Rules that help you discover design issues.
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AbstractClassWithoutAnyMethod

Since: PMD 4.2

Priority: High (1)

If an abstract class does not provides any methods, it may be acting as a simple data container that is not meant to be instantiated. In this case, it is probably better to use a private or protected constructor in order to prevent instantiation than make the class misleadingly abstract.

//ClassOrInterfaceDeclaration
    [@Abstract = 'true']
    [count(//MethodDeclaration) + count(//ConstructorDeclaration) = 0]
    [not(../Annotation/MarkerAnnotation/Name[typeof(@Image, 'com.google.auto.value.AutoValue', 'AutoValue')])]

Example(s):

public class abstract Example {
    String field;
    int otherField;
}

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/AbstractClassWithoutAnyMethod" />

AvoidCatchingGenericException

Since: PMD 4.2.6

Priority: Medium (3)

Avoid catching generic exceptions such as NullPointerException, RuntimeException, Exception in try-catch block

//CatchStatement/FormalParameter/Type/ReferenceType/ClassOrInterfaceType[
    @Image='NullPointerException' or
    @Image='Exception' or
    @Image='RuntimeException']

Example(s):

package com.igate.primitive;

public class PrimitiveType {

    public void downCastPrimitiveType() {
        try {
            System.out.println(" i [" + i + "]");
        } catch(Exception e) {
            e.printStackTrace();
        } catch(RuntimeException e) {
            e.printStackTrace();
        } catch(NullPointerException e) {
            e.printStackTrace();
        }
    }
}

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/AvoidCatchingGenericException" />

AvoidDeeplyNestedIfStmts

Since: PMD 1.0

Priority: Medium (3)

Avoid creating deeply nested if-then statements since they are harder to read and error-prone to maintain.

This rule is defined by the following Java class: net.sourceforge.pmd.lang.java.rule.design.AvoidDeeplyNestedIfStmtsRule

Example(s):

public class Foo {
  public void bar(int x, int y, int z) {
    if (x>y) {
      if (y>z) {
        if (z==x) {
         // !! too deep
        }
      }
    }
  }
}

This rule has the following properties:

Name Default Value Description
problemDepth 3 The if statement depth reporting threshold

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/AvoidDeeplyNestedIfStmts" />

AvoidRethrowingException

Since: PMD 3.8

Priority: Medium (3)

Catch blocks that merely rethrow a caught exception only add to code size and runtime complexity.

//CatchStatement[FormalParameter
 /VariableDeclaratorId/@Image = Block/BlockStatement/Statement
 /ThrowStatement/Expression/PrimaryExpression[count(PrimarySuffix)=0]/PrimaryPrefix/Name/@Image
 and count(Block/BlockStatement/Statement) =1]

Example(s):

public void bar() {
    try {
        // do something
    }  catch (SomeException se) {
       throw se;
    }
}

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/AvoidRethrowingException" />

AvoidThrowingNewInstanceOfSameException

Since: PMD 4.2.5

Priority: Medium (3)

Catch blocks that merely rethrow a caught exception wrapped inside a new instance of the same type only add to code size and runtime complexity.

//CatchStatement[
  count(Block/BlockStatement/Statement) = 1
  and
  FormalParameter/Type/ReferenceType/ClassOrInterfaceType/@Image = Block/BlockStatement/Statement/ThrowStatement/Expression/PrimaryExpression/PrimaryPrefix/AllocationExpression/ClassOrInterfaceType/@Image
  and
  count(Block/BlockStatement/Statement/ThrowStatement/Expression/PrimaryExpression/PrimaryPrefix/AllocationExpression/Arguments/ArgumentList/Expression) = 1
  and
  FormalParameter/VariableDeclaratorId = Block/BlockStatement/Statement/ThrowStatement/Expression/PrimaryExpression/PrimaryPrefix/AllocationExpression/Arguments/ArgumentList/Expression/PrimaryExpression/PrimaryPrefix/Name
  ]

Example(s):

public void bar() {
    try {
        // do something
    } catch (SomeException se) {
        // harmless comment
        throw new SomeException(se);
    }
}

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/AvoidThrowingNewInstanceOfSameException" />

AvoidThrowingNullPointerException

Since: PMD 1.8

Priority: High (1)

Avoid throwing NullPointerExceptions. These are confusing because most people will assume that the virtual machine threw it. Consider using an IllegalArgumentException instead; this will be clearly seen as a programmer-initiated exception.

//AllocationExpression/ClassOrInterfaceType[@Image='NullPointerException']

Example(s):

public class Foo {
    void bar() {
        throw new NullPointerException();
    }
}

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/AvoidThrowingNullPointerException" />

AvoidThrowingRawExceptionTypes

Since: PMD 1.8

Priority: High (1)

Avoid throwing certain exception types. Rather than throw a raw RuntimeException, Throwable, Exception, or Error, use a subclassed exception or error instead.

