Intro to Style Guides (Activity)

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Title The Need for Style Guides
Overview In this activity students will learn about why we need a style guide for team-based projects and compare style guides for a various projects. Based on this experience, students will develop a style guide for their team.
Prerequisite Knowledge Knowledge of basic regular expressions is helpful to understand the checkstyle documentation.
Learning Objectives Upon completion of this activity, students will be able to:
  • Explain how a style guide contributes to a team project.
  • Develop a style guide for a project.


Working by themselves on small projects convinces students that coding style his little relevance. As they begin work on HFOSS projects, they need to begin to build an appreciation for the place of a standardized coding style.

This topic is an opportunity for active debate about coding style, but is also a lesson in the need for accepting standards - even if they are not your preference.


The following activities should be completed by the student before coming to class:

Ideas for in-class activities:

  • Have students work in their groups to compare their assessment of the checkstyle items. Each group should develop a single style for their work.

(optional) Install checkstyle for your favorite IDE:

(optional) Add checkstyle to your build (ant, maven, etc.)


Ideas for assignments:



Additional Information

Knowledge Area/Knowledge Unit SE - Software Engineering
Topic SE/Software Process, SE/Tools and Environments,
Level of Difficulty medium (because of the time required)
Estimated Time to Completion 2.5 hours preparing plus one class session
Materials/Environment Internet access, Java IDE
Author Ben Coleman
Source N/A
License Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Suggestions for the Open Source Project:

Suggestions for an open source community member who is working in conjunction with the instructor.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

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