code generation : Java Glossary
©1996-2017 Roedy Green of Canadian Mind Products
- code generation
Automatically generating bubblegum computer code from tables,
XML (extensible Markup Language), etc. Not all repetition can be encapsulated in
methods. Code generation lets you generate any form of repetitive coding. Code
generation is similar to macros, but implies more processing of the specification
before generating code. Macros are a one-to-one translation usually embedded in
ordinary source code.
Code generators can crank out simple applications like hotcakes, however, in the
real world, applications are never completely straight forward. How do you handle the
logic beyond what the stomper can do?
- You extend the stomper. This implies the stomper is
code you maintain and extend as needed. It may start out as one-size-fits all but
quickly becomes specialised to your company’s problems. This is the approach
I use to generate all the ANT scripts for my
website. It is also the technique I use to generate all the HTML boilerplate. If you don’t have the
source code, or can’t understand the stomper code because it is poorly
documented or made of spaghetti, you cannot use this approach. In general, this
approach will be most satisfactory since you can tune it precisely to your needs,
and you can port your entire system to new platforms or even new languages. You
are not dependent on any other company to stay in business and keep maintaining
your tool. You understand your own code far better than you will ever understand
anyone else’s. It won’t have complicated features you don’t
need. Further, you save the bloated costs of general purpose report generators.
- The stomper provides a toy script language to write your extensions. I detest
this approach. Frequently the toy language is not capable of doing the work you
need to do. It is typically buggy and poorly documented. You now write code that
can’t be reused in any other context.
- The stomper provides stubs where you can write Java code that will be inserted.
The problem with this approach is you need an intimate knowledge of how the stomper
works to know what you can and cannot do in each stub. Further, if there is no stub
for the task you need, you are up the creek. It is difficult to arrange
communication between different stubs. You waste more time trying to fool the
stomper into generating the code you want than it saves.