Friday, December 11, 2015

The Benefits of Building on Multiple Platforms

Organizational policy at a client of mine recently saw me switching my development setup from an Ubuntu Linux based machine to Windows 7 Enterprise. Before this switch everything was Linux based: development was done in Linux, continuous integration ran on Linux, and we were ultimately also deploying to Linux, albeit another distribution.

Making the switch to Windows unearthed a few subtle coding errors, mainly related to resource management. It's no secret Windows is a lot stricter when it comes to file manipulation. For instance, consider the following:

File f = new File("test.tmp");
try (FileOutputStream fout = new FileOutputStream(f)) {
 Files.move(f.toPath(), new File("test.txt").toPath());
Using Java 8, this runs fine on Linux. However, on Windows you get an error:
java.nio.file.FileSystemException: test.tmp -> test.txt: The process cannot access the file because it is being used by another process.
Looking at the code again you can see that the file is being moved inside the try-with-resources block. In other words, we're attempting to move the file before we've closed the output stream!

In general I would advise different developers in your development team to use different platforms. That will highlight these kind of subtle errors early and will generally improve the quality of your system. It of course comes as little surprise that Juergen Hoeller (of Spring fame) told me on several occasions that he's still developing on Windows for exactly this reason! :-)

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