The value of testing in Java

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128 The value of testing
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For this final section of the book we will take the opportunity to expound the value of testing code before release, as well as discussing some of the features which we think make polished code One of the elements of Java which makes for an interesting and challenging environment is that anyone will be able to download software which will give the user an impression of your company; if there is a commercial incentive linked with the code, the quality of the development will have a direct effect on the profits of your organization Therefore, it is critically important to be sure that the code will create the impression that was intended and that the user is left in the right frame of mind 1281 Interface design One of the most important elements of software design is also the most frequently overlooked The way that the user interacts with your software is of prime importance It is not sufficient simply to bolt together an interface without regard to how it will function or how the user will operate the software Instead, the whole of the design of the interface (and potentially, therefore, elements of the internal code structure) should be carefully planned, involving a human factors analysis wherever possible We cannot overstate the value of a well-designed interface It is perhaps the most important part of any software system regardless of the language or the design model 1282 Cross-platform testing One of the most important features of Java can also be one of the most important problems for releasing code The cross-platform support inherent in Java means that one set of compiled code can run on a whole range of machines without any changes While this is true in theory, the practice is that as Java is ported to an increasing range of platforms by an increasing range of organizations, there are bound to be some differences in the way that the run-time environment is implemented This means that code which should operate in exactly the same way on all of the platforms may exhibit strange behaviour on certain types of machine The best way to address this is to test the code on a wide range of equipment before shipping to the user Since Netscape will almost certainly be the dominant browser for at least the next 12 months, it might be sufficient to test on just the platforms which are directly supported by Netscape The amount of testing that you will perform will be directly related to the importance of having your code run correctly universally For some free code issued by an individual, the amount of testing may be limited to the machine used to develop the applet For a large organization, looking to support 100 000 users simultaneously, the testing might be exhaustive and include every platform which can support Java and would be extended to testing different levels of hardware under different operating systems However, the importance of a test strategy and the allocation of development time to address any problems which might arise is very important Badly tested code will break and the problems this causes will be linked to the value of the code and the reputation of the company 1283 Debugging code One of the tasks that developers often seem to forget is to remove debugging aids from code These aids may be print statements which display the value of a variable or progress reports which are issued as a method is called and executed Whatever they are they should be removed before the code is shipped Our approach is to include a method which is called by any method which wishes to write a debugging message When we ship code we simply disable the method This is a slightly inefficient way of handling the problem (since there will still be calls to the disabled method), but it is an effective solution to ensure that all debugging output is disabled 1284 Irritating behaviour Our final piece of advice is to ensure that the finished product doesn t do anything that will irritate the user such as playing long sounds that cannot be interrupted or embarking on complex animations which the user cannot stop Other examples might include streams of modal dialogs or selfish programming which affects other systems sharing the same resources (this is more the case with applets)
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The best way of determining the response your software will get from users is to test it out on those who are not involved with the development Ideally, you should select testers who will have the same level of technical expertise as the target user group It is too easy for developers to see software in similar terms and ignore the the fears, insecurity and lack of experience of users
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129 Summary
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You have now come to the end of the book and, we hope, are keen to develop some large Java applications or applets The book has taken you from programming concepts, via control structures and object concepts to some of the most important components of the Java library It has concluded by examining both applets and applications We hope that by the time you have finished this book you will be able to write substantial applications and applets given you are able to access the Java class libraries and their associated documentation The main aim of this book has been to equip you with a knowledge of all the concepts of Java something missing in current technical material We have left out quite a bit of detail because of this aim However, much of this detail can be currently found in the existing Sun documentation and will no doubt be found in the large amount of reference material that we know to be under development
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