Jtest 5.0 Eliminates Excuses

 
 
By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2003-10-27 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Provides tight testing environment for Java apps.

Its no small trick to make software source code analysis a pleasure, but the excellent design and open-ended flexibility of Parasofts Jtest 5.0 combine to eliminate a developers excuses for releasing anything but the most refined grade of Java.

At different stages of a project, a developer can mean different things by the simple word "test." Jtest 5.0, which ships to customers this week for $3,495, accommodates those many meanings by defining (or letting a developer define) many different test configurations. One configuration might merely compare the code against predefined or custom-built lists of style rules; another might generate and perform actual tests, based on the analysis of such properties as the input and output statements in a Java class, to probe for potential run-time problems.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Parasoft Jtest 5.0
With a clean, new, Eclipse-based workbench environment, Parasofts Jtest adds to its arsenal of Java code analysis capabilities and offers exemplary ease of use. Pricing for Jtest 5.0 starts at $3,495.

KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS
USABILITY EXCELLENT
CAPABILITY EXCELLENT
PERFORMANCE GOOD
INTEROPERABILITY EXCELLENT
MANAGEABILITY EXCELLENT
SCALABILITY GOOD
SECURITY GOOD
  • PRO: Extensive control of coding rules and standards used for source code analysis; rapid navigation to error sites; intuitive Quick Fix one-click repair of many errors.

  • CON: Expensive compared with most development suites; Linux/Solaris versions not yet available; incomplete "undo" facility.
  • EVALUATION SHORT LIST
    Borland C# Builder ArchitectBorland Softwares Optimizeit SuiteCompuware Corp.s DevPartner Java Edition Mercury Interactive Inc.s Mercury

    During tests, eWEEK Labs found Jtest 5.0 intuitive in terms of specifying tests to be performed and understanding the results, which the Jtest workbench environment displayed in the same tree-structured format—using informative icons—that it used to display the structure of the code that was under review. Users of such mainstream Java tools as Borland Software Corp.s JBuilder will find Jtest straightforward.

    When our errors invited obvious repairs, such as adding a "falls through" comment to a case-statement clause that lacked an explicit "break" or "return," Jtest offered us a Quick Fix pop-up menu that described the suggested repair—or offered several options—and executed our choice with a click of the mouse.

    We have two cavils, however, on this otherwise well-conceived feature that is new to this release.

    First, the source code editor did not force the error into view before offering the list of repairs, and we can readily imagine a developer mistakenly looking at one error while inadvertently fixing—or perhaps, merely compounding—another.

    This quirk interacted, unfortunately, with a more serious oversight. Choosing one of the suggested Quick Fix options made the source code change and removed the corresponding error from the list of outstanding problems; choosing Undo from the edit menu reversed the change to the code but did not restore the error alert to the display in the other pane of the environment. We had to rerun tests to regenerate the error list. We hope that this will be quickly addressed in a future release.

    Code-quality tools annoy developers when they demand that code protect itself against errors that can never occur. We appreciated the Quick Fix options that added "design by contract" preconditions to our code, indicating that a situation was intended never to arise, as well as alternative actions to handle such cases correctly.

    In general, Jtest 5.0 demonstrated careful human-factors design. We particularly liked the color-coded bar running down the right-hand margin of the Jtest 5.0 source code window that quickly gave us a sense of the location, clustering and types of errors found in our code, with one-click hyperlinking to the lines corresponding to each error.

    In this regard, Jtest 5.0 builds on the foundation of the Eclipse Platform, which the open-source Eclipse Project describes as "an open extensible IDE [integrated development environment] for anything." The Eclipse effort also enjoys the support of other premier toolmakers, including IBM, Borland, IBMs Rational division, Telelogic AB, MKS Inc. and SlickEdit Inc. The excellent navigation aids in Jtest 5.0 demonstrate the running start that a tool can get from having access to a full- functioned workbench framework, rather than wasting time on the reinvention of wheels.

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    Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at salesforce.com, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developers' technical requirements on the company's evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter company's first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

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