Re: Consolidating java objects

Robert Klemme <>
Mon, 16 Oct 2006 21:47:48 +0200
Dave wrote:

I have been a J2EE developer since Jan 2000, and have been on a number
of projects. However, with most of the projects we have been able to
keep the number of objects that can be used fairly small, to around 50
at the most and re-used or inherited from the core group of objects.

I am now on a project where the number of objects keeps growing with
each development release. It went from 250 to 277 objects in the last
release. There are so many objects that developers no longer look to
see if an object will work for them, they just create a new one from

Are you actually talking about objects? It seems more that you mean
"classes" instead.

Some objects are small, around 4-10 fields, others are much larger
(dozens of fields) and some inherit from other objects. I cannot come
up with a good way to find the similar objects so that the number can
be brought back under control. I also cannot come up with a good way
for developers to find objects that have what they need, since they
have spread the objects out from the initial framework package into
packages and modules all through the code. A way to compare objects
would also be very helpful.

What about documentation? Is there proper JavaDoc and package

The project is larger, around 15-25 developers at any time, but I am
tasked with figuring out a solution to this problem. I have tried a
spreadsheet, but it grows too big in a short time, and I can't see more
than 1-3 objects on the screen at once, when I need to be able to see
more of them. I also tried writing an XML document but it was too
hard. Javadoc generates too many files for this to be useful as well.

The question is what is the criteria for identifying similar classes?
If it is just methods or fields that seems pretty easy - even with
reflection. But if you are talking about semantics or want to compare
method behavior then you'll have a difficult task to do.

I have found several examples where the object wasn't needed and a
framework object could be used. I've also found cases where the object
simply extended another object and then didn't add any additional
fields. There have also been cases where the same set of fields show
up in object after object.

Does anyone have any ideas of tools or methodologies to use that could
help? I tried google and yahoo but didn't have any luck. Any ideas
would be greatly appreciated.

First of all 270 classes is not really much. You might be more
successful with a social solution instead of a technical one. For
example, you can improve communication by having developers present what
they developed so others know about. Or you install a process that must
be followed during creation of new classes and which might ensure people
find and use solutions done by others etc.

Kind regards


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