//ThrowStatement//AllocationExpression
 /ClassOrInterfaceType[
 (@Image='Throwable' and count(//ImportDeclaration/Name[ends-with(@Image,'Throwable')]) = 0)
or
 (@Image='Exception' and count(//ImportDeclaration/Name[ends-with(@Image,'Exception')]) = 0)
or
 (@Image='Error'  and count(//ImportDeclaration/Name[ends-with(@Image,'Error')]) = 0)
or
( @Image='RuntimeException'  and count(//ImportDeclaration/Name[ends-with(@Image,'RuntimeException')]) = 0)
]

Example(s):

public class Foo {
    public void bar() throws Exception {
        throw new Exception();
    }
}

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/AvoidThrowingRawExceptionTypes" />

ClassWithOnlyPrivateConstructorsShouldBeFinal

Since: PMD 4.1

Priority: High (1)

A class with only private constructors should be final, unless the private constructor is invoked by a inner class.

TypeDeclaration[count(../TypeDeclaration) = 1]/ClassOrInterfaceDeclaration
[@Final = 'false']
[count(./ClassOrInterfaceBody/ClassOrInterfaceBodyDeclaration/ConstructorDeclaration[@Private = 'true']) >= 1 ]
[count(./ClassOrInterfaceBody/ClassOrInterfaceBodyDeclaration/ConstructorDeclaration[(@Public = 'true') or (@Protected = 'true') or (@PackagePrivate = 'true')]) = 0 ]
[not(.//ClassOrInterfaceDeclaration)]

Example(s):

public class Foo {  //Should be final
    private Foo() { }
}

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/ClassWithOnlyPrivateConstructorsShouldBeFinal" />

CollapsibleIfStatements

Since: PMD 3.1

Priority: Medium (3)

Sometimes two consecutive ‘if’ statements can be consolidated by separating their conditions with a boolean short-circuit operator.

//IfStatement[@Else='false']/Statement
 /IfStatement[@Else='false']
 |
//IfStatement[@Else='false']/Statement
 /Block[count(BlockStatement)=1]/BlockStatement
  /Statement/IfStatement[@Else='false']

Example(s):

void bar() {
    if (x) {            // original implementation
        if (y) {
            // do stuff
        }
    }
}

void bar() {
    if (x && y) {        // optimized implementation
        // do stuff
    }
}

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/CollapsibleIfStatements" />

CouplingBetweenObjects

Since: PMD 1.04

Priority: Medium (3)

This rule counts the number of unique attributes, local variables, and return types within an object. A number higher than the specified threshold can indicate a high degree of coupling.

This rule is defined by the following Java class: net.sourceforge.pmd.lang.java.rule.design.CouplingBetweenObjectsRule

Example(s):

import com.Blah;
import org.Bar;
import org.Bardo;

public class Foo {
    private Blah var1;
    private Bar var2;

    //followed by many imports of unique objects
    void ObjectC doWork() {
        Bardo var55;
        ObjectA var44;
        ObjectZ var93;
        return something;
    }
}

This rule has the following properties:

Name Default Value Description
threshold 20 Unique type reporting threshold

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/CouplingBetweenObjects" />

CyclomaticComplexity

Since: PMD 1.03

Priority: Medium (3)

The complexity of methods directly affects maintenance costs and readability. Concentrating too much decisional logic in a single method makes its behaviour hard to read and change.

Cyclomatic complexity assesses the complexity of a method by counting the number of decision points in a method, plus one for the method entry. Decision points are places where the control flow jumps to another place in the program. As such, they include all control flow statements, such as if, while, for, and case. For more details on the calculation, see the documentation of the Cyclo metric.

Generally, numbers ranging from 1-4 denote low complexity, 5-7 denote moderate complexity, 8-10 denote high complexity, and 11+ is very high complexity. By default, this rule reports methods with a complexity >= 10. Additionnally, classes with many methods of moderate complexity get reported as well once the total of their methods’ complexities reaches 80, even if none of the methods was directly reported.

Reported methods should be broken down into several smaller methods. Reported classes should probably be broken down into subcomponents.

