by Jeff Langr

August 06, 2009

I was very excited to start using Infinitest once again. But as things seem to go with me, I ended up moving on to something else that dominated my mindshare–in this case, a new project where I am using NetBeans. Why NetBeans? Because someone set up the project to use Maven, and all I’ve heard is that NetBeans is magical when it comes to integrating with Maven (and Eclipse, not so much).

As I would expect, both Maven and Maven support in NetBeans are really nice as long as they’re working well. But Maven seems to adhere to the 80/20 rule. It’s great 80% of the time, up until you have to do something a little out of the ordinary, or when things aren’t working like they’re supposed to. Then the numbers reverse–you spend 80% of your time trying to work on the remaining 20%. In the case of Maven, I’m struggling with getting coverage reports against multiple modules, and it’s also presenting me with a defect (operator error?) where NetBeans reports half the Maven modules as “badly formed Maven projects.” Google searches, and assistance from others with more Maven experience than me, have not been very fruitful.

This is the third time I’ve used Maven, and I’m warming up to it more each time, but it’s still been a frustration. Part of frustration is always lack of knowledge, particularly around the behind-the-scenes workings that you need to know when you hit the 20% esoterica. Thanks to those who have helped!

On the other hand, this is also the third time I’ve used NetBeans heavily. I’m not really warming to it much. Granted, part of my disappointment with NetBeans is the same problem. The best way to learn not to hate something is to pair with someone who knows it well, and I’ve not been able to get much pairing time.

Other than the Maven support, NetBeans seems much weaker than Eclipse. It’s slower (e.g. a Ctrl-O to search for types takes many seconds to return class names, compared to Eclipse’s Ctrl-Shift-t which is almost immediate). It’s flakier (e.g. half the time, ctrl-F6 to run a test pops up its JUnit GUI, the other half the time I see only the console output; also, the formatting mechanism appears to be broken). It seems to be the last of the three main Java IDEs for which people write plugins (e.g. Infinitest is only available for Eclipse and IDEA, not NetBeans). And it’s just missing key important things (e.g. there is no inline method refactoring until NetBeans 7.0).

I can live without every last bell and whistle. But it’s always disappointing to see other people whistle in cool little ways, like Kerievsky’s nice trick with inline method, and not get to play along.


Anonymous May 8, 2010 at 12:59am

There is no way to read the Kerievsky trick without becoming a member of the Yahoo group. It would be helpful to cut and paste the content.

Jeff Langr May 10, 2010 at 07:44am

Posted by Joshua K., August 5, 2009:

One of the refactoring strategies I defined and use quite a bit is called Parallel Change. You put new behavior next to old behavior (wherever it is) and then do a Gradual Cutover from old to new. When you’re done cutting over to the new code, you need to get rid of the old code.

Say you’ve got some old method that was called in 10 places in a class. The new code, which had been placed under each of the 10 calls to the old code, is now doing the real work. You don’t need the old method and the calls to it.

In the past, I would delete the method, then follow the chain of red marks to delete each call to the old method. That was before a smart student pointed out a better way:

  • Delete the body of the old method

  • Inline the old method – effectively inlining “nothing”

That approach is much faster and far more satisfying.

Is this something folks already do? It had not occurred to me to use inline in that way to delete code.

This does go along with an observation I’ve made that the better you get at refactoring, the more you use the Inline Method refactoring.

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Jeff Langr

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Jeff Langr has been building software for 40 years and writing about it heavily for 20. You can find out more about Jeff, learn from the many helpful articles and books he's written, or read one of his 1000+ combined blog (including Agile in a Flash) and public posts.