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principles:principle_of_separate_understandability [2013-06-19 12:41]
christian [Description Status]
principles:principle_of_separate_understandability [2014-07-02 19:42] (current)
christian SLA
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 /* fill in contexts here: */ /* fill in contexts here: */
   * [[contexts:​Object-Oriented Design]] ​   * [[contexts:​Object-Oriented Design]] ​
 +  * [[contexts:​Implementation]]
  
 ===== Principle Statement ===== ===== Principle Statement =====
  
-Each module shall be understandable on its own -- without knowing anything about other modules.+Each module shall be understandable on its own---without knowing anything about other modules.
  
  
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 PSU means that: PSU means that:
 +  * By looking at a class its purpose should be clear.
   * By looking at the public methods of a class it should be clear why they are there. That means there should be no method that is only there because a specific other module needs it.   * By looking at the public methods of a class it should be clear why they are there. That means there should be no method that is only there because a specific other module needs it.
   * By looking at the implementation of a module it should be clear how it works and why it was done that way. That means there should be no code that is solely there in order to make another module work.   * By looking at the implementation of a module it should be clear how it works and why it was done that way. That means there should be no code that is solely there in order to make another module work.
-  * By looking at a private method it should be clear what it does. That means there should be no (private) method that is only meaningful in the context of another method. +  * By looking at a private method it should be clear what it does. That means there should be no (private) method that is only meaningful in the context of another method ​(see [[#Example 2: Dependent Private Methods|example 2]])
 +  * By looking at a method invocation it should be clear what happens, why the parameters are there, and what they specify. It should not be necessary to look up the method implementation (see [[#Example 3: Unnecessary State and Wrong Abstractions|example 3]]). 
 +  * By looking at a single line of code it should be clear what it does without having to look up other code.
  
 ===== Rationale ===== ===== Rationale =====
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 When a module is separately understandable,​ it is easier to maintain, as no other modules have to be considered during maintenance. It is furthermore more testable, as a unit test can easily test only this particular module without requiring integration with other modules. When a module is separately understandable,​ it is easier to maintain, as no other modules have to be considered during maintenance. It is furthermore more testable, as a unit test can easily test only this particular module without requiring integration with other modules.
  
-Another point of view is that violation ​of PSU either means that a part of the functionality does not belong ​to that module or the module has the wrong abstractionSo this is a sign of a design that needs improvement.+An important ​ aspect ​of PSU is readability or rather understandability. If module---say a method---requires to understand several other modules (other methods, the usage of certain attributes, the idea of the whole class, ...), much larger ​part of the code has to be read and kept in memory. And if a method call is not separately understandable,​ the reader of the code will have to jump to the implementation of the method in order to see what's going onThis is unnecessarily time consuming: ​
  
 +  * You have to find the implementation and jump there (modern IDEs help here but it takes time nevertheless)
 +  * While doing so, you have to memorize the call and the context of the call. If implementation and call are not colocated (which is preferable but not always possible) you won't see the call anymore so you have to memorize it.
 +  * Then you have to read the code and [[glossary:​mental inlining|mentally inline]] it.
 +  * If you could not memorize everything, you might have to jump back and forth to do the job.
 +  * After you did all that you have to jump back and continue reading the method with the call you just mentally inlined.
 +
 +In a nutshell, if you have to mentally inline code, it would have been better if it was already inlined. The [[refactorings:​extract method|method extraction]] in fact was harmful to readability and not beneficial. Note that not extracting a method needn'​t be the best solution to the problem. Often renaming the extracted method already does the job. Maybe this also hints that not the right piece of code has been extracted.
 +
 +Another point of view is that a violation of PSU either means that a part of the functionality does not belong to that module or the module has the wrong abstraction. So this is a sign of a design that needs improvement.
  