This rule is defined by the following Java class: net.sourceforge.pmd.lang.java.rule.design.CyclomaticComplexityRule

Example(s):

class Foo {
  void baseCyclo() {                // Cyclo = 1
    highCyclo();
  }

  void highCyclo() {                // Cyclo = 10: reported!
    int x = 0, y = 2;
    boolean a = false, b = true;

    if (a && (y == 1 ? b : true)) { // +3
      if (y == x) {                 // +1
        while (true) {              // +1
          if (x++ < 20) {           // +1
            break;                  // +1
          }
        }
      } else if (y == t && !d) {    // +2
        x = a ? y : x;              // +1
      } else {
        x = 2;
      }
    }
  }
}

This rule has the following properties:

Name Default Value Description
cycloOptions [] Choose options for the computation of Cyclo
classReportLevel 80 Total class complexity reporting threshold
methodReportLevel 10 Cyclomatic complexity reporting threshold
reportLevel 10 Deprecated Cyclomatic Complexity reporting threshold

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/CyclomaticComplexity" />

DataClass

Since: PMD 6.0

Priority: Medium (3)

Data Classes are simple data holders, which reveal most of their state, and without complex functionality. The lack of functionality may indicate that their behaviour is defined elsewhere, which is a sign of poor data-behaviour proximity. By directly exposing their internals, Data Classes break encapsulation, and therefore reduce the system’s maintainability and understandability. Moreover, classes tend to strongly rely on their data representation, which makes for a brittle design.

Refactoring a Data Class should focus on restoring a good data-behaviour proximity. In most cases, that means moving the operations defined on the data back into the class. In some other cases it may make sense to remove entirely the class and move the data into the former client classes.

This rule is defined by the following Java class: net.sourceforge.pmd.lang.java.rule.design.DataClassRule

Example(s):

public class DataClass {

  public int bar = 0;
  public int na = 0;
  private int bee = 0;

  public void setBee(int n) {
    bee = n;
  }
}

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/DataClass" />

DoNotExtendJavaLangError

Since: PMD 4.0

Priority: Medium (3)

Errors are system exceptions. Do not extend them.

//ClassOrInterfaceDeclaration/ExtendsList/ClassOrInterfaceType
  [@Image="Error" or @Image="java.lang.Error"]

Example(s):

public class Foo extends Error { }

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/DoNotExtendJavaLangError" />

ExceptionAsFlowControl

Since: PMD 1.8

Priority: Medium (3)

Using Exceptions as form of flow control is not recommended as they obscure true exceptions when debugging. Either add the necessary validation or use an alternate control structure.

This rule is defined by the following Java class: net.sourceforge.pmd.lang.java.rule.design.ExceptionAsFlowControlRule

Example(s):

public void bar() {
    try {
        try {
        } catch (Exception e) {
            throw new WrapperException(e);
            // this is essentially a GOTO to the WrapperException catch block
        }
    } catch (WrapperException e) {
        // do some more stuff
    }
}

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/ExceptionAsFlowControl" />

ExcessiveClassLength

Since: PMD 0.6

Priority: Medium (3)

Excessive class file lengths are usually indications that the class may be burdened with excessive responsibilities that could be provided by external classes or functions. In breaking these methods apart the code becomes more manageable and ripe for reuse.

This rule is defined by the following Java class: net.sourceforge.pmd.lang.java.rule.design.ExcessiveClassLengthRule

Example(s):

public class Foo {
    public void bar1() {
        // 1000 lines of code
    }
    public void bar2() {
        // 1000 lines of code
    }
    public void bar3() {
        // 1000 lines of code
    }

    public void barN() {
        // 1000 lines of code
    }
}

This rule has the following properties:

Name Default Value Description
topscore   Top score value
minimum   Minimum reporting threshold
sigma   Sigma value

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/ExcessiveClassLength" />

ExcessiveImports

Since: PMD 1.04

Priority: Medium (3)

A high number of imports can indicate a high degree of coupling within an object. This rule counts the number of unique imports and reports a violation if the count is above the user-specified threshold.

This rule is defined by the following Java class: net.sourceforge.pmd.lang.java.rule.design.ExcessiveImportsRule

Example(s):

import blah.blah.Baz;
import blah.blah.Bif;
// 18 others from the same package elided
public class Foo {
    public void doWork() {}
}

This rule has the following properties:

Name Default Value Description
topscore   Top score value
minimum   Minimum reporting threshold
sigma   Sigma value

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/ExcessiveImports" />

ExcessiveMethodLength

Since: PMD 0.6

Priority: Medium (3)

When methods are excessively long this usually indicates that the method is doing more than its name/signature might suggest. They also become challenging for others to digest since excessive scrolling causes readers to lose focus. Try to reduce the method length by creating helper methods and removing any copy/pasted code.

This rule is defined by the following Java class: net.sourceforge.pmd.lang.java.rule.design.ExcessiveMethodLengthRule

Example(s):

public void doSomething() {
    System.out.println("Hello world!");
    System.out.println("Hello world!");
    // 98 copies omitted for brevity.
}

This rule has the following properties:

Name Default Value Description
topscore   Top score value
minimum   Minimum reporting threshold
sigma   Sigma value

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/ExcessiveMethodLength" />

ExcessiveParameterList

Since: PMD 0.9

Priority: Medium (3)

Methods with numerous parameters are a challenge to maintain, especially if most of them share the same datatype. These situations usually denote the need for new objects to wrap the numerous parameters.

