Static code validation with FlexPMD

Jul 27, 2010

For a long time a code validator was one of the tools missing from the ActionScript developers toolbox. Last year that changed and we can now benefit by keeping a robotic eye on our projects. One that helps improve style and consistency, and avoid complexity. Something even more important in team or distributed code environments. Hooking validation up to a continuous integration server is even better as the audit triggers automatically, problems get reported and graphed, and builds can be failed when maximum limits are breached - a clear signal that it’s time to review and refactor.

Joa Ebert was first to the market with AS3V and I quickly wired it up to run with TextMate. AS3V is 90% to 95% there, but still needs a couple of features. My guess is that Joa is now focusing on other things.

Since then Adobe have open sourced FlexPMD. After a couple of false starts I was able run the RC4 build against the codebase I was working with at the time. Even though we’d been through and fixed most of the 3,000 odd issues reported by AS3V, FlexPMD kicked out over 5,000 ‘violations’. The code had been worked on by around 20 developers over a 3 year period so it’s likely to be an extreme case, but still my advice is to use it from the start of a project.

For TextMate users the FlexPMD.tmbundle should help make the process easier. Installation and usage details are covered in the README. They boil down to using ⇧⌃v then selecting ‘Project’, ‘Document’ or ‘Show Report’.

Finally its worth saying that being pragmatic is a sensible option when working with validation tools. They aren’t a substitute for a good programmer. So blindly accepting the default ruleset and fixing everything won’t necessarily be productive. You can and should consider modifying the rules to get what suits you and your team, and there’s always going to be exceptions to the rule. Which is what //NOPMD is for.


Doron Katz - Oct 1, 2010

Hi mate, I cant seem to get // NO PMD to work, and im using 1.2. No effect whatsoever using that. Any ideas?

Simon - Nov 7, 2010

Try //NOPMD - that’s without the space.

Jean - Nov 3, 2010

The correct syntax is // No PMD at the end of the line you want to ignore.