JAuthorTagger - (re)edit your javadoc author tags at project level!
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Re-edit your javadoc @author tags at project level! ;)


I faced the problem that I have dozens of classes in a project without proper @author tags, but I want to publish my code. So I have to put/modify @author tags in EVERY class.

I didn't find a solution with Google under 1 minute and a paperful of feature ideas came to my mind within 5 minutes, so I decided to implement a thing.

I made JAuthorTagger which solves the problem (at least for me :D): I give him a project directory with a project specific configuration, and this thing injects the given authors into all *.java files.


  • easy-2-use, 1 argument CLI
  • project specific configuration via a simple, minimalistic text file
  • you can tell which classes were edited by which authors, or which authors edited which classes
  • you can remove authors from classes by pattern
  • you can skip classes
  • handles package-info.java files too
  • creates backup automatically by default, but you can turn it off
  • can restore previous version from backup
  • test mode: no modification, creates new files with modified author lists instead
  • generates a sexy HTML diff report to show you what had been changed


The algorithm is really simple, it assumes that your files are well-formatted:

  • the package declaration's line should start with the keyword package (without leading inline comment)
  • the authors should be in one line each in this format: " * @author name"
  • the first type declaration in the file must be the public one
  • also the public must be at the beginning of the line
  • the algorithm does not check if the lines are in the proper block or outside of a multiline comment, it will pick the first line that matches the appropriate pattern


  1. Install JRE 1.7+
  2. Get the JAR
  3. Write a configuration file (see below) for your project named path/2/ur/project/.authors
  4. Run the thingy: java -jar author-tagger.jar path/2/ur/project

JAuthorTagger will automatically create a backup of every file, by adding .at-save suffix to the original filename. Previous backups will be overwritten.

No-backup mode

If you provide nobackup as a 2nd command line argument:

  • no backup will be created
  • also, previous backups will be deleted

Test mode

The program has a test mode which is a twisted behaviour. If you provide test as the 2nd argument:

  • your original .java files will NOT be modified
  • new files will be created instead, with .at-test suffix in their filename


If you used the default backup mode and you don't like the result, you can revert the changes by calling JAuthorTagger with restore as the 2nd argument.


  • the configuration file is a simple text file which will be interpreted line by line, sequentially
  • it must be placed in the project directory with the name .authors
  • it must have UTF-8 encoding without BOM
  • configuration lines are those which match the pattern: [any whitespace] ACTION [any whitespace] PARAMETER
  • lines that not match the pattern will be skipped, so you can write simple text around configuration lines
  • whitespaces are optional, they will be thrown away when parsing
  • available actions:
    • $ (**$**elect)
    • @ (**@**uthor)
    • ! (special operation)
    • - (deletion)
    • + (addition)
  • $ - Starts a new section. The parameter must be a class name filter (see ClassNameFilter's doc). It selects your .java files, and the following operations (special, del, add) will be performed on them.
  • @ - Starts a new section. The parameter must be an author name. The following operations (del, add) will affect this author.
  • ! - There is only one special action, skip, it can be used in $ sections. The skip action tells JAuthorTagger to forget the selected classes, do not perform any operation on them.
  • - - Used in a $ section, the parameter must be an author name filter (see SimpleStringFilter's doc), and means that matching authors in the selected classes will be removed. Used in a @ section, the parameter must be a class name filter, and means that the selected author will be removed from matching classes.
  • + - Used in a $ section, the parameter must be an author name: it will be added to the selected classes. Used in a @ section, the parameter must be a class name filter, and means that the given author will be added to matching classes.

Sample configuration file:

Selecting my classes:

	Deleting any other author, because now I want to overwrite:

	And adding myself:
	+Zsolt Jurányi

This is idenctical to the previous one:


@ Zsolt Jurányi

If you want to skip classes from the whole procedure:


Or just by classname:

Remember, indenting and separating action char from parameter is really up to you, it isn't necessary for JAuthorTagger.

Further ideas

  • smarter logging
  • smarter algorithm: filename contains type name -> so we can look for declaration with type name
  • it will be more useful as a Maven plugin
  • and/or as an Eclipse plugin with a nice GUI