How Much Your Objects Encapsulate?

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Which line do you like more, the first or the second:

new HTTP("http://www.google.com").read();
new HTTP().read("http://www.google.com");

What is the difference? The first class HTTP encapsulates a URL, while the second one expects it as an argument of method read(). Technically, both objects do exactly the same thing: they read the content of the Google home page. Which one is the right design? Usually I hate to say this, but in this case I have to—it depends.

How an Immutable Object Can Have State and Behavior?

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I often hear this argument against immutable objects: "Yes, they are useful when the state doesn't change. However, in our case, we deal with frequently changing objects. We simply can't afford to create a new document every time we just need to change its title." Here is where I disagree: object title is not a state of a document, if you need to change it frequently. Instead, it is a document's behavior. A document can and must be immutable, if it is a good object, even when its title is changed frequently. Let me explain how.

Synchronization Between Nodes

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When two or more software modules are accessing the same resource, they have to be synchronized. This means that only one module at a time should be working with the resource. Without such synchronization, there will be collisions and conflicts. This is especially true when we're talking about "resources" that do not support atomic transactions.

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To solve this issue and prevent conflicts, we have to introduce one more element into the picture. All software modules, before accessing the resource, should capture a lock from a centralized server. Once the manipulations with the resource are complete, the module should release the lock. While the lock is being captured by one module, no other modules will be able to capture it. The approach is very simple and well-known. However, I didn't find any cloud services that would provide such a locking and unlocking service over a RESTful API. So I decided to create one—stateful.co.

ORM Is an Offensive Anti-Pattern

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TL;DR ORM is a terrible anti-pattern that violates all principles of object-oriented programming, tearing objects apart and turning them into dumb and passive data bags. There is no excuse for ORM existence in any application, be it a small web app or an enterprise-size system with thousands of tables and CRUD manipulations on them. What is the alternative? SQL-speaking objects.

Five Principles of Bug Tracking

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A team working remotely requires much stronger discipline than a co-located crew sitting in the same office. First of all, I mean discipline of communications. At teamed.io, we have developed software remotely for the last five years. We manage tasks strictly through ticketing systems (like GitHub, JIRA, Trac, Basecamp, etc.) and discourage any informal communications, like Skype, HipChat, emails, or phone calls. Every ticket for us is an isolated task with its own life cycle, its own participants, and its own goal. Over these years, we've learned a few lessons that I want to share. If you also work remotely with your team, you may find them useful.

Seven Virtues of a Good Object

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Martin Fowler says:

A library is essentially a set of functions that you can call, these days usually organized into classes.

Functions organized into classes? With all due respect, this is wrong. And it is a very common misconception of a class in object-oriented programming. Classes are not organizers of functions. And objects are not data structures.

So what is a "proper" object? Which one is not a proper one? What is the difference? Even though it is a very polemic subject, it is very important. Unless we understand what an object is, how can we write object-oriented software? Well, thanks to Java, Ruby, and others, we can. But how good will it be? Unfortunately, this is not an exact science, and there are many opinions. Here is my list of qualities of a good object.

Hits-of-Code Instead of SLoC

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Lines-of-Code (aka SLoC) is a metric with a terrible reputation. Try to google it yourself and you'll find tons of articles bad-mouthing about its counter-effectiveness and destructiveness for a software development process. The main argument is that we can't measure the progress of programming by the number of lines of code written. Probably the most famous quote is attributed to Bill Gates:

Measuring programming progress by lines of code is like measuring aircraft building progress by weight

Basically, this means that certain parts of the aircraft will take much more effort at the same time being much lighter than others (like a central computer, for example). Instead of measuring the weight of the aircraft we should measure the effort put into it... somehow. So, here is the idea. How about we measure the amount of times programmers touch the lines. Instead of counting the number of lines we'll count how many times they were actually modified—we can get this information from Git (or any other SCM). The more you touch that part of the aircraft—the more effort you spent on it, right?

How Immutability Helps

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In a few recent posts, including "Getters/Setters. Evil. Period." "Objects Should Be Immutable," and "Dependency Injection Containers are Code Polluters," I universally labeled all mutable objects with "setters" (object methods starting with set) evil. My argumentation was based mostly on metaphors and abstract examples. Apparently, this wasn't convincing enough for many of you—I received a few requests asking to provide more specific and practical examples.

Thus, in order to illustrate my strongly negative attitude to "mutability via setters," I took an existing commons-email Java library from Apache and re-designed it my way, without setters and with "object thinking" in mind. I released my library as part of the jcabi family—jcabi-email. Let's see what benefits we get from a "pure" object-oriented and immutable approach, without getters.

An Empty Line is a Code Smell

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The subject may sound like a joke, but it is not. An empty line, used as a separator of instructions in an object method, is a code smell. Why? In short, because a method should not contain "parts." A method should always do one thing and its functional decomposition should be done by language constructs (for example, new methods), and never by empty lines.

How Much Do You Cost?

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I'm getting a few emails every day from programmers interested in working with Teamed.io remotely. The first question I usually ask is "what is your rate?" (we pay by the hour) What surprises me is how often people incorrectly estimate themselves, in both directions.

I hear very different numbers, from $5 to $500 per hour. I never say no, but usually come up with my own hourly rate estimate. This article explains what factors I do and don't take into account. These are my personal criteria; don't take them as an industry standard. I do find them objective and logical, though—so let me explain.