Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Reentrancer automatically converts shared, global state into thread-local state. While the refactorings that the paper presents will indeed make the program safer to run concurrently, it may not always be easy to convert shared state to thread-local state. Often the shared state is the result of lazy programming and can be refactored away with a bit of determination. However, there are many times where tasks cannot be run completely in isolation on their own threads and do truly need global state as a coordination mechanism. Given that, I’m not sure how useful I really think Reentrancer is.

The refactoring takes place in three parts: surrounding static fields with accessors, converting static initializers to lazy initializers, and finally making the data thread local. The author did point out that this process can lead to incorrect behavior. It doesn’t seem like it would be worth the risk of making your application both incorrect and slower (according to the authors’ own benchmarks). Not being able to preserve behavior in the face of exceptions could cause an enormous amount of rework to be necessary. Database and file system access were also mentioned as blockers to this refactoring, but I find those to be less problematic because in the applications that I work with, those external accesses are normally separated from key processing of business logic

I found that this paper had overlap with the previous two on automated refactoring tools, but I found it less readable and less useful in practice.

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