Skip to main content

Reducing Conditional Logic to a Single Location

My Anti If Campaign post still generates a lot of questions and discussion. In summary:

  • Conditional statements are not bad. They are a core programming construct.
  • If you are working in an OO language, type checks are probably not the best solution to your problem. Rely on polymorphism.
  • You need to perform conditional checks somewhere. In my first example the conditional check was pushed into routing. The conditional statement in this case had been offloaded to the consumer.

A recent real world example was refactored which highlighted the points previously, but inverts the problem and solution. How do you remove conditional statements if your system itself has to make the decisions internally?

Example

The simplified example shows the result of invoking a third party service. This result contained a flag indicating either success or failure. Effectively there were two hidden types here. Finally the result was returned based on the HTTP status code.

After the result of the third party call, the domain would decide how to respond.

Both the client and the domain logic was split over multiple source files. This made noticing the duplication tricky. Both the client and the domain also knew the fact that the result of the third party call can succeed or fail.

Sadly the domain violates the SRP at a method level. While not a requirement yet, if further status codes are required or the contents of responses controlled flow, we are in trouble. The type flag would need to evolve from a boolean to something more complex. The contents of the responses may also need to be provided. This solution could leak HTTP details down into the domain unless careful.

Solution

Recognise the boolean flag is actually hidden two types. Remove the flag and introduce a concrete type for each path. Each concrete type performs the right operation. In this case executing the relevant methods within the domain.

Each concrete type is easy to test, change or throw away. In this example an interface is provided. This contains just the necessary methods that the process requires. The domain is now simplified. The domain instance itself is simply provided as an argument. The concrete instance of each result will perform the right operation.

Benefits

  • Now possible to add and remove additional redemption handling easily.
  • The procedural code remains on the boundary of the system. There is no need to try an use OO concepts here. Keep it simple.
  • The domain becomes flexible and removes the procedural checks. OO concepts can be applied as much as you like here.
  • The redemption service works with anything that can play the role of a redeemer. Open to refactoring.

Closing

Stick the procedural code on the edge of your system and be done with it. Just ensure that you only perform such checks once.

Just because you are not performing explicit type checks, the use of boolean flags usually indicates at least two hidden types.

The anti if campaign is not the removal of all conditional checks. They need to happen somewhere. Just try to limit them.

Comments

  1. Great stuff. I really like the "Anti if campaign" articles. Keep the articles coming.

    Thanks,
    Anders

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi, it would be nice to have some code examples in the topic. I am looking forward to seeing next post about "Anti if campaign"

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Constant Object Anti Pattern

Most constants are used to remove magic numbers or variables that lack context. A classic example would be code littered with the number 7. What does this refer to exactly? If this was replaced with DaysInWeek or similar, much clarity is provided. You can determine that code performing offsets would be adding days, rather than a mysterious number seven.Sadly a common pattern which uses constants is the use of a single constant file or object. The beauty of constants is clarity, and the obvious fact such variables are fixed. When a constant container is used, constants are simply lumped together. These can grow in size and often become a dumping ground for all values within the application.A disadvantage of this pattern is the actual value is hidden. While a friendly variable name is great, there will come a time where you will want to know the actual value. This forces you to navigate, if only to peek at the value within the constant object. A solution is to simple perform a refactor …

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…