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{ Category Archives } OOP

Getting better at doing it wrong

For around a month at the end of last year, I kept a long text note called “doing doing it wrong right”. I was trying to understand error handling in programming, look at some common designs and work out a plan for cleaning up some error-handling code I was working with myself (mercifully someone else, […]

Hiding behind messages

A problem I think about every so often is how to combine the software design practice of hiding implementations behind interfaces with the engineering practice of parallel execution. What are the trade-offs between making parallelism explicit and information hiding? Where are some lines that can be drawn? Why do we need abstractions for this stuff, […]

Fun and games (with rewritten rules) in Objective-C

An object-oriented programming environment is not a set of rules. Programs do not need to be constructed according to the rules supplied by the environment. An object-oriented environment includes tools for constructing new rules, and programs can use these to good effect. Let’s build multiple method inheritance for Objective-C, to see a new set of […]


Sadly it’s not called Schoenfinkeling, but that’s the name of the person who noticed that there’s no reason to ever have a function with more than one argument. What you think is a function with two arguments is actually a function with one argument that returns a function with one argument, this second function closing […]

A subtle [mis]understanding of monads

As I said when talking about Learning Phases, one of the things that happens when I’m trying to learn a new thing is that I build an analogy in terms of something I do understand. This can be dangerous when the analogy is wrong. I’m currently hanging on to the analogy that follows, so I’m […]

Object-Oriented Programming in 1714

Here are some excerpts from Leibniz’s La Monadologie (specifically from Daniel Garber and Roger Arlew’s English translation in Discourse on Metaphysics and Other Essays). THE MONAD, which we shall discuss here, is nothing but a simple substance that enters into composites – simple, that is, without parts. Thus, one can say that monads can only […]

Reversing the polarity of the message flow

On receiving a message with a parameter, sometimes an object just reverses the sense of what just happened and sends another message to the parameter object with itself as the parameter of this message. That’s a pretty hard sentence to read, but I couldn’t work out how to rewrite it, so here’s an example. A […]

The Humpty-Dumpty Guide to OOP

Everybody knows that the best way to sound intellectual and demonstrate the superiority of your approach to that thing you do is to wrap it in a fancy-schmancy noun term. This works particularly well with a term that can be expressed as a three-letter acronym, or TLA. In programming we have a whole raft of […]

Contractually-obligated testing

About a billion years ago, Bertrand Meyer (he of Open-Closed Principle fame) introduced a programming language called Eiffel. It had a feature called Design by Contract, that let you define constraints that your program had to adhere to in execution. Like you can convince C compilers to emit checks for rules like integer underflow everywhere […]

I use mocks and I’m happy with that

Both Kent Beck and Martin Fowler have said that they don’t use mock objects in their test-driven development. I do. I use them mostly for the sense described first in my BNR blog post on Mock Objects, namely to stand in for a thing that can receive messages I want to send, but that does […]