two brothers who were interested in AI, the Dreyfus model has been used successfully in different areas for developing skills and understanding how to transition from novice to an expert. Rather than analyzing something as a whole, it treats things on a per skill level. For example, someone might be a novice cook but be great at playing tennis. Interesting concept and worth reading, researching and applying.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The bane of java exceptional handling

Exception handling should be fail safe. What it implies is that the last exception which is thrown should be propagated up the call stack. However taking a look at a simple example shows how complicated exceptional handling can be.
Lets take a scenario of the following block of code where we are trying to open a file
InputStream input = null;


input = new FileInputStream("myFile.txt");

//do something with the stream

} catch(IOException e){
throw new WrapperException(e);
} finally {
} catch(IOException e){
throw new WrapperException(e);

Now suppose that the file myFile.txt does not exist, so an FNFE(FileNotFoundException) would be
thrown from the try block. The catch blocked would catch the FNFE , wrap the exception and rethrow it.
Till now all seems well. When the call reaches the finally block, since input is null,
a call to input.close() would result in a NullPointerException(NPE) being thrown.
Now since the finally block never catches a NPE, it would propagate up the call stack.
The WrappedException(WE) from the catch block simply disappears.

The way to avoid this would be to check whether the resource in not null in the finally block.Right, makes
complete sense, but lets take another scenario. Lets say the file myFile.txt is found but there is an
IOException(IOE) thrown due to some other reason. What happens, the try block throws IOE, which is
wrapped and rethrown. Now before the exception propagates up the call stack, the finally block is executed,
if the call to input.close() fails, a new IOE would be thrown, but the original exception would still be lost.
Damn Cute, aint it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Iterating over Map's

A lot of times, i have come across the following code for iterating over a Map

Map values=new HashMap();
for(Integer key:keys){
String val=values.get(key);
A better way is
Map values=new HashMap();
String val=entry.getValue();
It is better to get a reference to Map.Entry and then iterate instead of getting all the keys and making the Map object do the work of fetching the value each time

N Queen Problem

This would be a good problem to solve. Its been a long time since i tried something like this.

The N Queen Problem is a generalized form of the 8 queen problem. In the 8 Queen problem, we have to place 8 queens on a chess board so that none of the queens is in check from any other queen(The queen should not be in the same row, column or diagonal). The N Queen problem would involve generalizing this to a n X n board with n queens.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Identifying Patterns and creating Higher Order Functions

A higher order function is a function which takes functions as parameters or returns a function. As an example, let us consider the following

1) Sum of all integers between two integers a and b
def sumInts(a:Int,b:Int):Int ={
if (a>b)

2) Sum of square of all integers between two integers a and b

def square(x:Int) :Int=x*x

def sumSqaure(a:Int,b:Int):Int ={
square(a) +sumSquare(a+1,b)

3) A function to square all the powers 2^n where n betweentwo integers a and b

def powerOfTwo(x:Int):Int={

def sumPowerOfTwo(a:Int,b:Int):Int ={
powerOfTwo(a) + sumPowerOfTwo(a+1,b)

These functions are all instances of {Summation from a to b} for different values of f . We can factor out the common pattern by defining a function sum

def sum(f: Int => Int, a: Int, b: Int): Int ={
if (a > b)
f(a) + sum(f, a + 1, b)

Using sum, we can formulate the three summing functions as follows.

def sumInts(a: Int, b: Int): Int ={
sum(id, a, b)

def sumSquares(a: Int, b: Int): Int ={
sum(square, a, b)

def sumPowerOfTwo(a: Int, b: Int): Int = {
sum(powerOfTwo, a, b)

def id(x: Int): Int = x

def square(x: Int): Int = x * x

def powerOfTwo(x: Int): Int = {
if (x == 0)
2 * powerOfTwo(x-1)

Tail Recursion

Consider the following 2 recursive functions

def gcd(a:Int,b:Int):Int ={


def factorial(n:Int):Int={

n *factorial(n-1)

There is an important difference between the two rewrite sequences: The terms in the rewrite sequence of gcd have the same form repeatedly. As evaluation proceeds, their size is bounded by a constant.