 ===== Strategies ===== ===== Strategies =====
  
-When a module does not comply with PSU, this means that either a part of the functionality of the module does not belong here or the module has the wrong abstraction. So strategies for making a solution more compliant with PSU are:+When a module does not comply with PSU, this means that either a part of the functionality of the module does not belong here (see [[#Example 1: Parsing Data|example 1]]) or the module has the wrong abstraction ​([[#Example 3: Unnecessary State and Wrong Abstractions|example 3]]). So strategies for making a solution more compliant with PSU are:
  
-  * Move the conflicting functionality to another module where it fits better (see [[Tell don't Ask/​Information Expert|IE]],​ [[High Cohesion|HC]],​ and [[Model Principle|MP]]). +  * Move the conflicting functionality to another module where it fits better: [[refactorings:​Move Field]], [[refactorings:​Move Method]] ​(see [[Tell don't Ask/​Information Expert|IE]],​ [[High Cohesion|HC]],​ and [[Model Principle|MP]]). 
-  * Build up a new module for the conflicting functionality (see [[High Cohesion|HC]]).+  * Build up a new module for the conflicting functionality: [[refactorings:​Extract Method]], [[refactorings:​Extract Class]] ​(see [[High Cohesion|HC]]).
   * Find the right abstraction for the module that allows the functionality to stay here (see [[Model Principle|MP]]).   * Find the right abstraction for the module that allows the functionality to stay here (see [[Model Principle|MP]]).
 +  * Find a name which properly describes the abstraction of the module: [[refactorings:​Rename Module]] ([[Model Principle|MP]]).
  
 ===== Caveats ===== ===== Caveats =====
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   * [[Tell, don't Ask/​Information Expert]] (TdA/IE): At its heart PSU is about responsibility assignment. When a module is not separately understandable,​ this means that a responsibility is scattered across several modules. TdA/IE gives another aspect of responsibility assignment.   * [[Tell, don't Ask/​Information Expert]] (TdA/IE): At its heart PSU is about responsibility assignment. When a module is not separately understandable,​ this means that a responsibility is scattered across several modules. TdA/IE gives another aspect of responsibility assignment.
   * [[Low Coupling]] (LC): Not adhering to PSU means that responsibilities are scattered across several modules. This typically also means increased coupling.   * [[Low Coupling]] (LC): Not adhering to PSU means that responsibilities are scattered across several modules. This typically also means increased coupling.
 +  * [[Single Level of Abstraction]] (SLA): The purpose of PSU is to avoid [[glossary:​mental inlining]]. SLA on the other hand is about the avoiding the opposite: [[glossary:​mental grouping]].
  