This rule is defined by the following Java class: net.sourceforge.pmd.lang.java.rule.design.ExcessiveParameterListRule

Example(s):

public void addPerson(      // too many arguments liable to be mixed up
    int birthYear, int birthMonth, int birthDate, int height, int weight, int ssn) {

    . . . .
}
 
public void addPerson(      // preferred approach
    Date birthdate, BodyMeasurements measurements, int ssn) {

    . . . .
}

This rule has the following properties:

Name Default Value Description
topscore   Top score value
minimum   Minimum reporting threshold
sigma   Sigma value

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/ExcessiveParameterList" />

ExcessivePublicCount

Since: PMD 1.04

Priority: Medium (3)

Classes with large numbers of public methods and attributes require disproportionate testing efforts since combinational side effects grow rapidly and increase risk. Refactoring these classes into smaller ones not only increases testability and reliability but also allows new variations to be developed easily.

This rule is defined by the following Java class: net.sourceforge.pmd.lang.java.rule.design.ExcessivePublicCountRule

Example(s):

public class Foo {
    public String value;
    public Bar something;
    public Variable var;
    // [... more more public attributes ...]

    public void doWork() {}
    public void doMoreWork() {}
    public void doWorkAgain() {}
    // [... more more public methods ...]
}

This rule has the following properties:

Name Default Value Description
topscore   Top score value
minimum   Minimum reporting threshold
sigma   Sigma value

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/ExcessivePublicCount" />

FinalFieldCouldBeStatic

Since: PMD 1.1

Priority: Medium (3)

If a final field is assigned to a compile-time constant, it could be made static, thus saving overhead in each object at runtime.

//FieldDeclaration
 [@Final='true' and @Static='false']
   /VariableDeclarator/VariableInitializer/Expression
    /PrimaryExpression[not(PrimarySuffix)]/PrimaryPrefix/Literal

Example(s):

public class Foo {
  public final int BAR = 42; // this could be static and save some space
}

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/FinalFieldCouldBeStatic" />

GodClass

Since: PMD 5.0

Priority: Medium (3)

The God Class rule detects the God Class design flaw using metrics. God classes do too many things, are very big and overly complex. They should be split apart to be more object-oriented. The rule uses the detection strategy described in “Object-Oriented Metrics in Practice”. The violations are reported against the entire class.

See also the references:

Michele Lanza and Radu Marinescu. Object-Oriented Metrics in Practice: Using Software Metrics to Characterize, Evaluate, and Improve the Design of Object-Oriented Systems. Springer, Berlin, 1 edition, October 2006. Page 80.

This rule is defined by the following Java class: net.sourceforge.pmd.lang.java.rule.design.GodClassRule

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/GodClass" />

ImmutableField

Since: PMD 2.0

Priority: Medium (3)

Identifies private fields whose values never change once they are initialized either in the declaration of the field or by a constructor. This helps in converting existing classes to becoming immutable ones.

This rule is defined by the following Java class: net.sourceforge.pmd.lang.java.rule.design.ImmutableFieldRule

Example(s):

public class Foo {
  private int x; // could be final
  public Foo() {
      x = 7;
  }
  public void foo() {
     int a = x + 2;
  }
}

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/ImmutableField" />

LawOfDemeter

Since: PMD 5.0

Priority: Medium (3)

The Law of Demeter is a simple rule, that says “only talk to friends”. It helps to reduce coupling between classes or objects.

See also the references:

This rule is defined by the following Java class: net.sourceforge.pmd.lang.java.rule.design.LawOfDemeterRule

Example(s):

public class Foo {
    /**
     * This example will result in two violations.
     */
    public void example(Bar b) {
        // this method call is ok, as b is a parameter of "example"
        C c = b.getC();

        // this method call is a violation, as we are using c, which we got from B.
        // We should ask b directly instead, e.g. "b.doItOnC();"
        c.doIt();

        // this is also a violation, just expressed differently as a method chain without temporary variables.
        b.getC().doIt();

        // a constructor call, not a method call.
        D d = new D();
        // this method call is ok, because we have create the new instance of D locally.
        d.doSomethingElse(); 
    }
}

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/LawOfDemeter" />

LogicInversion

Since: PMD 5.0

Priority: Medium (3)

Use opposite operator instead of negating the whole expression with a logic complement operator.

//UnaryExpressionNotPlusMinus[@Image='!']/PrimaryExpression/PrimaryPrefix/Expression[EqualityExpression or RelationalExpression]

Example(s):

public boolean bar(int a, int b) {

    if (!(a == b)) { // use !=
         return false;
     }

    if (!(a < b)) { // use >=
         return false;
    }

    return true;
}

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/LogicInversion" />

LoosePackageCoupling

Since: PMD 5.0

Priority: Medium (3)

Avoid using classes from the configured package hierarchy outside of the package hierarchy, except when using one of the configured allowed classes.