By contrast, in the evaluation of factorial we get longer and longer chains of operands which are then multiplied in the last part of the evaluation sequence.

In the implementation of gcd, one notes that the recursive call to gcd is the last action performed in the evaluation of its body. One also says that gcd is tail-recursive.

The final call in a tail-recursive function can be implemented by a jump back to the
beginning of that function. The arguments of that call can overwrite the parameters
of the current instantiation of gcd, so that no new stack space is needed. Hence,
tail recursive functions are iterative processes, which can be executed in constant
By contrast, the recursive call in factorial is followed by a multiplication. Hence,
a new stack frame is allocated for the recursive instance of factorial, and is deallocated
after that instance has finished. The given formulation of the factorial function
is not tail-recursive; it needs space proportional to its input parameter for its
More generally, if the last action of a function is a call to another (possibly the same)
function, only a single stack frame is needed for both functions. Such calls are called
tail calls. In principle, tail calls can always re-use the stack frame of the calling

Friday, May 2, 2008

Scala vs Java : Implementing quicksort -- not optimized

Below is an implementation of a quicksort the java way

void sort(int[] xs) {
sort(xs, 0, xs.length -1 );
void sort(int[] xs, int l, int r) {
int pivot = xs[(l+r)/2];
int a = l; int b = r;
while (a <= b)
while (xs[a] < pivot) { a = a + 1; }
while (xs[b] > pivot) { b = b – 1; }
if (a <= b) {
swap(xs, a, b);
a = a + 1;
b = b – 1;
if (l < b) sort(xs, l, b);
if (b < r) sort(xs, a, r);
void swap(int[] arr, int i, int j) {
int t = arr[i]; arr[i] = arr[j]; arr[j] = t;
Quicksort the scala way ... looks neater and is easier to understand

object QuickSort {
def sort(xs:Array[Int]):Array[Int]={
val pivot=xs(xs.length/2)
sort(xs filter (pivot >)),
xs filter (pivot ==),
sort(xs filter (pivot <)))

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Zero Turnaround time with javarebel

JavaRebel is a java agent which enables reloading changes made to java classes on the fly. It enables developers to work without redeploying or re-starting a container. It works in both the Java EE and SE environment.
A normal deployment cycle looks like
1) Make changes to your classes
2) Create the new archive
3) Touch the archive in the deployment environment
4) Restart application server/Redeploy application
5) Check the modifications
With JavaRebel, you can reduce the above steps to
1) Make changes to your classes
2) Background compilation
3) Check for modifications

For standard environments using java 5 and above, we need to add the following to the jvm path
-noverify -javaagent:/path/to/javarebel.jar

For an app-server environment, for JBoss 4.x, we need to add the following in the $JBOSS_HOME/bin/run.sh(%JBOSS_HOME%/bin/run.bat on windows), add the following
JAVA_OPTS="-noverify -javaagent:javarebel.jar $JAVA_OPTS"
or on Windows
set JAVA_OPTS= -noverify -javaagent:javarebel.jar %JAVA_OPTS%

Happy Non-Deployment :-)

Monday, April 28, 2008

New features in EJB 3.1

There are some key changes which are going to be part of EJB 3.1 . Some important changes are cataloged here
1) Session bean business interfaces are going to be optional. The intent is to bring the Session beans as close to POJO's. Another advantage is that the it makes using EJB 3.1 beans easier to use in Web Beans (JSR 299).
2) Singleton Beans - These are the middleware equivalent of the GOF singleton pattern. These can be used to store shared application scope data. Although there are alternatives for caching shared data, the issue with these solutions is that they lack services like thread management, security, transaction management etc. Singleton beans being Enterprise beans have these services provided by the container. All singleton methods are assumed to be thread-safe and transactional(@Required). Thread safety can be changed using @ConcurrencyAttribute and transaction demarcation can be done the standard way transaction demarcation and transaction attributes. Concurrency management can also be managed at the bean level using @ConcurrenyManagement(BEAN) and synchronizing on methods you want to be thread-safe
3) Timer service - The main enhancements is the ability to trigger EJB methods using a cron like scheduling using the @Schedule. The bean method can be triggered based on seconds till the level of year.
4) EJB packaging -- As of now, EJB's need to go as a separate jar file. A typical ear contains a separate ejb-jar for an EJB and a war for the web app. However for simple applications, it would be possible to place the EJB's directly in the war's WEB-INF/classes to simplify the packaging process.
5) Asynchronous invocation of session beans- Although MDB's provide the capability of using asynchronous invocations, it is an overkill for using for simple applications. You are forced to use messages and JMS even for very simple scenarios. With EJB 3.1, session beans can be invoked asynchronously.
6) EJB Lite -- a subset of the EJB features based on the Java EE 6 profiles(ref --http://weblogs.java.net/blog/robc/archive/2008/02/profiles_in_the_1.html).

