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JDJ Product Review — Parasoft Jtest 8.0

A real heavyweight

In terms of unit testing and code compliance, Jtest is a real heavyweight in the arena. For those who haven't come across Jtest before, it's an application that will analyze your Java application code for you. At present Jtest has 700 built-in rules and 100 security rules and it will autocorrect 250 of those rules for you. It provides Parasoft SOAtest hooks for testing of SOA/Web services and Web apps. The reporting engine is also built-in so once tests are run, you can view and print results via a Web browser. There are some new features such as improved J2EE testing and the Bug Detective, which I will cover later in this review.

The front end is built on the Eclipse framework so it will be familiar to some of you. Test projects are created the same way you would create a project in Eclipse. The wizards are easy to use and I got up and running in a short time. You can also buy Jtest as a plug-in for Eclipse (versions 3.0 - 3.2) and IBM Rational Application Developer. I would strongly suggest playing with the example projects for a short time before using your own code, just to get used to how the application operates.

Basic Testing
Once a project is set up, testing the code is a fairly simple matter. Don't try and test every Java file in one huge test. Jtest is quite memory intensive; my Pentium4 1GB laptop decided to die as the machine couldn't handle all the processing. Parasoft recommends 2GB of memory to use Jtest properly. Selecting a couple of files or a package at a time usually works best. There are built-in configurations to test certain aspects or specific texts written in the past (there's a configuration based on Joshua Bloch's "Effective Java" series, for example). You can configure Jtest to run as many or as few of the rules as you want. A good starting point is to check for standardization guidelines. Jtest will also create JUnit test cases in JUnit 3 format and now includes execution of JUnit 4 test cases. In one click you can standardize your code, write the test cases and execute them, then finally read the report to see how it all went. There is a tabbed review of the tests run and their outcomes; highlighted problems are easily found - it's a matter of double-clicking the error. From there the QuickFix tool can correct most problems that are found. (Figure 1)

Team Working
If you work in a team, it's pretty safe to assume that you would be using some form of source code control. Jtest can work with CVS, Subversion, ClearCase, and StarTeam. Jtest has improved the team-working aspect and can monitor commits and check-ins from defined team members. This is handy for developers in different countries; let's assume there is a team manager and a small group of developers. The manager can now arrive at work in the morning, launch Jtest, and review all the latest CVS-committed code by the team members. From the CVS logs, Jtest can tell you what has been changed and how the tests have performed. Any corrections can be noted via Jtest and the team members will be notified when they start their working day. In theory, all the developers have tested the code and all the developers have notes via the CVS log on any corrections or complications that need addressing. This does assume that all team members are using Jtest. For a large corporation with many developers, this is a serious benefit. Over time, you can see how the code quality and test coverage has performed.

J2EE Testing
Jtest supports Struts, Spring, and Hibernate projects and also the standard J2EE EJB/JSP and servlet specs. These items can also go through the same rigorous standards testing as all other types of source code. Some of the code convention rules have been designed for the likes of Struts and Hibernate applications. (Figure 2)

BugDetective
Testing applications prior to execution is all very well but the majority of bugs only surface when running the application. We can run our own test harnesses but these usually scratch the surface of what actually needs testing. In Jtest 8 there is a new feature - BugDetective, a new static analysis technology that simulates execution to automatically identify real execution paths - often paths that span multiple methods, classes, and/or packages - that will lead to runtime bugs such as NullPointerExceptions, resource leaks, SQL injections, and other security vulnerabilities. This is helpful in terms of database access applications as it's difficult to establish what the problems are going to be. It also means that GUI applications can be tested properly. During my testing, no matter what I threw in, in terms of bad coding (NullPointerExceptions, not closing open I/O streams, etc.), the BugDetective managed the whole thing with flying colors.

Jtest Tracer
Jtest has one more feature up its sleeve: Jtest Tracer, which can write JUnit test cases on the fly while your program is running. In the example source, there is a basic GUI application with a LIFO and FIFO stack. While the program is being run and the user enters some test data Jtest is putting together a test case in the order in which it was run. It's an achievement that should not be left on the side. It may be a new feature but this brings Jtest into a class of its own.

Conclusion
Jtest has matured with age and is getting like a fine wine now. There are facets that I discover every day that make me open my eyes and go, "Wow!" It's a large complicated product, but for a large team it's essential. This product is not for everyone and not every developer has the cash for the license fee. I'd love to see Parasoft do a stripped-down community version of Jtest, even if it was a stripped-down version of the coding rules and tests.

SIDEBAR

Parasoft Corporation
101 E. Huntington Drive
Monrovia, CA 91016
Web: www.parasoft.com
E-mail: [email protected]
Phone: 888-305-0041

SIDEBAR 2

System Requirements
Operating System
     • Windows: Windows 2000, XP, or 2003
     • Linux: Red Hat 9.0, Fedora Core 1-3 or higher, Red Hat E.L. 2,3
     • Solaris: Solaris 9 or 10

Hardware
     • Intel Pentium III 1.0 GHZ or higher recommended
     • 512MB RAM minimum; 2GB RAM recommended
     • Sun Microsystems JRE 1.3 or higher

More Stories By Jason Bell

Jason Bell is founder of Aerleasing, a B2B auction site for the airline industry. He has been involved in numerous business intelligence companies and start ups and is based in Northern Ireland. Jason can be contacted at [email protected]

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