Liking Gradle

April 17, 2010

Last week I have spend a lot of time getting Maven 2 the way I wanted. In most cases Maven is doable, but in case Multiverse, I have some very specific requirements. I need to run the same tests again using different configurations (javaagent vs static instrumentation) and I also need to fabricate a very special jar that integrates all dependent libraries (using jarjar) and does some pre-compilation.

The big problem with Maven is that defining complex builds using the plug-in system is not that great. I have spend a lot of time on configuring the plugins because they were not working like expected or not working at all.

A long time ago I took a look at Gant, but ANT (even if you do it in groovy) still is ANT; meaning a lot of manual labor. So I wanted to give Gradle a try; the power of Groovy combined with a plugin system and predefined build system from Maven. And after 1 day of playing with the scripts, I have got most stuff up and running exactly like the current Maven system (even the artifacts being deployed to the local maven repository!). And I guess that during this week I can make the switch final.

One of the things I really need to get started on, is creating an elaborate set of benchmarks. Using Maven it is fighting the framework, but with the complete freedom you have in Gradle, but still all the facilities provided by plugins, it think it is going to a joy to begin with.

We’ll see what Maven 3 is going to bring, but I’m glad that there is a usable alternative available.

Design patterns and design problems

October 24, 2007

At the moment I’m playing with Ruby (building a Norton Commander thingy based on GTK) and one of the things I’m realizing (again) is that a lot of ‘design’ complexity disappears because Ruby, in a lot of cases, is cleaner and less verbose. For example: in Java you would have to create a Strategy (aka Policy) or Template Method if you need to inject a function, in Ruby you can use a closure. The consequence is that small grained design in Java is difficult, and this is caused by all the syntactic overhead (interface definitions, anonymous innerclasses, template-methods etc).

I don’t say design patterns are bad, but some design patterns (I would rather call them concepts) are harder to implement in some languages, and this inhibits good design: you are damned if you do, and damned if you don’t (if you don’t, your code gets ugly, and if you do, your code gets ugly).

Design pattern = Concept + Implementation
Concepts often are good, implementations often are limited by the host-language.

DSL’s: a higher abstraction to the rescue

June 29, 2007

One of the things that bother me is that it is very easy to loose overview in large wired structures and I think DSL’s can limit the distance between specification and implementation. Example of something set up with a very low abstraction in Spring:

    <bean id="fileWritingProcess"

    <bean id="resequenceProcess"

    <bean id="fileWritingProcessor"
        <constructor-arg index="0"
        <constructor-arg index="1">
                <ref bean="resequenceProcess"/>
                <ref bean="fileWritingProcess"/>

    <bean id="fileWritingProcessorRepeater"
        <constructor-arg index="0">
            <bean class="org.codehaus.prometheus.processors.ProcessorRepeatable">
                <constructor-arg ref="fileWritingProcessor"/>

        <property name="exceptionHandler">
            <bean class="org.codehaus.prometheus.exceptionhandler.Log4JExceptionHandler"/>

        <property name="shutdownAfterFalse"

And this is only 1/4 of the XML configuration.

Or now written in a DSL in Groovy (I’m still playing with the concepts and Groovy, so it could be that the syntax isn’t correct).

def piped = environment{


I think most can imagine what the last script is doing without knowing anything of the application. That is the power of a DSL.