Posts tagged “Java“

RxJava — The worst of all worlds

2017-08-31 in java

RxJava, short for “Reactive Java“, the Java implementation of the “ReactiveX” specification, is sometimes used to facilitate asynchronous or concurrent programming in Java, particularly in code from Netflix, its original implementor. It enjoys some popularity in the realm of server backend programming, and there appears to be surprisingly little criticism of it.

“ReactiveX” is an extension of the observer pattern and perhaps works well in realms where that pattern is actually used, such as GUIs. But nobody in their right mind writes GUIs in Java anymore outside a single mobile platform. RxJava is instead purported to instead be a solution to asynchronous tasks on the server, something for which the observer model is an extremely poor fit.

RxJava appears to draw people in on the basis of pretty diagrams that make it look easy to work with and vacuous conceptions of universality. In reality, outside of a very, very narrow space where it fits well, it brings far more harm than good.

Java Anti-Pattern: Inconvenient Public Variables

2017-07-01 in java anti-patterns
The worst of both worlds

Encapsulation, in one form or another, is nearly universal in large-scale programming across languages. Isolating the code which can access certain state or data makes it easier to maintain and easier to reason about what impact changes to that state could have. In object-oriented languages, the unit of encapsulation is the class, and encapsulation is accomplished by making instance variables private and exposing a set of well-defined operations on that state in the public API.

JavaBean properties (a.k.a. “bean properties” or simply “getters and setters”) arose when the point about making instance variables private was applied universally without paying attention to the “well-defined operations” point.

Bean properties, particularly within an internal code-base or narrowly deployed library, are nothing more than inconvenient public variables.

The Generations of Java Style

2017-03-13 in java rambling

In the two decades of its existence, the Java programming language has gone through quite a few changes. Even more so, however, have the overall approaches to design and architecture in the Java ecosystem. I have found that these can by and large be separated into four generations which typically cut over relatively abruptly, immediately giving large code-bases of prior generations an archaic and poorly-designed feel.

“Groovy Strings” are here to make puns and cause chaos

2014-07-10 in groovy grails java
And their only pun is horrible.

Mundane Java has two types of character-type literals: character literals, enclosed in single-quotes, and string literals, enclosed in double-quotes.

1 /* Character literal, enclosed in single-quotes */
2 char ch = 'c';
3 /* String literal, enclosed in double-quotes */
4 String s = "This is a string.";

One of the first things not backwards-compatible with Java that a new Groovy user may notice is that single-quotes now delimit strings as well.

Groovy method calls involve lock contention

2014-01-26 in groovy java
A fractal of bad implementation

Suppose that we have a stateless but computationally-intensive piece of code involving a lot of function calls, which is for some reason written in Groovy.


1 package gl.lin
3 class SlowFib {
4   static int fib(int n) {
5     n <= 1? n : fib(n-1) + fib(n-2)
6   }
7 }

Obviously, the algorithm here is pretty much the worst one possible — it has exponential run-time, but calculating the Fibonacci sequence can be calculated in linear time. But imagine for the time being that this is real code. The important thing is that this code makes lots of function calls. Also important is how the function is stateless — it accesses no data outside of its locals, and is non-virtual due to its staticness (ie, it could be called with one instruction were this native code).

Now say we want to write a program that maps a sequence of input integers to the corresponding Fibonacci number. A simple single-threaded implementation is below.

Groovy's idea of “private” rivals the NSA's

2014-01-05 in groovy java
A fractal of bad implementation

The private access modifier is arguably the most important in the context of software engineering in Java, and more so in Groovy where everything is public (sort of) by default. By declaring something private, the programmer can be certain that no code outside the current lexical scope can see the member; thus, there will never be any external dependencies on its presence or behaviour, allowing it to be easily changed or removed without widespread consequences. Of course, it could be expected of Groovy to merely parse and discard the private keyword, substituting it with the “implicit-public” access modifier instead. Fortunately, it doesn’t do that.

It does something much worse.

“Groovy cast” tries too hard

2013-12-22 in groovy java
With sufficient force, any peg will fit through any hole.

Groovy has an entire three different types of type-casts that can occur. The first two are inherited from Java, albeit with substantially more permissive semantics.

Groovy: Public Variables Aren't

2013-12-15 in groovy java
Not my favourite programming language

One of the most obvious ways with which Groovy tries to “reduce” boiler-plate is to make all members (both variables and methods) of any class public by default, as opposed to Java in which members are package-private by default. While this is already a questionable design decision at best, an interesting facet of the implementation is that implicitly public member variables are private, though another Groovy feature masks this detail when operating within Groovy.

We’ll start with a Groovy class that just has some members of varying types and access modifiers. You can compile these files yourself by dropping them into the base project.

Groovy Named Arguments are not Arguments

2013-12-08 in groovy java
A fractal of bad implementation

In the past two weeks, we’ve looked at how horribly Groovy handles something as simple as function call arguments. There is yet one more horror Groovy brings to the table: its conception of named arguments.

Named arguments (also known as “keyword arguments”, or just “kwargs”, in some contexts) allow the programmer to specify arguments to a function by name, rather than by position, enhancing readability and in many cases writability, as the meaning of each argument is clarified at use site. It also has the advantage of allowing some arguments to be specified without specifying the preceding ones, in the case of arguments which also have defaults. Examples of languages which support this concept are Python and OCaml.

Groovy Optional Arguments are Unusable

2013-12-01 in groovy java
A fractal of bad implementation

As mentioned last week, one of the main reasons Java has method overloading was to emulate optional arguments, albeit verbosely. In the below example, our multiple definitions of doSomething allow it to be called with any prefix of its argument list, the other parameters “defaulting” to something that the implementor considered reasonable.