This rule is defined by the following Java class: net.sourceforge.pmd.lang.java.rule.design.LoosePackageCouplingRule

Example(s):

package some.package;

import some.other.package.subpackage.subsubpackage.DontUseThisClass;

public class Bar {
    DontUseThisClass boo = new DontUseThisClass();
}

This rule has the following properties:

Name Default Value Description
classes [] Allowed classes
packages [] Restricted packages

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/LoosePackageCoupling" />

ModifiedCyclomaticComplexity

Deprecated

Since: PMD 5.1.2

Priority: Medium (3)

Complexity directly affects maintenance costs is determined by the number of decision points in a method plus one for the method entry. The decision points include ‘if’, ‘while’, ‘for’, and ‘case labels’ calls.
Generally, numbers ranging from 1-4 denote low complexity, 5-7 denote moderate complexity, 8-10 denote high complexity, and 11+ is very high complexity. Modified complexity treats switch statements as a single decision point.

This rule is defined by the following Java class: net.sourceforge.pmd.lang.java.rule.design.ModifiedCyclomaticComplexityRule

Example(s):

public class Foo {    // This has a Cyclomatic Complexity = 9
1   public void example()  {
2       if (a == b)  {
3           if (a1 == b1) {
                fiddle();
4           } else if a2 == b2) {
                fiddle();
            }  else {
                fiddle();
            }
5       } else if (c == d) {
6           while (c == d) {
                fiddle();
            }
7        } else if (e == f) {
8           for (int n = 0; n < h; n++) {
                fiddle();
            }
        } else{
9           switch (z) {
                case 1:
                    fiddle();
                    break;
                case 2:
                    fiddle();
                    break;
                case 3:
                    fiddle();
                    break;
                default:
                    fiddle();
                    break;
            }
        }
    }
}

This rule has the following properties:

Name Default Value Description
showMethodsComplexity true Add method average violations to the report
showClassesComplexity true Add class average violations to the report
reportLevel 10 Cyclomatic Complexity reporting threshold

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/ModifiedCyclomaticComplexity" />

NcssConstructorCount

Deprecated

Since: PMD 3.9

Priority: Medium (3)

This rule uses the NCSS (Non-Commenting Source Statements) algorithm to determine the number of lines of code for a given constructor. NCSS ignores comments, and counts actual statements. Using this algorithm, lines of code that are split are counted as one.

This rule is defined by the following Java class: net.sourceforge.pmd.lang.java.rule.design.NcssConstructorCountRule

Example(s):

public class Foo extends Bar {
    public Foo() {
        super();





        //this constructor only has 1 NCSS lines
        super.foo();
    }
}

This rule has the following properties:

Name Default Value Description
topscore   Top score value
minimum   Minimum reporting threshold
sigma   Sigma value

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/NcssConstructorCount" />

NcssCount

Since: PMD 6.0

Priority: Medium (3)

This rule uses the NCSS (Non-Commenting Source Statements) metric to determine the number of lines of code in a class, method or constructor. NCSS ignores comments, blank lines, and only counts actual statements. For more details on the calculation, see the documentation of the NCSS metric.

This rule is defined by the following Java class: net.sourceforge.pmd.lang.java.rule.design.NcssCountRule

Example(s):

import java.util.Collections;       // +0
import java.io.IOException;         // +0

class Foo {                         // +1, total Ncss = 12

  public void bigMethod()           // +1
      throws IOException {
    int x = 0, y = 2;               // +1
    boolean a = false, b = true;    // +1

    if (a || b) {                   // +1
      try {                         // +1
        do {                        // +1
          x += 2;                   // +1
        } while (x < 12);

        System.exit(0);             // +1
      } catch (IOException ioe) {   // +1
        throw new PatheticFailException(ioe); // +1
      }
    } else {
      assert false;                 // +1
    }
  }
}

This rule has the following properties:

Name Default Value Description
ncssOptions [] Choose options for the calculation of Ncss
methodReportLevel 12 Metric reporting threshold for methods
classReportLevel 250 Metric reporting threshold for classes

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/NcssCount" />

NcssMethodCount

Deprecated

Since: PMD 3.9

Priority: Medium (3)

This rule uses the NCSS (Non-Commenting Source Statements) algorithm to determine the number of lines of code for a given method. NCSS ignores comments, and counts actual statements. Using this algorithm, lines of code that are split are counted as one.

This rule is defined by the following Java class: net.sourceforge.pmd.lang.java.rule.design.NcssMethodCountRule

Example(s):

public class Foo extends Bar {
    public int methd() {
        super.methd();






        //this method only has 1 NCSS lines
        return 1;
    }
}

This rule has the following properties:

Name Default Value Description
topscore   Top score value
minimum   Minimum reporting threshold
sigma   Sigma value

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/NcssMethodCount" />

NcssTypeCount

Deprecated

Since: PMD 3.9

Priority: Medium (3)

This rule uses the NCSS (Non-Commenting Source Statements) algorithm to determine the number of lines of code for a given type. NCSS ignores comments, and counts actual statements. Using this algorithm, lines of code that are split are counted as one.

