Monday, 10 August 2015

Object Oriented Design

This short article revisits the first principles of Object Oriented Design

  1. Why is OO design better than normal procedural coding languages like Bash or C? There are a few reasons. Application code structure and naming should map more readily to real world concepts. Object Oriented design lends itself to more naturally cohesive components (related data and methods are collocated). Thanks to encapsulation, we can reduce coupling. Through the concepts of polymorphism and inheritance we can promote reuse.
  2. Explain encapsulation? The state of an object should be hidden and only manipulated by methods. The advantage here is that it allows the implementation with in the object to be changed over time without impacting components that depend on this component.
  3. What is inheritance? Classes can automatically obtain the functionality and state of a parent class. This is also known as sub classing. Inheritance is usually applied for "is a" type relationships. For example if the base class is Car, Corolla is a type of car so Corolla extends Car and automatically gets it's methods and state.
  4. What is polymorphism? This means where a parent class is used we can easily interchange objects of a sub class. For example if if we have a container that holds objects of type Car, then instances of Corolla and Golf can be added to the container. Polymorphism works best when you understand the Liskov Substitution Principle.
  5. Explain the concept of dependency? Dependency means that a relationship exists between one or more components. Dependency can be explicit or direct, for example an import statement at the top of a Java class definition. Or Dependency can be implicit or indirect for example two components know the format of an XML document. Generally we favour components that have a lower number of dependencies on other components. And we favour explicit dependencies that are loosely coupled. Coupling is used to classify the strength of the dependency.
  6. Explain the concept of Coupling? Coupling is the measure of the dependency relationship between two components. Coupling can be tight, where a change in a class has a knock on change in another class. For example Where a component depends on the internal data fields of another component. Loose coupling means that a component depends on behaviour of another component.
  7. Should software components be tightly or loosely coupled? Good software components should favour loose coupling. In loose coupling, components depend on methods of other components. This means the internals of a component can be changed in isolation - once the contract on the interface is maintained. Tight coupling means that data fields or structure can't be changed in isolation of other components.
  8. Explain cohesion? Cohesion is how logically related are software elements that are contained with in a software component. Highly cohesive components are better. Low cohesive components should be split into further components to promote reuse and reduce coupling.
  9. Are getters and setters "evil"? Short answer yes. Because it breaks encapsulation. Breaking encapsulation means your class is less maintainable in the future. Exposing state to other classes means other classes can contain logic that manipulates the state. Go here for a good exploration of this concept. Systems that use getters and setters are object based, but not object oriented.
Original article 10th August, 2015.
Updated 22nd October, 2015 - clarified coupling, added a statement on dependency. Updated 13th November, 2018 - Spelling mistake corrections

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