Coding and Commit Guidelines



  1. Make sure that both “Author” and “Committer” conform to the format:

    John Doe <>

    The following formats are not allowed: “johnd <john.doe@…>” or “johnny <john.doe@…>” or “John <john.doe@…>”

  2. Make sure you commit files with Unix line endings. Refer to the Git manual for more information.

Commit message

  1. Follow the general rule of how Git commit messages are formatted. Refer to the Git manual for more information. In particular, every patch must have an informative short summary or “subject line” (also see next point in the list) and it should have a more detailed explanation below.
  2. In addition, use one of the following type tags in the subject line to make it easier for people to understand what your commit was about:
Tag Includes Description
[NOP]   This commit did not have any effect and only concerns whitespace, removing unused methods, fixing documentation typos, etc.
[TASK] [NOP] Adds things that need to be done.
[DOC] [TASK] Improves JavaDocs or comments.
[INTERNAL] [DOC] Only affects the details of the implementation without any effects to users of the component.
[API] [INTERNAL] Affects the interface or dependencies of a component without creating any new functionality or fixing an existing bug.
[REFACTOR]   API or INTERNAL changes, which are done using automated tool support. So while REFACTOR changes usually result in large diffs, they are not very error prone. Caution: A refactoring should always be a separate patch, because refactorings are very hard to read.
([FIX] | [FIX] #bug id) [INTERNAL] Fixes a bug. If existing, please attach the SourceForge bug tracker ID.
([FEATURE]|[FEATURE] #feature id) [INTERNAL] Improves the functionality of the software. If existing, please attach the SourceForge feature tracker ID.
[LOG] [DOC] Improves Logging with Log4j.
[UI] [INTERNAL] Improvements to the user interface.
([JUNIT]|[STF]) [INTERNAL] Improves testing – either JUnit tests or STF tests.
[BUILD] [TASK] Changes the way how the sources are compiled or distributed, e.g. changes to build scripts, MANIFEST files, or update sites.

The following scope tags can (and should) be used in addition to make it easier to track what part of Saros your commit is changing.

Tag Description
[E] This commit ONLY affects the Eclipse version of Saros
[I] IntelliJ version of Saros
[S] Saros Server
[CORE] Saros core

Example usage: [INTERNAL][I] = Only affects the details of the implementation in IntelliJ. If you can’t decide on a single type tag, you probably mixed up different concerns and should consider splitting your patch.

Coding rules


We expect source code to be formatted and cleaned up using an automated tool prior to submission. The formatting is also checked by the CI server and will fail if a commit does not comply with the formatting rules. See the development environment documentation for more information.

Naming Conventions

We use the conventions defined in Java TM Programming Language, Chapter 9.

The only differences and additional conventions are:

  • Non-Listener interfaces should be preceded by an I.</br> e.g. IProject, IPreferenceStore
  • Listener interfaces should use the name of their corresponding class and add Listener to it.</br> e.g. MouseListener
  • All test case classes must end with Test.</br> e.g HelloWorldTest
  • A test suite classes must contain TestSuite.</br>
  • Every test class that is used for White-Box testing must be declared in the same package.</br> e.g. ->
  • STF test cases must be put in any subpackage of de.fu_berlin.inf.dpp.stf.test.</br> e.g de.fu_berlin.inf.dpp.stf.test.account.AccountPreferencePageTest


Getters and Setters

  • Use getters and setters by default except for very good reason
  • Internal Local Entity Classes do not need (but may) use getters/setters
  • Internal collections may be returned from classes, but it MUST be clearly indicated whether the returned value MUST not be changed (then an immutable view should be returned) or whether a user of a class MAY change the collection (in which case the class must ensure that the behavior is well defined, for instance using an observable collection)

Class member visibility

By default all fields and methods should be private. For any field or method with a visibility higher than private (visible from the outside) there MUST be a detailed JavaDoc explanation. Thus, especially making something public should be a deliberate and conscious act.

To facilitate testing, you may be tempted to make members more accessible. This is fine up to package-private (no modifier). But it is not acceptable to make a member part of a package’s API (protected or public) solely for testing purposes.

Final members and variables

  • For class variables: By default, make them final, unless you find a good reason not to. It makes the code easier to understand when you know where changes are expected to happen.
  • For local variables and parameters: In principle, the same rule applies as for class variables. But since local variables and parameters have a limited scope, the additional information gained through the presence of a final modifer is not tremendous. Therefore, we tend to not use the final keyword here.
  • For methods: By default, don’t make them final, unless you have good reason not to. After all, we want to use object-oriented programming.

Classes and Interfaces

  • Take your time, look at the environment of your code and think. When it comes to the establishment of classes and interfaces, there is a lot of mistakes to make that work against the designed architecture and make solving problems afterwards very expensive.
  • Components must implement an interface if they access external resources. Implementing an interface to combine things to reusable units is always a good idea, but before doing so make sure that there is no such similar implementation in place already and how the newly created one would fit into the architecture.
  • If you develop a listener interface with more than one method, you should in most cases provide an abstract base implementation which provides empty implementations, because in many cases implementors of your interface will not want to implement all methods. Also it helps to improve ability to change the program, as methods can be added to the interface more easily.
  • Do not implement more than one listener interface per class, especially if using a top level class, because it makes the code much less readable and makes you more likely to forget unregistering your listener.
    • Anonymous inner-classes assigned to fields are much better:

Instead of:

public class A implements B, C, D {

you should write:

public class A implements D {

  B b = new B(){

  C c = new C(){


Control flow

Test whether you can return from a method instead of testing whether you should execute a block of code.

Instead of:

    public void foo(){
      //some code

      if (condition){
        // long block of code

you should write:

    public void foo(){
      //some code

      if (!condition)

      // long block of code

Furthermore, there is no need to put the code after the return statement into an explicit “else”-branch. You can easily save one level of block-nesting.

Checking parameters

  • Methods may assume that they are called with correct non-null input unless the method specifies that it allows incorrect or null input.
  • If a parameter may be null or is checked add a @param-JavaDoc that indicates this.
         * Get positions of slashes in the filename.
         * @param filename may be null
         * @return Null-based indices into the string
                   pointing to the slash positions.

        public int[] findAllSlashes(String filename) {
          if (filename == null)
            return new int[];
  • If a method checks for correct parameters it should throw an IllegalArgumentException in case of error.
    • It is recommended to perform checking in particular at important component boundaries. For instance, we had a central entry point were events were buffered for sending over the network. Somehow a null event was inserted into the buffer queue and caused a NullPointerException later on. The programmer of the method which inserted the event into the buffer should have checked at this important boundary with many callers.
  • Use assert to check for complex preconditions, that cost a lot during runtime.