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Managed Chaos
Naresh Jain's Random Thoughts on Software Development and Adventure Sports
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Cobertura Gottachs

Today I spent a good 3 hours trouble shooting issues with code coverage on a legacy project. I’ve been using Cobertura for a good 3 years now. Hence I decided to use Cobertura to help a team working on a legacy project. What looked like a simple 10 mins job, ended up taking forever.

To start off, the team did not have an automated build. So I quickly put an Ant script together. Last 2 days I had helped them write some acceptance tests using FitNesse. I set up the build file to run the FitNesse tests as part of the build. Once I had the testing in place, I wanted to see what kind of code coverage we had. So we started adding Cobertura Ant tasks to the build. This was a fairly trivial task. But surprisingly cobertura-report kept displaying N/A for Line and Branch coverage. Clearly there was something wrong.

After spending a good amount of time, I realized that we need to compile the source code with debug=true option, else Cobertura does not generate any coverage numbers. What’s amazing is, it does not complain (in the normal mode) about this nor does cobertura’s documentation talks about this. When I ran the ant build in verbose mode, it showed the following warning

[cobertura-instrument] WARN visitEnd, No line number information found for class

That’s when it occurred to me that I need to compile my source code with debug=true option.

Once I solved this problem I hit the next roadblock. Even thought I fixed the debug=true option issue, cobertura-report was still displaying N/A for Line and Branch coverage. I quickly wrote a dummy unit tests and that seemed to work. Cobertura report started showing some numbers. But I was not able to generate any coverage numbers from the main Java application (server) that I was trying to test.

I knew there was some problem with the Shutdown hook not been executed correctly to flush the coverage numbers to the ser file. It turned out that if you have a server which is started as a daemon process in a forked JVM in the build, it needs to have a way to shutdown the server gracefully. So I ended up writing a shutdown command for the server which would basically do a System.exit(0). One need to explicitly call the shutdown script before calling the cobertura report target.

Finally after 3 hrs, there was some ray of hope in my life when I saw a good 86% code coverage. This meant I could now go and refactor the code till I dropped dead.

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