This rule is defined by the following Java class: net.sourceforge.pmd.lang.java.rule.design.NcssTypeCountRule

Example(s):

public class Foo extends Bar {
    public Foo() {
        //this class only has 6 NCSS lines
        super();





        super.foo();
    }
}

This rule has the following properties:

Name Default Value Description
topscore   Top score value
minimum   Minimum reporting threshold
sigma   Sigma value

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/NcssTypeCount" />

NPathComplexity

Since: PMD 3.9

Priority: Medium (3)

The NPath complexity of a method is the number of acyclic execution paths through that method. While cyclomatic complexity counts the number of decision points in a method, NPath counts the number of full paths from the beginning to the end of the block of the method. That metric grows exponentially, as it multiplies the complexity of statements in the same block. For more details on the calculation, see the documentation of the NPath metric.

A threshold of 200 is generally considered the point where measures should be taken to reduce complexity and increase readability.

This rule is defined by the following Java class: net.sourceforge.pmd.lang.java.rule.design.NPathComplexityRule

Example(s):

public class Foo {
  public static void bar() { // Ncss = 252: reported!
    boolean a, b = true;
    try { // 2 * 2 + 2 = 6
      if (true) { // 2
        List buz = new ArrayList();
      }

      for(int i = 0; i < 19; i++) { // * 2
        List buz = new ArrayList();
      }
    } catch(Exception e) {
      if (true) { // 2
        e.printStackTrace();
      }
    }

    while (j++ < 20) { //  * 2
      List buz = new ArrayList();
    }

    switch(j) { // * 7
      case 1:
      case 2: break;
      case 3: j = 5; break;
      case 4: if (b && a) { bar(); } break;
      default: break;
    }

    do { // * 3
        List buz = new ArrayList();
    } while (a && j++ < 30);
  }
}

This rule has the following properties:

Name Default Value Description
minimum 200.0 Deprecated Minimum reporting threshold
reportLevel 200 N-Path Complexity reporting threshold

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/NPathComplexity" />

SignatureDeclareThrowsException

Since: PMD 1.2

Priority: Medium (3)

A method/constructor shouldn’t explicitly throw the generic java.lang.Exception, since it is unclear which exceptions that can be thrown from the methods. It might be difficult to document and understand such vague interfaces. Use either a class derived from RuntimeException or a checked exception.

This rule is defined by the following Java class: net.sourceforge.pmd.lang.java.rule.design.SignatureDeclareThrowsExceptionRule

Example(s):

public void foo() throws Exception {
}

This rule has the following properties:

Name Default Value Description
IgnoreJUnitCompletely false Allow all methods in a JUnit testcase to throw Exceptions

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/SignatureDeclareThrowsException" />

SimplifiedTernary

Since: PMD 5.4.0

Priority: Medium (3)

Look for ternary operators with the form condition ? literalBoolean : foo or condition ? foo : literalBoolean.

These expressions can be simplified respectively to condition || foo when the literalBoolean is true !condition && foo when the literalBoolean is false or !condition || foo when the literalBoolean is true condition && foo when the literalBoolean is false

//ConditionalExpression[@Ternary='true'][not(PrimaryExpression/*/Literal) and (Expression/PrimaryExpression/*/Literal/BooleanLiteral)]
|
//ConditionalExpression[@Ternary='true'][not(Expression/PrimaryExpression/*/Literal) and (PrimaryExpression/*/Literal/BooleanLiteral)]

Example(s):

public class Foo {
    public boolean test() {
        return condition ? true : something(); // can be as simple as return condition || something();
    }

    public void test2() {
        final boolean value = condition ? false : something(); // can be as simple as value = !condition && something();
    }

    public boolean test3() {
        return condition ? something() : true; // can be as simple as return !condition || something();
    }

    public void test4() {
        final boolean otherValue = condition ? something() : false; // can be as simple as condition && something();
    }
}

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/SimplifiedTernary" />

SimplifyBooleanAssertion

Since: PMD 3.6

Priority: Medium (3)

Avoid negation in an assertTrue or assertFalse test.

