Posts Tagged ‘IntelliJ’

Windows 7, IntelliJ 9.0.*, and the Scala plugin

August 5, 2010 Comments off

About a week ago I started having problems running tests in IntelliJ 9.0.1. I didn’t have many plugins installed, in fact, I only had one installed, the Scala plugin from JetBrains. After an update to the plugin and IntelliJ (to 9.0.2) whenever I would run tests the project failed to make, generating 100+ errors and 16 warnings. I contacted our helpdesk team, who installed 9.0.3 Ultimate Edition and still encountered the same errors. After a few hours trying to find the problem myself, I sought help from JetBrains.

As it turns out, I’m not the only person to experience this problem, and according to JetBrains the fix will require a patch for IntelliJ or the plugin itself; however during my¬†correspondence¬†with JetBrains, I found a fix myself.

First, go to and download the latest version of Scala. Extract it, it doesn’t matter where you extract it to, because all you need is to have it somewhere on your computer.

In IntelliJ, click the Project Structure icon and select Facets under Project Settings. Click the “+” to expand the Scala Facet, and click to select Scala (importer). Check the box labeled “Use Scala compiler libraries from specified jars” and update the fields to resemble mine in the screenshot below.

Apply the changes, and you should be good to go.

By Chris Powell


Easy Java toString() methods using Apache commons-lang ToStringBuilder

May 21, 2010 2 comments

One of the disciplines I try to have while developing Java code is always overriding the default toString, equals, and hashCode methods. I have found that most of the modern IDE’s have a way to generate these methods. My IDE of choice, IntelliJ IDEA, does have this functionality but I find it’s implementations to be sub par. Here is an example of an IntelliJ generated toString method for a class…

public String toString() {
    return "Person{" +
        "name=" + name +
        ", age=" + age +

My biggest problems with this implementation are:

  1. Hard-coded, static strings for class and field names makes the amazing refactoring features of IntelliJ less reliable.
  2. Not using StringBuilder makes this code harder to read and slightly more resource intensive.
  3. Only fields of this class can be used; all inherited fields, even protected ones, are not included.

This was just not good enough. I started to investigate if anyone had written some kind of library which could reflectively look at an Object and produce a complete (private and inherited fields included) and consistent toString representation. Sure enough, I discovered that one of the Apache Commons libraries provided exactly this functionality. The commons-lang project has a class called ToStringBuilder which has a static method on it that uses reflection to generate a string which contains a all of a classes fields. The string’s format is consistent and can be controlled by the ToStringStyle class which has several useful formats built-in and also lets to implement your own. You can now write any object’s toString method as follows:

public String toString() {
    return ToStringBuilder.reflectionToString(this);

If you are using maven as your project management tool, you can add the following dependency into your pom.xml file in order to be able to use the commons-lang library in your project.


Normally I would try to avoid reflection in production code when possible due to it’s reported slower performance, however I find the only time I am actually using toString methods is usually in debugging or testing where speed is not my number one concern. If you don’t feel reflection is a good solution for you, the ToStringBuilder class does have several instance methods which follow the traditional ‘builder’ pattern which allows you to manually choose the fields which will be included in the string representation of your object. Here is example of that usage pattern:

public String toString() {
    return new ToStringBuilder(this).
        append("name", name).
        append("age", age).
        append("smoker", smoker).

This usage does have some of the same problems as the original implementation like it requires the field identifiers to be static strings. This does however allow you to ensure a consistent format of the resulting string and it also has the ability to include the any super classes’ toString result using the appendSuper() method.

If you are using Eclipse or NetBeans, I understand there are very good plugins which can build very good toString representations but this functionality is unfortunately not enough for me to give up the refactoring support IntelliJ provides. The above solution would also help though if you have some developers on a team using different IDE; using a library to toString representations is better than IDE dependent tools since it maintains consistency between environments.

The ToStringBuilder class is just one of many useful utility classes provided by the commons-lang library and the commons-lang library is just one of the useful libraries provided by the Apache Commons project. Make sure to check it out anytime you find yourself writing some code and asking yourself “Hasn’t someone done this already?”

Test Driven Development with a Widescreen Monitor

December 9, 2009 Comments off

My Point2 workstation recently received a monitor upgrade; the old pair had had served me faithfully for many years, but they were worn out. So I am now the proud user of a pair of shiny new widescreen monitors.

The new monitors are much nicer than the previous monitors, and they are also a much higher resolution (1920 x 1080 vs 960 x 1280). Using them is a very enjoyable experience, but at first it seemed like the widescreen aspect ratio was wasting a lot of horizontal space:

Before: my widescreen monitor with a single file open

Before: my widescreen monitor with a single file open

Then a few days ago, in the middle of a pairing session, I discovered IntelliJ’s split screen feature. In my opinion, the combination of a wide screen monitor and split screen is a killer feature for TDD. If you assign your test code in one pane, and your production code to another pane, you can see your test and production code at the same time:

After: my widescreen with two files open simultaneously

To activate split screen choose “Split Vertically” from the Window menu, or right click on a document tab and choose “Split Vertically”.

IntelliJ works very nicely with this split screen configuration; intentions, “Go To Declaration”, and refactoring shortcuts jump nicely to the appropriate screen. Being able to read test and production code at the same time without clicking a button is especially valuable when pairing, as each half of the pair can be reading a different file. One important caveat: this only works correctly if each file is only open in one pane, and IntelliJ doesn’t enforce that for you.

Some of you might wonder what the second monitor is used for, and the answer is pair programming. We pair program all the time at Point2, so I run the two monitors as mirrors. I’ve also added an extra keyboard and mouse, and the combination allows each member of the pair to see exactly what’s going without craning their necks or stretching. It’s a really nice feature for a pairing station.

My "Pairing Station" - a pair friendly workstation

My pair-friendly workstation. My keyboard and trackball are on the left, and the developer pairing with me has their own keyboard, mouse, and monitor on the right. Either of us can drive without any inconvenience.

By: Sean Reilly