Friday, August 29, 2008

Reflection in Ruby

I've recently gotten started going on a Ruby on Rails project for my company, that's meant to be a simple app that we'll throw up and let run for any prospective customers. But I ran into a problem with copying property values between objects, since I'm not as familiar with the language as I'd like to be. The Object type defines a method called 'send' which lets you invoke a method with given arguments. However, I wanted to be able to assign property values via this method, and just sending the name of the property as the name of the method to invoke wasn't working. (Works just fine if you want to get the property). As it turns out, the method for invoking the setter of a property is brain-dead simple : use the name of the method as you'd define it if you were overriding the setter for the property. For example, if you have a property called 'name', you'd define the setter for it as follows :

def name= (name)
@name = name

So if you wanted to set the value of this property reflectively, you'd do something like :

@person_instance.send "name=", "John Smith"

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A moment of developer clarity and zen

I had a moment today where I was just letting my mind wander. It was one of those moments where you have a brilliant idea that just seems so common sense that you can only ask yourself "Why the hell didn't I think of that before ?" This moment of clarity happened to be concerning my horribly slow laptop, with it's horribly old ATA 100, 5400 rpm hard drive. Then it occurred to me : just like with video encoding that I had setup months ago, I could setup a RAM disk to speed up Eclipse by storing my workspace on the RAM disk to speed up access to all the (ridiculous number of) temp files that Eclipse uses. On Ubuntu Linux, it turns out this was ridiculously easy :

The really amazing part was just how much this sped things up : it took my project build time from 6 mins, 30 seconds down to 35 seconds. And those are real numbers (plus or minus a couple seconds, due to slight variations in repeated builds.)

Monday, August 11, 2008

More JAXB quirks

Today I ran across yet more quirks of JAXB 2.0. I'm getting really tired of running across stupid errors that are difficult to debug because the programmers who wrote JAXB are lazy. Today, I was receiving a java.lang.InternalError when I tried to compile a schema from beans I'd recently refactored. The error I received was something along the lines of "could not escape schema namespace". As it turns out, it was caused by the lack of an @XmlType annotation on the enums I had added to one of my XML serializable beans. I hope this helps anybody who has the same problem.