Obfuscating Java Code and Continuous Integration

Java is a funny language – the ease in which code can be decompiled is astonishing. Eclipse plugins exist to make it a simple double-click on a compiled class file.

I spent a fair proportion of time this weekend adding code obfuscation to one of my projects, and it was relatively easy, despite the complexity of the software. Code obfuscation is normally a matter of working out what files to obfuscate, specifying the library code these files depend on, and setting up an ANT task to run it.

In the case of my project, it is somewhat more complex due to its software architecture: it is entirely composed of plugins, which have weak interdependencies. To handle this I developed a few custom ANT tasks to discover each of the plugins, work out their relationships, and then obfuscate appropriately. This is a relatively nice solution, as with the rest of my ANT script, as it means that plugins can be developed with no interaction necessary to reconfigure the build script.

This is particularly nice when it comes to my continuous build server – I get hourly builds (where data has changed in our code repository), and nightly builds regardless that are now fully obfuscated. In addition, my nightly build runs a whole barrage of tests and report generation tools to always keep us informed.

It takes a fair while to set up such a system, but the value is immense – other people involved with this application can download a build that is no more than a day out of date. This allows for frequent testing, as well as the certainty that we can always build our software.

If anyone has suggestions for other things that a continuous integration server should run, then please let me know.

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