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August 06, 2004

Your Money or Your Life?

I've been doing an overhaul of the AspectJ test suite this week as part of a sustained round of bug-fixing and enhancements being made by Andy Clement and myself. The AspectJ test suite is an incredibly valuable asset - without it, it would be nigh on impossible to put out a new release of AspectJ without inadvertently breaking some AspectJ programs out there in the wild. So valuable in fact, that it got me to thinking: if I had to choose between keeping the source code for the AspectJ test suite, or for the AspectJ compiler implementation - which one would I keep?

I've been going round and round on this question (obviously, both are vitally important, but still - which one?). If I keep the implementation, I could use a copy as a reference for any question I want to ask it - but finding out all the right questions to ask would be tough. If I keep the test suite, I'll have to rebuild a new implementation - but at least I'll know when I've got it right.

Believe it or not, my current leaning would be towards keeping the test suite. But give me five minutes, and maybe I'll change my mind again...

What would you choose for your project?

Posted by adrian at August 6, 2004 01:03 PM [permalink]


In this case, I would pick the test suite, almost without hesitation. (Assuming it's rich enough.) In re-writing the compiler, maybe some previous lessons learned could be followed and the overall design would be simpiler, making it easier going forward.

Developing a new compiler is expensive, but so is making a complete test suite. I suppose you could argue that the test suite can have a communal building (just wait until people file bugs, and there are your new tests) and the costs can be distributed that way, but I'd rather not let the good tests go by: there's more courage to make things better when you know you aren't messing things up. If you didn't have the tests, new development of the compiler would suffer.

Posted by: Macneil Shonle at August 6, 2004 10:10 PM

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