Object model

My story with OOP begins in childhood when I was struggling with my despair in school. Long story short, I got my hands dirty with dotnet, and I liked it at the moment. By the end of school years I'd tried lots of things: from network programming with sockets to games with XNA to UI with WPF to webdev with aspnet mvc. I was messing around mostly, and it was all rather childish. But the thing is I got quite familiar with the environment and concepts. I loved it. MSDN was my holybook. Most importantly, I considered myself an adept of OOP. Now I reproach all of that and here's why.

I will try and not rant on Microsoft and the proprietary software. Instead I'll focus on OOP.

I can see two basic approaches to the Object Model or rather two different Object Models: - Structure on sets. - Interacting entities.


The first approach is the Light Side of the Force. It is built around the idea of endowing Sets with Structure, i.e. relations and functions. If a mathematician would reffer to a set together with a structure on it as to a Space, an OOP adept would call it a Class or a type of Object. Object here is simply an element of a space. The process of grouping sets and structure is known as incapsulation.

Interacting entities

The second way is a way of the Dark Side. It's a model of interacting entities. Here objects are mysterious entities that act with their functions on their states. They can share behaviour with the use of inheritance. I'm not mentioning the principles like polymorphism here as they aren't really specific to nor distinguishing for this model.

I don't imply that local interactions is a bad idea: actually it's a great idea, but you must take care of... convergence of some sort. I say it's a dark path because it's easily followed uncounsciously. And when it's followed so it leads to misinterpretations, to the cargo cult, and, above all, to errors.

Inheritance is useless

Inheritance is a means to implement polymorphic behaviour, no more. In this context almost always the Inheritance is overused and only makes a system more complex: it either can be replaced with composition or even stripped away. The main problem though is that it's tempting to use inheritance to describe hierarchies, although there's no practical reason to. A classic example is that of a square and a rectangle: the first is a particular case of the latter but the setWidth() of a Square should either violate what we expect from a Rectangle or return a non-square.

Another use of inheritance is for Mixins. While it's an acceptable use it's still an overuse. My belief is that one can replace it all with plain datastructures.

OOP as an instance of cargo cult

Or a way to avoid solving the problem.

The main grudge of mine against the OOP is that it introduces a lot of unmotivated concepts which have been taken for granted by the mainstream and are being applied to every single problem. People started modeling data with interacting objects! How do you start building a web service in some java or, say, django? You describe models (which aren't actually models) using classes which inherit from ORM-framework's base types (from django.db.models or javax.persistence). These quasi-models then need to be mapped into the relational ones. This mapping causes some additional conceptual difficulties and also poorly affect the performance. Some time later you'll have to fix the performance. How are you going to achieve that? You'll write custom queries which will take into account the relational nature of data. Moreover, sooner or later you'll find out that a typical RDBMS's model is rather stripped and incomplete because of some dogmata and myths associated with the relational model (I'll write on that later). One can find much more points to this topic by googling "object-relational impedance mismatch" or something.

Shall we dig a bit deeper we'll realize that not only there's a mismatch between applications' data model and persistence-layer's model, but also a mismatch betwixt application and the presentation layer. For what it is that frontend expects from the application? A REST api for WEB or plain datastructures for a standalone application that relies on data-bindings. Not a "bunch of interacting entities" at all

The only part left is the domain logic the vast part of which consists of all kinds of constraints. Ideally we'd like to write just a specification of these constraints and then use it for both validation and input-suggestions.

To sum up: the object model isn't how we store data, nor how we serve data to the end-user nor even how we'd like to modify and validate data.

Basically the coders are writing lots of code which doesn't produce any additional value. That happens because it is convenient to follow the routine: write resource classes, write the services, generate the sql and the REST endpoints, write some tests, proceed as usual. This process doesn't really involve thinking. Convenient indeed. The only caveat: people produce erroneous unmaintanable shite which somehow keeps working as long as an employer keeps paying the employee. It may seem feasible given that modern society is all built on deprecated, unsustainable, and self-destructive methods. It may so far but there's a line. We haven't reached it yet and we can't see it, but that doesn't mean it isn't here.

When object model makes sense

Of course "interacting entities" can be useful too. For example they are sure useful when it comes to modeling a system that consists of... stateful interacting components! Usually that happens at at lower layers; at he level of architecture. E.g. in the components that manage the lifecycle of an application. Yet even there the functional approach is coming.


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