External References
1. JSR 316: Java EE 6, http://jcp.org/en/jsr/detail?id=316.
2. JSR 318: Enterprise JavaBeans 3.1, http://jcp.org/en/jsr/detail?id=318.
3. JSR 299: Web Beans, http://jcp.org/en/jsr/detail?id=299.
4. Spring Pitchfork Project, http://static.interface21.com/projects/pitchfork/files/m4/docs/reference/html_single/.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Using the ternary operator

There are many scenarios i which developers have to narrow to a specific type based on a super type which is passed. The following code is what i have normally observed
Lets assume we have the following hierarchy

Class A {
Class B extends A {
Class C extends A{
Now someMethod takes A as a parameter and needs to narrow it to a specific type B or C
public void someMethod(A a){
A a1=null;
if(a instanceof B) {
a1=new B();
a1=new C();
//other stuff here
A better approach for brevity sake would be use the ternary operator
A a1= a instanceof B ? new B() : new C() ;
This reduces 4 lines to 1 which is some improvement.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Exception handling on a per thread basis

The following applies to Tiger and above. Prior to Tiger, an uncaught exception would propagate from a Thread to its ThreadGroup, propagate up to the root ThreadGroup and print the trace. To circumvent this, we can now implement a nested interface of the Thread class called Thread.UncaughtExceptionHandler. You can create your own implementation of this interface to handle uncaught exceptions.
Note - prior to Tiger, we would have to create our own ThreadGroup, assign any Thread we create to this ThreadGroup and handle the uncaught exception in the ThreadGroup ( a lot of shit for nothing of substance)

Autoboxing and Unboxing

Integer i1 = 256;
Integer i2 = 256;
if (i1 == i2) System.out.println("Equal!");
else System.out.println("Not equal!");
The output in this case would be "Not equal!" as these are two separate Integer objects,
so "==" returns false.
However, the following
Integer i1 =100;
Integer i2 = 100;
if (i1 == i2) System.out.println("Equal!");
else System.out.println("Not equal!");
will return "Equal!", Remember that int values from -127 to 127 are in that
range of immutable wrapper types, so the VM actually uses the same
object instance (and therefore memory address) for both i1 and i2. As a
result, == returns a true result.

Perfecting OO classes/methods

The following constraints help in writing better OO code
1) Use only one indention per method, if there is a need to indent again create another method and call that method from the first one.
2) Don't use else. Use the if condition to test the condition and exit the method if the condition is false. So every method tests for just one thing
3) Wrap all primitives and Strings to prevent primitive obsession. If you need to use a primitive, create a class to define its role.
4) Use only one dot per line. This prevents you from reaching deeply into objects to get to methods and fields and prevents breaking encapsulation.
5) Don't abbreviate names. Hence you spend less time thinking about method names. Thus have methods for Order like ship() rather than Order.shipOrder() ;
6) Keep entities small. No more than 50 lines per class and no more than 10 classes per package. This helps to keep classes concise and focused.
7) Don't use classes more than 2 instance variables. Difficult but then a lot of instance variables might warrant extracting a class.
8) Use first-class collections. In other words, any class that contains a collection should contain no other member variables. The idea is an extension of primitive obsession. If you need a class that’s a subsumes the collection, then write it that way.
9) Don’t use setters, getters, or properties. This is a radical approach to enforcing encapsulation. It also requires implementation of dependency injection approaches and adherence to the maxim “tell, don’t ask.”

The emperor and me beaching

The Devil next door

Kaiser The Emperor