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Java Source Code Beautifier


This essay does not describe an existing computer program, just one that should exist. This essay is about a suggested student project in Java programming. This essay gives a rough overview of how it might work. I have no source, object, specifications, file layouts or anything else useful to implementing this project. Everything I have prepared to help you is right here.

This project outline is not like the artificial, tidy little problems you are spoon-fed in school, when all the facts you need are included, nothing extraneous is mentioned, the answer is fully specified, along with hints to nudge you toward a single expected canonical solution. This project is much more like the real world of messy problems where it is up to you to fully the define the end point, or a series of ever more difficult versions of this project and research the information yourself to solve them.

Everything I have to say to help you with this project is written below. I am not prepared to help you implement it; or give you any additional materials. I have too many other projects of my own.

Though I am a programmer by profession, I don’t do people’s homework for them. That just robs them of an education.

You have my full permission to implement this project in any way you please and to keep all the profits from your endeavour.

Please do not email me about this project without reading the disclaimer above.

Oracle’s Technetwork coding conventions

This tides Java source code to the Oracle specification. It need not be a generic totally-configurable program. Just go for the Oracle standard. The one possible exception would be allow you to turn off K&R brace formatting and use the traditional format where braces align. A parser such as JavaCC or ANTLR (Another Tool for Language Recognition) might be useful. See parser in the Java & Internet Glossary.

You might do some additional tidyings:

The problem is the added comments are bulky. A better solution is a SCID that lets you hop to the next whatever you want to see and visually highlight important features of the language without using a lot of precious screen real estate.

You might tackle just a small subset of the problem, e.g. converting braces between same-line K&E style and line-by-themselves style. After you succeed, you might add another feature, then another.

See parser for tools to help you analyse the source. Ideally this tool would be integrated with a CVS (Concurrent Versions System) front end to automatically beautify any source before it went into the repository. You have to be careful with reordering though. Code must be retested after a reordering since reordering can break static init code.

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