Gaël Varoquaux

Wed 01 July 2009

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Object-oriented design: framework objects versus data containers

I find that in object oriented design, there are two kinds of objects:

  • A first kind is the object encoding logics. This is an object for which clever and complex design will hold together the logics of a state-full application. It can often be part of a forest of objects that are linked together via design patterns. The interfaces of these objects are driven by their active role in the application. These objects are prominently present in interactive application and interactive application. They are mostly particular to an application or a framework, and are mostly implementation-defined.
  • The second type of object is a data container. It strives to expose a data model that can be of use in various situations, as it is the link between different parts of the code that do not talk to each other apart through data. It is responsible for loose coupling (something that is very important to achieve a maintainable code base) by having a light and shallow interface. It must be interfaced-designed, rather than implementation-designed. One should very easily get a grasp, an almost physical feeling, for the object by simple interaction with it. I have what I call the ‘explaining test’ for these objects: can I explain fully and completely to somebody what the object does, and any possible caveat, without being sidetracked into special discussions? If not, back to the drawing board: the object will not gain acceptance. In my experience, only the objects of the second kind can easily be shared between different projects.
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