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This chapter is from the book

Deliverables

When Sun mentions deliverables, it is referring to the actual files you must submit with your project, described in the following list:

  • Full source and object code, including new classes, modified versions of supplied classes, and copies of supplied classes that were not modified. The source files and class files should be in an appropriate directory structure along with the class files. You can use JAR files to contain groups of elements of your project as you deem appropriate—for example, elements needed to support the running of your programs.

  • The database.bin database file, which is the same one supplied with the assignment download.

  • Full documentation, including the following:

    • You must provide HTML/javadoc documentation for all classes, whether supplied, modified, or new. Make sure you comment your code thoroughly, and then this documentation is easy to generate.

    • You must provide user documentation for the database server and the GUI client. Most people provide the GUI documentation as a Web page. It can be packaged with your project or available online (be sure to provide the correct URL).

    • You must provide a README.TXT file that tells the evaluator how to use your application. This file must be in the root directory of your project.

    • You must provide a document called DESIGN_CHOICES.TXT that explains how you tackled the assignment's two major issues. You need to convince the evaluator that you know what you are doing, not that your approach is the best one. The two major design choices are whether you chose RMI or Serialized objects, and whether you chose to modify or extending the supplied Data class.

  • All your project elements must be packaged into a single JAR file for submission. Nesting JAR files inside the main JAR is permitted.

CAUTION

The README.TXT file must be in plain ASCII format. I recommend providing the DESIGN_CHOICES.TXT file in ASCII format also, although the evaluator will accept it in Microsoft Word format.

Your entire project must be uploaded as one JAR file. Don't try any other method of packaging your project, or the evaluator might fail you for not following this simple instruction. Evaluators aren't amused if they receive projects requiring them to unzip, untar, unlock, decrypt, or unravel your submitted ball of files.

Source Code Files

The biggest part of your grade is the source code. The first thing the evaluator does is read the README.TXT file to figure out how to test the application to make sure it works. If it doesn't work or those instructions cause a mistake, you automatically fail the assignment. The evaluator then reads your DESIGN_CHOICES.TXT document to learn how you designed the application and reads through your code.

Your project submission has to include all the class files so that the application runs, but it must also include all the source files used in your application's final build. This includes the Sun-supplied files (if you modified a class file, include the modified version) and the ones you added. Although the evaluator won't actually build your application from the source code, he should be able to. If you modified one of Sun's supplied files, don't include both the original and the modified file; just include the modified one.

The directory structure is another source of confusion. I've seen mostly simple and reasonable structures, but also some unnecessarily complicated ones. My project submission had only four directories (suncerity.client, suncerity.server, suncerity.db, and javadoc), but your directory structure is determined by how you package the classes. Don't be ingenious; just be practical. If you need more than four directories, it could raise a red flag for the evaluator. It might indicate that you can't organize your classes and perhaps your solution is overengineered. There is no magic number of directories, but if you have more than four, I recommend rethinking the structure so that it is more compact.

The database.bin Database File

Sun supplies a binary database file named database.bin that you must return with the rest of your project submission. You can place this file anywhere you like, as long as the application can find it. I recommend placing it in the root directory to make the file access code simpler. If you put the database.bin file somewhere else, just make sure the pathing parameters to the file access code are right: Use / for Unix and let the software take care of translating to a backslash on Windows. My application determined the delimiter at runtime, so the delimiter character didn't matter in my case. Whatever your approach, just be sure you don't make the mistake of writing code that can find the file in one place on your system, but can't find the same file on the evaluator's machine because you packaged it differently.

Documentation

Four documentation pieces should be in the JAR file: the README.TXT file, the DESIGN_CHOICES.TXT document, the full javadoc set, and a user help Web page. In your javadoc documentation, be sure to use the special comment tags—starting with /** and ending with */—in your source code so that the javadoc program can process the code to produce HTML-formatted documentation. Creating javadoc comments is part of the assignment, so make sure you use regular javadoc conventions.

Javadoc

Depending on your design, the number of files javadoc generates vary. In my case, I had 100 javadoc files. If your application is clean, you should have about 10 source files. Certainly, you can add lots of functionality, resulting in 20 source files and several hundred javadoc files. However, you will lose points with this approach. Instead, strive to design an elegant and clean application that meets the requirements. Be warned: Adding functionality that doesn't satisfy a specific requirement is inviting trouble. Doing so raises questions about your ability to follow simple instructions, and the extra functionality could introduce errors that cost you points.

User Help

Another document you need to supply is the user help file, which should be a Web page. You can include it in the JAR file or simply hard-code the URL in the client to the Web page hosted somewhere else on the Internet; there are merits to both methods. The local file is faster and just as easy to include as it is to include the README.TXT file. The online reference method means there is one fewer file to include in the JAR file. You can assume that the evaluator has access to the Internet.

NOTE

The user help document should be a Web page. It can be included in your project submission or hosted on a Web site, in which case the client should be able to view it from a menu.

CAUTION

Neglecting to provide user help costs points that are so easy to earn. Also, don't rely on users viewing help with their favorite browsers. You should provide a window (for example, a JTextPane in a JScrollPane) for it.

README and DESIGN_CHOICES

As mentioned in Chapter 1, "Certification Steps and Submission Grading," you must create a README.TXT file and a DESIGN_CHOICES.TXT document. Chapter 5, "Documentation and Javadoc Comments," provides a thorough explanation and an example of both files.

Deprecated Classes and Other Items

In the transition from Java 1 to the current SDK 1.4, the libraries have changed. In some cases, the signatures remained the same, but in other cases, they have changed. These revisions to the standard library resulted in some classes, variables, and methods becoming outdated. Sun keeps these outdated items in the library to support older programs, but refers to them as deprecated. Deprecated methods should not be used in new code, but Sun did sneak a few into the assignment intentionally to see what you would do about them. They aren't hard to fix, and every time you compile the classes they are in, you see the deprecated message. Also, the javadoc API documentation provides a convenient listing of deprecated items and marks them in the class documentation.

You can modify these deprecated methods or override them in a subclass. I chose the latter approach and justified it in the DESIGN_CHOICES.TXT document by arguing that the legacy code would still work in previous uses, and the new subclass isolates the changes for better maintenance going forward. Either approach is fine, but you have to justify your choice.

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