 ==== Principle Collections ==== ==== Principle Collections ====
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   * First version: see ((http://​www.objectmentor.com/​resources/​articles/​xpepisode.htm)) or ((Robert C. Martin: //Agile Software Development,​ Principles, Patterns, and Practices//​))   * First version: see ((http://​www.objectmentor.com/​resources/​articles/​xpepisode.htm)) or ((Robert C. Martin: //Agile Software Development,​ Principles, Patterns, and Practices//​))
   * Second version: see ((http://​butunclebob.com/​ArticleS.UncleBob.TheBowlingGameKata)) or ((http://​www.slideshare.net/​lalitkale/​bowling-game-kata-by-robert-c-martin))   * Second version: see ((http://​butunclebob.com/​ArticleS.UncleBob.TheBowlingGameKata)) or ((http://​www.slideshare.net/​lalitkale/​bowling-game-kata-by-robert-c-martin))
 +
 +
 +==== Example 3: Unnecessary State and Wrong Abstractions ====
 +
 +This example is also inspired by Robert C. Martin. Have a look at the following piece of code from [[resources:​Clean Code]]:
 +<code java>
 +public String make(char candidate, int count)
 +{
 +    createPluralDependentMessageParts(count);​
 +    return String.format("​There %s %s %s%s", verb, number, candidate, pluralModifier);​
 +}
 +</​code>​
 +What does it do? Certainly some information is missing to answer this question. This piece of code is not separately understandable. You might feel the urge to ask for the implementation of ''​createPluralDependentMessageParts''​ as especially this method call is not separately understandable. OK, here it is:
 +
 +<code java>
 +private void createPluralDependentMessageParts(int count)
 +{
 +    if (count == 0)
 +    {
 +        thereAreNoLetters();​
 +    }
 +    else if (count == 1)
 +    {
 +        thereIsOneLetter();​
 +    }
 +    else
 +    {
 +        thereAreManyLetters(count);​
 +    }
 +}
 +</​code>​
 +
 +Again, you most likely won't be satisfied and ask for the rest of the implementation:​
 +
 +<code java>
 +public class Statistics2
 +{
 +     ​public static void main(String...args)
 +     {
 +         ​GuessStatisticsMessage statistics = new GuessStatisticsMessage();​
 +         ​System.out.println(statistics.make('​d',​ 0));
 +         ​System.out.println(statistics.make('​d',​ 1));
 +         ​System.out.println(statistics.make('​d',​ 25));
 +     }
 +
 +     ​static class GuessStatisticsMessage
 +     {
 +         ​private String number;
 +         ​private String verb;
 +         ​private String pluralModifier;​
 +
 +         ​public String make(char candidate, int count)
 +         {
 +             ​createPluralDependentMessageParts(count);​
 +             ​return String.format("​There %s %s %s%s", verb, number, candidate, pluralModifier);​
 +         }
 +
 +         ​private void createPluralDependentMessageParts(int count)
 +         {
 +             if (count == 0)
 +             {
 +                 ​thereAreNoLetters();​
 +             }
 +             else if (count == 1)
 +             {
 +                 ​thereIsOneLetter();​
 +             }
 +             else
 +             {
 +                 ​thereAreManyLetters(count);​
 +             }
 +         }
 +
 +         ​private void thereAreNoLetters()
 +         {
 +             ​number = "​no";​
 +             verb = "​are";​
 +             ​pluralModifier = "​s";​
 +         }
 +
 +         ​private void thereIsOneLetter()
 +         {
 +             ​number = "​1";​
 +             verb = "​is";​
 +             ​pluralModifier = "";​
 +         }
 +
 +         ​private void thereAreManyLetters(int count)
 +         {
 +             ​number = Integer.toString(count);​
 +             verb = "​are";​
 +             ​pluralModifier = "​s";​
 +         }
 +     }
 +}
 +</​code>​
 +
 +Only if you read all that code, you really get what's going on. Also if you started with some other method, you would not understand it. It's clear what ''​thereIsOneLetter()''​ does as the code is trivial. But you cannot understand //why// that code is there without knowing the rest. 
 +
 +The problem cannot be solved by moving or renaming methods or fields. The abstraction of the methods is wrong. The methods are just groupings of code and have no distinct meaning. The uncommon naming scheme of the methods lacking an imperative form of a verb might be an indicator for that. 
 +
 +The functionality is buried in the class which is most obvious with the ''​pluralModifier''​. This value is used to construct a plural form by appending it to another value in the ''​String.format''​ statement. The concept of making a plural form is not present in the code. Rather the code centers around assigning values to variables.
 +
 +A better solution might be the following:
 +
 +<code java>
 +public class Statistics3
 +{
 +     enum Number {SINGULAR, PLURAL}
 +
 +     ​public static void main(String...args)
 +     {
 +         ​Statistics3 statistics = new Statistics3();​
 +         ​System.out.println(statistics.composeGuessStatistics('​d',​ 0));
 +         ​System.out.println(statistics.composeGuessStatistics('​d',​ 1));
 +         ​System.out.println(statistics.composeGuessStatistics('​d',​ 25));
 +     }
 +
 +     ​private String composeGuessStatistics(char candidate, int count)
 +     {
 +         ​Number number = requiresPluralForm(count) ? Number.PLURAL : Number.SINGULAR;​
 +         ​return String.format("​There %s %s %s", thirdFormOfToBe(number),​ countToString(count), ​
 +                 ​declineLetter(candidate,​ number));
 +     }
 +
 +     ​private boolean requiresPluralForm(int count)
 +     {
 +         ​return count != 1;
 +     }
 +
 +     ​private String thirdFormOfToBe(Number number)
 +     {
 +         ​return number == Number.SINGULAR ? "​is"​ : "​are";​
 +     }
 +
 +     ​private String countToString(int count)
 +     {
 +         ​return count == 0 ? "​no"​ : Integer.toString(count);​
 +     }
 +
 +     ​private String declineLetter(char letter, Number number)
 +     {
 +         ​return number == Number.SINGULAR ? Character.toString(letter) : letter + "​s";​
 +     }
 +}
 +</​code>​
 +
 +Here virtually every piece of code is understandable on its own. 
  
 ===== Description Status ===== ===== Description Status =====
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 ===== Further Reading ===== ===== Further Reading =====
  
 +  * [[http://​www.christian-rehn.de/​2013/​10/​06/​clean-code-und-das-principle-of-separate-understandability/​|Clean Code und das Principle of Separate Understandability]]:​ Example 3 in more detail (German)
 +
 +===== Discussion =====
  
 +Discuss this wiki article and the principle on the corresponding [[talk:​principles:​Principle Of Separate Understandability|talk page]].
principles/principle_of_separate_understandability.1371638512.txt.gz · Last modified: 2013-06-19 12:41 by christian