Managing Module Dependencies in Large Systems

December 26, 2004 at 2:26 pm Leave a comment


In larger projects it is nearly impossible to avoid degeneration of large scale structures without tool support. It is far too easy to import missing packages with one key-stroke in modern IDEs like Eclipse or IDEA.

My experience is that almost every projectwith more than 500 classes has unwanted dependencies between its modules (module = coherent set of packages). Often even cycles between modules occur.

There are some Open-Source solutions that help to avoid unwanted dependencies in Java projects or at least discover them early:

  • Put every module in its own JAR file. An ANT build script can then discover unwanted depdencies during compilation and generation of the JAR files.
  • If Eclipse is used: Define an Eclipse project for every module and let Eclipse manage the dependencies.
  • The use of the Eclipse plugin model allows even finer control but brings some overhead with it.
  • Define the allowed dependencies in a Fitnesse test. There is an easy to use solution named JDependFixture. Especially when you use Fitnesse already the your project JDependFixture may be a convenient solution.
  • XRadar is also based on JDepend and checks dependencies between modules (in XRadar modules are called subsystems). XRadar uses a XML definition of modules and dependencies and creates a graphical representation of the existing dependencies. XRadar is especially convenient when a nightly build process is in place, for example based on Cruise-Control.

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Was bedeutet SAP? Slides of Talk: Refactorings in Large Projects

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