Sunday, March 23, 2014

Contemplate Ltd

These are days in which one of the outcomes of the work academics do, and one of the measures of its impact, is commercial exploitation of research and development carried out within the four walls of the "Ivory Tower". Universities the world over have different approaches towards commercial exploitation of research funding and IP rights and mine is no exception, apart from being a bit late in this game.

A discussion of IP policy issues might be the topic for a future post. Here I will just limit myself to pointing out an excellent example of a spin-off company from the University of Edinburgh, Contemplate Ltd, whose CTO and founder is Don Sannella. (Disclaimer: I have absolutely no connection with Contemplate myself!)

Contemplate was founded to commercialise research on static analysis done at the University of Edinburgh. Its product, ThreadSafe, pinpoints and helps to diagnose the most common and pernicious Java concurrency bugs. Concurrency is essential for high performance and low latency, but concurrent programming is hard to do right and therefore the use of automatic analysis tools should play an important role in the development of parallel software.

ThreadSafe is available as an easy-to-use Eclipse plug-in, which relates bug reports directly to the source code, and also as a SonarQube plugin (for team working). Also, by the end of March, as a command-line tool which generates an HTML report (for use with build tools).

This InfoQ article shows ThreadSafe in action finding concurrency errors in open source applications including Apache JMeter and K9Mail that are not caught by any other Java static analysis tool. 

Free two-week trials are available from Moreover, I understand that the tool will soon be offered with monthly and annual subscriptions.

If you develop concurrent software with Java, I encourage you to try the tool.

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