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jFactor Speeds Code-Improvement Process


Instantiations' refactoring tool helps meet enterprise standards


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March 1, 2001 —  Want to know where developers need help? Why not ask them? That's what IBM did when it assembled a feature-request database for its VisualAge for Java customers. And when Instantiations Inc. looked through that database, one word stood out: refactoring. Their response: jFactor.

"Refactoring was among the top three requests of more than 650 submitted by developers to the database," said Mark Johnson, Instantiations' vice president of marketing and business development. "We looked at it as an opportunity, because our business is predicated on augmenting or building supplements to base software tools from OEMs."

Instantiations built jFactor to offer developers "a disciplined way to clean up their code for better maintainability, reliability and reusability without changing the behavior of the existing software program," Johnson said, adding that the impetus for jFactor was to improve the code design after the program was written.

"Developers aren't normally thinking about reuse or proper design when they are in the editor writing down their ideas of how to make a program function," Johnson said. Refactoring, or incrementally improving functional code, comes into play only after programmers have written and tested the code and determine if its structure is reliable, maintainable and reusable.

Johnson said jFactor (www.instantiations.com/jfactor) includes four categories for strengthening code structures: method refactorings, field refactorings, class refactorings and package refactorings. Within each of the categories are more specific techniques, he said. For example, one extract method permits the developer to take a code fragment from a chunk of code, move it into a new chunk and then create a call from the old chunk into the fragment in the new chunk of code.

He said that developers using the automated tools could cut refactoring and code improvement down to about 15 minutes from literally hours, helping to more easily and efficiently comply with corporate standards and naming conventions. "Otherwise," he said, "developers would have to follow a sequence of refactoring manually, discouraging them from doing it at all."

He added that the refactoring tool would also help managers accelerate products to market because it takes less time to refactor code.

Instantiations also released Version 2.0 of Visual Age Assist Enterprise/J for Visual Age for Java (www.instantiations.com/assist), which is claimed to offer enhancements in source code editing, method bookmarking, intrarepository broadcast messaging and global task automation.

jFactor for Visual Age for Java and Visual Age Assist Enterprise/J for Visual Age for Java are each $895, and are available immediately.





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