For example, rephrase:

assertTrue(!expr);

as:

assertFalse(expr);
//StatementExpression
[
.//Name[@Image='assertTrue' or  @Image='assertFalse']
and
PrimaryExpression/PrimarySuffix/Arguments/ArgumentList
 /Expression/UnaryExpressionNotPlusMinus[@Image='!']
/PrimaryExpression/PrimaryPrefix
]
[ancestor::ClassOrInterfaceDeclaration[//ClassOrInterfaceType[pmd-java:typeof(@Image, 'junit.framework.TestCase','TestCase')] or //MarkerAnnotation/Name[pmd-java:typeof(@Image, 'org.junit.Test', 'Test')]]]

Example(s):

public class SimpleTest extends TestCase {
    public void testX() {
        assertTrue("not empty", !r.isEmpty());  // replace with assertFalse("not empty", r.isEmpty())
        assertFalse(!r.isEmpty());              // replace with assertTrue(r.isEmpty())
    }
}

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/SimplifyBooleanAssertion" />

SimplifyBooleanExpressions

Since: PMD 1.05

Priority: Medium (3)

Avoid unnecessary comparisons in boolean expressions, they serve no purpose and impacts readability.

//EqualityExpression/PrimaryExpression
 /PrimaryPrefix/Literal/BooleanLiteral

Example(s):

public class Bar {
  // can be simplified to
  // bar = isFoo();
  private boolean bar = (isFoo() == true);

  public isFoo() { return false;}
}

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/SimplifyBooleanExpressions" />

SimplifyBooleanReturns

Since: PMD 0.9

Priority: Medium (3)

Avoid unnecessary if-then-else statements when returning a boolean. The result of the conditional test can be returned instead.

This rule is defined by the following Java class: net.sourceforge.pmd.lang.java.rule.design.SimplifyBooleanReturnsRule

Example(s):

public boolean isBarEqualTo(int x) {
    if (bar == x) {      // this bit of code...
        return true;
    } else {
        return false;
    }
}

public boolean isBarEqualTo(int x) {
    return bar == x;    // can be replaced with this
}

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/SimplifyBooleanReturns" />

SimplifyConditional

Since: PMD 3.1

Priority: Medium (3)

No need to check for null before an instanceof; the instanceof keyword returns false when given a null argument.

//Expression
 [ConditionalOrExpression
 [EqualityExpression[@Image='==']
  //NullLiteral
  and
  UnaryExpressionNotPlusMinus
   [@Image='!']//InstanceOfExpression[PrimaryExpression
     //Name/@Image = ancestor::ConditionalOrExpression/EqualityExpression
      /PrimaryExpression/PrimaryPrefix/Name/@Image]
  and
  (count(UnaryExpressionNotPlusMinus) + 1 = count(*))
 ]
or
ConditionalAndExpression
 [EqualityExpression[@Image='!=']//NullLiteral
 and
InstanceOfExpression
 [PrimaryExpression[count(PrimarySuffix[@ArrayDereference='true'])=0]
  //Name[not(contains(@Image,'.'))]/@Image = ancestor::ConditionalAndExpression
   /EqualityExpression/PrimaryExpression/PrimaryPrefix/Name/@Image]
 and
(count(InstanceOfExpression) + 1 = count(*))
 ]
]

Example(s):

class Foo {
  void bar(Object x) {
    if (x != null && x instanceof Bar) {
      // just drop the "x != null" check
    }
  }
}

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/SimplifyConditional" />

SingularField

Since: PMD 3.1

Priority: Medium (3)

Fields whose scopes are limited to just single methods do not rely on the containing object to provide them to other methods. They may be better implemented as local variables within those methods.

This rule is defined by the following Java class: net.sourceforge.pmd.lang.java.rule.design.SingularFieldRule

Example(s):

public class Foo {
    private int x;  // no reason to exist at the Foo instance level
    public void foo(int y) {
     x = y + 5;
     return x;
    }
}

This rule has the following properties:

Name Default Value Description
disallowNotAssignment false Disallow violations where the first usage is not an assignment
checkInnerClasses false Check inner classes

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/SingularField" />

StdCyclomaticComplexity

Deprecated

Since: PMD 5.1.2

Priority: Medium (3)

Complexity directly affects maintenance costs is determined by the number of decision points in a method plus one for the method entry. The decision points include ‘if’, ‘while’, ‘for’, and ‘case labels’ calls.
Generally, numbers ranging from 1-4 denote low complexity, 5-7 denote moderate complexity, 8-10 denote high complexity, and 11+ is very high complexity.

This rule is defined by the following Java class: net.sourceforge.pmd.lang.java.rule.design.StdCyclomaticComplexityRule

Example(s):

public class Foo {    // This has a Cyclomatic Complexity = 12
1   public void example()  {
2       if (a == b || (c == d && e == f))  { // Only one
3           if (a1 == b1) {
                fiddle();
4           } else if a2 == b2) {
                fiddle();
            }  else {
                fiddle();
            }
5       } else if (c == d) {
6           while (c == d) {
                fiddle();
            }
7        } else if (e == f) {
8           for (int n = 0; n < h; n++) {
                fiddle();
            }
        } else{
            switch (z) {
9               case 1:
                    fiddle();
                    break;
10              case 2:
                    fiddle();
                    break;
11              case 3:
                    fiddle();
                    break;
12              default:
                    fiddle();
                    break;
            }
        }
    }
}

This rule has the following properties:

Name Default Value Description
showMethodsComplexity true Add method average violations to the report
showClassesComplexity true Add class average violations to the report
reportLevel 10 Cyclomatic Complexity reporting threshold

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/StdCyclomaticComplexity" />

SwitchDensity

Since: PMD 1.02

Priority: Medium (3)

A high ratio of statements to labels in a switch statement implies that the switch statement is overloaded. Consider moving the statements into new methods or creating subclasses based on the switch variable.

