Skip to main content

Stop Making Everything Public

Part one of my Three Steps to Code Quality via TDD series.

We always default to public class when creating a new class. Why? The concept of visibility in OO languages appears very early on in programming books, yet more often than not most of the classes we create default to public visibility.

@simonbrown stated that each time you make something public you need to make a donation to charity. In other words we should think more about why the class we are making should be visible to everyone. I really like this idea that the use of the public keyword should be a well thought out decision.

Server side development has a part to play in the lack of concern given to visibility issues. Library or framework developers on the other hand must carefully consider what is part of the public API. Any changes made after are considered breaking and require careful consideration. Yet in the land of server side development this is see as a non issue. This is wrong. If we treat our tests as consumers of our public API, constantly updating them or modifying them should be a warning symbol.

Use internal or private classes for details and public classes for your API. The beauty of this is that TDD drives your public API, which should be fairly stable. Internally however you want the ability to refactor without a suite of tests breaking, otherwise what is the point of writing automated tests?

Implementation details are introduced as part of the refactor step. Ideally they should never be introduced without a passing test in place, as previously the simplest possible thing should have been done.

What Should be Public Then?

  • Application services (use cases) that adapters talk to.
  • Adapters - controllers, console application, presentation layer.
  • Domain concepts - money or customer for example
  • Strategies - things you need to inject, repositories, third parties
Doesn't this lead to god classes?

No. As part of the TDD cycle, when refactoring you can extract implementation details. There is no reason why the public types should suffer.

Doesn't this lead to large tests on the public types?

No. You'll use less test doubles (stubs, mocks, fakes) and in turn reduce setup. For any logic that appears to be painful or common you can introduce domain concepts which can and should be public. The tests can be wrote at this level then. Just find the right test seam.

What is the benefit?

The ability to switch implementation details without breaking public functionality. A whole world of refactoring options are available, inline method, extract method, extract class, inline class, replace with library and so forth. As long as the tests pass, you can be confident.


Popular posts from this blog

Three Steps to Code Quality via TDD

Common complaints and problems that I've both encountered and hear other developers raise when it comes to the practice of Test Driven Development are: Impossible to refactor without all the tests breakingMinor changes require hours of changes to test codeTest setup is huge, slow to write and difficult to understandThe use of test doubles (mocks, stubs and fakes is confusing)Over the next three posts I will demonstrate three easy steps that can resolve the problems above. In turn this will allow developers to gain one of the benefits that TDD promises - the ability to refactor your code mercifully in order to improve code quality.StepsStop Making Everything PublicLimit the Amount of Dependencies you Use A Unit is Not Always a Method or ClassCode quality is a tricky subject and highly subjective, however if you follow the three guidelines above you should have the ability to radically change implementation details and therefore improve code quality when needed.

DRY vs DAMP in Tests

In the previous post I mentioned that duplication in tests is not always bad. Sometimes duplication becomes a problem. Tests can become large or virtually identically excluding a few lines. Changes to these tests can take a while and increase the maintenance overhead. At this point, DRY violations need to be resolved.SolutionsTest HelpersA common solution is to extract common functionality into setup methods or other helper utilities. While this will remove and reduce duplication this can make tests a bit harder to read as the test is now split amongst unrelated components. There is a limit to how useful such extractions can help as each test may need to do something slightly differently.DAMP - Descriptive and Meaningful PhrasesDescriptive and Meaningful Phrases is the alter ego of DRY. DAMP tests often use the builder pattern to construct the System Under Test. This allows calls to be chained in a fluent API style, similar to the Page Object Pattern. Internally the implementation wil…

Coding In the Real World

As a student when confronted with a problem, I would end up coding it and thinking - how do the professionals do this?For some reason I had the impression that once I entered the industry I would find enlightenment. Discovering the one true way to write high quality, professional code.It turns out that code in industry is not too far removed from the code I was writing back when I knew very little.Code in the real world can be:messy or cleanhard or easy to understandsimple or complexeasy or hard to changeor any combination of the aboveVery rarely will you be confronted with a problem that is difficult. Most challenges typically are formed around individuals and processes, rather than day to day coding. Years later I finally have the answer. Code in the real world is not that much different to code we were all writing when we first started out.If I could offer myself some advice back in those early days it would be to follow KISS, YAGNI and DRY religiously. The rest will fall into plac…

Feature Toggles

I'm a fan of regular releasing. My background and experience leads me to release as regularly as possible. There are numerous benefits to regular releases; limited risk, slicker release processes and the ability to change as requirements evolve.The problem with this concept is how can you release when features are not functionally complete?SolutionIf there is still work in progress, one solution to allow frequent releases is to use feature toggles. Feature toggles are simple conditional statements that are either enabled or disabled based on some condition.This simple example shows a feature toggle for an "Edit User" feature. If the boolean condition is false, then we only show the "New User" feature and the "Admin" feature. This boolean value will be provided by various means, usually a configuration file. This means at certain points we can change this value in order to demonstrate the "Edit User" functionality. Our demo environment could …

Reused Abstraction Principle

This is the second part of my series on abstractions.Part 1 - AbstractionsPart 3 - Dependency Elimination PrincipleThe Reused Abstraction Principle is a simple in concept in practice, but oddly rarely followed in typical enterprise development. I myself have been incredibly guilty of this in the past.Most code bases have a 1:1 mapping of interfaces to implementations. Usually this is the sign of TDD or automated testing being applied badly. The majority of these interfaces are wrong. 1:1 mappings between interfaces and implementations is a code smell.Such situations are usually the result of extracting an interface from an implementation, rather than having the client drive behaviour.These interfaces are also often bad abstractions, known as "leaky abstractions". As I've discussed previously, these abstractions tend to offer nothing more than simple indirection.ExampleApply the "rule of three". If there is only ever one implementation, then you don't need …