Being a professional software engineer

As we live through the Digital Revolution I see software development in a similar place, professionally, as mechanical engineering was at the turn of the last century. My hope is that soon we will see software engineering attaining the same status as other engineering disciplines so that we can deliver software as respected professionals, but first that will require us to act more professionally.

The way we get such a status will undoubtedly be incrementally and though many iterations – that’s as much what engineering is about as the practical application of learning – but I believe for many software developers the next iteration should be to bring professionalism to their industry.

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Unit Test Patterns: The Domain Test Values Class

On my latest Java project, my colleagues and I are keen to improve the readability of test classes. We’ve chosen to use Mockito and Hamcrest because of their natural language approach to mocking and assertions, but on their own they can’t always convey the meaning of values used in a test.

To overcome this, we use a pattern which I’ll call the “Domain Test Values Class”,  the purpose of which is to provide values used in the testing of a domain in a way which improves understanding of test code by increasing readability and adding meaning to values.

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Redirecting to .com (without confusing CloudFoundry…)

It’s a two-for-one today – a “gotcha” and a “how to” all rolled into one, this time about redirecting in a Grails filter.

Much like my favicon woes my initial attempt to redirect to a primary domain (a .com without the “www” prefix) had some unexpected consequences when deployed to a live server on CloudFoundry – I started getting warnings that my site had gone down!

In this post I’ll hopefully save you the panic of CloudFoundry telling you that your site’s not responding when you try to rationalise your domain names!

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When localhost is not the same as a MySQL Connection Gotcha

Setting up MySQL connection pooling has been standard stuff in server-side apps for as long as I’ve been writing them, so I was at a loss when, every 5 days or so, my newly deployed app died with this exception:

Exception in thread "main" 
Communications link failure

Last packet sent to the server was 0 ms ago.

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Spring Secutiry (ACEGI) Plugin and Favicon Permissions

Here’s a quick gotcha for you. You set up a favicon in the root of your web app, as is the convention, and when you log in you are redirected to a picture of your favicon or you are asked to download it… Weird.

Odds on you’ve installed the Spring Security plugin and forgotten to give permission to the favicon file in the root and the result is that on login Spring Security redirects you to the first restricted item that was requested by the browser – the favicon.

The solution? Easy, set the favicon path to IS_AUTHENTICATED_ANONYMOUSLY in your SecurityConfig.groovy (or database):

controllerAnnotationStaticRules = [
    '/favicon.ico' : ['IS_AUTHENTICATED_ANONYMOUSLY'],