This rule is defined by the following Java class: net.sourceforge.pmd.lang.java.rule.design.SwitchDensityRule

Example(s):

public class Foo {
  public void bar(int x) {
    switch (x) {
      case 1: {
        // lots of statements
        break;
      } case 2: {
        // lots of statements
        break;
      }
    }
  }
}

This rule has the following properties:

Name Default Value Description
topscore   Top score value
minimum   Minimum reporting threshold
sigma   Sigma value

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/SwitchDensity" />

TooManyFields

Since: PMD 3.0

Priority: Medium (3)

Classes that have too many fields can become unwieldy and could be redesigned to have fewer fields, possibly through grouping related fields in new objects. For example, a class with individual city/state/zip fields could park them within a single Address field.

This rule is defined by the following Java class: net.sourceforge.pmd.lang.java.rule.design.TooManyFieldsRule

Example(s):

public class Person {   // too many separate fields
   int birthYear;
   int birthMonth;
   int birthDate;
   float height;
   float weight;
}

public class Person {   // this is more manageable
   Date birthDate;
   BodyMeasurements measurements;
}

This rule has the following properties:

Name Default Value Description
maxfields 15 Max allowable fields

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/TooManyFields" />

TooManyMethods

Since: PMD 4.2

Priority: Medium (3)

A class with too many methods is probably a good suspect for refactoring, in order to reduce its complexity and find a way to have more fine grained objects.

//ClassOrInterfaceDeclaration/ClassOrInterfaceBody
     [
      count(./ClassOrInterfaceBodyDeclaration/MethodDeclaration/MethodDeclarator[
         not (
                starts-with(@Image,'get')
                or
                starts-with(@Image,'set')
                or
                starts-with(@Image,'is')
            )
      ]) > $maxmethods
   ]

This rule has the following properties:

Name Default Value Description
maxmethods 10 The method count reporting threshold

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/TooManyMethods" />

UselessOverridingMethod

Since: PMD 3.3

Priority: Medium (3)

The overriding method merely calls the same method defined in a superclass.

This rule is defined by the following Java class: net.sourceforge.pmd.lang.java.rule.design.UselessOverridingMethodRule

Example(s):

public void foo(String bar) {
    super.foo(bar);      // why bother overriding?
}

public String foo() {
    return super.foo();  // why bother overriding?
}

@Id
public Long getId() {
    return super.getId();  // OK if 'ignoreAnnotations' is false, which is the default behavior
}

This rule has the following properties:

Name Default Value Description
ignoreAnnotations false Ignore annotations

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/UselessOverridingMethod" />

UseObjectForClearerAPI

Since: PMD 4.2.6

Priority: Medium (3)

When you write a public method, you should be thinking in terms of an API. If your method is public, it means other class will use it, therefore, you want (or need) to offer a comprehensive and evolutive API. If you pass a lot of information as a simple series of Strings, you may think of using an Object to represent all those information. You’ll get a simpler API (such as doWork(Workload workload), rather than a tedious series of Strings) and more importantly, if you need at some point to pass extra data, you’ll be able to do so by simply modifying or extending Workload without any modification to your API.

//MethodDeclaration[@Public]/MethodDeclarator/FormalParameters[
     count(FormalParameter/Type/ReferenceType/ClassOrInterfaceType[@Image = 'String']) > 3
]

Example(s):

public class MyClass {
    public void connect(String username,
        String pssd,
        String databaseName,
        String databaseAdress)
        // Instead of those parameters object
        // would ensure a cleaner API and permit
        // to add extra data transparently (no code change):
        // void connect(UserData data);
    {

    }
}

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/UseObjectForClearerAPI" />

UseUtilityClass

Since: PMD 0.3

Priority: Medium (3)

For classes that only have static methods, consider making them utility classes. Note that this doesn’t apply to abstract classes, since their subclasses may well include non-static methods. Also, if you want this class to be a utility class, remember to add a private constructor to prevent instantiation. (Note, that this use was known before PMD 5.1.0 as UseSingleton).

This rule is defined by the following Java class: net.sourceforge.pmd.lang.java.rule.design.UseUtilityClassRule

Example(s):

public class MaybeAUtility {
  public static void foo() {}
  public static void bar() {}
}

Use this rule by referencing it:

<rule ref="category/java/design.xml/UseUtilityClass" />