The Java Source

OpenJDK Development Best Practices

October 17, 2011 By: Janice Heiss

At JavaOne 2011, Oracle Principal Member of Technical Staff, Kelly O’Hair, had a session on “OpenJDK Development Best Practices” that offered a lot of useful practical advice. He discussed current OpenJDK development procedures such as building, testing, code review, and creating a changeset, and integrating that changeset into a team repository. In addition he covered "OpenJDK Developers' Guide" topics and looked at the challenges of integrating a change.

So what are the best practices when working on the JDK?
● When in doubt, ask
● When something does not work, report it
● Always be careful, rushing in changes is dangerous
● Do no harm, have a backup or backout plan
● Stay calm, nervous people make mistakes
● Be prepared for anything, because it will happen

When editing sources:
● Never edit the legal notices
● Respect the existing formatting
● Small surgical changes are best, easiest to review
● Well written comments are critical
● Do not assume anything about the compilers

Testcases are critical and not optional:
● Create a new one or modify an existing testcase
● Must be solid and work on all supported systems
● Must not be a resource hog (open 20,000 files)
● Must work in a shared VM mode (like a JUnit test)
● Assume someone else might be running the same test at the same time, and that someone might be you
● Continuous Build & Test
● Test gates or baseline testing
● But before you even get started making changes you must be able to completely build it and test it on your own system, this is a fundamental
● Linux builds are the easiest, so let's see what needs to happen

He suggested best practices short cuts for building:
● Always use local disk space
● Use /tmp if it has the space
● Use export NO_DOCS=true to avoid running javadoc
● Use ALT_JDK_IMPORT_PATH=${HOME}/jdk1.8.0

Kelly offered detailed principles related to testing, testing prep, editing, code review, changeset creation, why a push fails, and the team repository model.

His core ideas:
● Pick your environment, Linux is easiest
● Pick a stable state of repos, promoted build, oldest best
● Learn to build and test it, over and over, know what to expect, create a jdk to use as your import
● Editing working set files, read the Mercurial book
● Problemlist, changeset creation

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