Trends in Build Metrics

I’ve been upgrading the Ant Script Library with a number of new code inspection reports, including FindBugs, Checkstyle and PMD Copy Paste Detection; this is on top of the existing PMD Analysis, Cobertura and JDepend reports. (Note that these updates have not yet been released). I was thinking about adding in Panopticode, too. I love the heatmap display, but I noticed that the project appears to be abandoned at the moment, without any updates for over 2 years. Perhaps I still will later on.

All the above reports give a great way to view the state of the code at a given time. One thing missing from those is trends over time. Trend information can help give you an idea of how a system is improving (or getting worse!) over time, and so enable better architectural oversight. For that reason, I started looking around for tools to help me there. I found three that I liked:

  • Sonar appears to be the most advanced at the moment, at it has some great reports (check out the publicly available Sonar reports on Nemo). I have one problem, though: Sonar requires Maven to run. I’m loath to add a complete competing build system to the ASL.
  • QALab looks interesting, but it also looks to be an abandoned project, with no update for over three years.
  • XRadar appears to be the best bet at the moment, a new version was released a few weeks ago. It looks quite comprehensive.

Does anyone else have any recommondations for tools?

5 thoughts on “Trends in Build Metrics

  1. Hi Joe!

    You make a really good point on the importance of trends over time. I got used to taking that for granted while I was Agitar with our Dashboard, and now that I’m at Urbancode trending is built into AnthillPro as well. But there’s something about build tools that seems oriented to points in time rather than trends. No idea why…


  2. I remember the Bamboo presentation at CITCON London 2006: it really opened my eyes to the power of trend information. I haven’t yet seen what AnthillPro can do, but I image it must be pretty neat.

    To me, it makes sense that CI products are well placed to present trends in a coherent manner, because they are in charge of the invoking build after each change. They inherently know the time based aspects of the code.

    However, I don’t regard trending as a CI only exercise: I believe it should be part of a good automated build to give access to this. One day I’ll get it into ASL (perhaps!)


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  4. Hi Joe,

    The upcoming release of Clover 2.6.0 may be interest to you. It includes an API to allow Clover to be integrated into any Ant build – the javadocs are already online here:

    Alternatively, you can integrate Clover into an Ant build with about 3 lines of Ant XML:
    This will also generate clover history points, and historical reports to allow trend-reporting – something very valuable when viewing Code Coverage data.

    If you would like any help getting Clover integrated with the ASL, please let me know!

    Nick Pellow
    Atlassian – Clover


    1. Hi Nick, I’m quite impressed! Clover has certainly advanced a lot since I last looked. I hadn’t realised Clovers’ trend reporting had improved so much.

      I’ve previously only been looking at adding non-commercial modules to ASL, because it makes it very easy for me to distribute an “all-in-one” download. However, it certainly wouldn’t be too hard to add a module to integrate Clover, with instructions on how to configure it.

      I might get in contact later to discuss how to add it in to ASL. It will probably be much later, though, as I have some deadlines over the next few weeks and months (not to mention CITCON!)


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