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by Meilir Page-Jones

Adapted from Fundamentals of Object-Oriented Design in UML. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. See below for copyright notice.

"You say you want some evolution. Well, you know, I'm doing what I can."
-- Charles Darwin,
On the Origin of Species

People who reviewed this book in its draft form had several questions for me, questions that perhaps you share. Let me address some of them.

I'm a programmer. Why should I care about design?

Everyone who writes code also designs code -- either well or badly, either consciously or unconsciously. My goal in writing this book is to encourage O.O. professionals -- and their number increases annually -- to create good object-oriented designs consciously and prior to coding. To this end, I introduce notation, principles, and terminology that you and your colleagues can use to evaluate your designs and to discuss them meaningfully with one another.

Will this book teach me an O.O. programming language?

No. Although I occasionally swoop down close to code, this isn't a book on object-oriented programming.

But if I'm learning an object-oriented language, will this book help?

Yes, it will. If you don't currently know an object-oriented programming language, you can begin your object-oriented knowledge with Chapter 1. Knowing the key concepts of object orientation will speed your learning an object-oriented language and, I hope, boost your morale as you move into unfamiliar territory. The later chapters of the book, on sound design, will also help you in getting your early programs to work successfully.

On the other hand, if you're already an experienced object-oriented programmer, you can use Parts II and III of the book to enhance the design skills that are vital to your being a rounded, professional software designer or programmer.

Why aren't the code examples in this book in C++?

I've written the code in this book in a language of my own devising, which is a blend of four popular languages: C++, Eiffel, Java, and Smalltalk. I did this because there are two kinds of programmers: those who are fluent in C++ and those who aren't. If you're a C++ aficionado, then you'll find the code a breeze to translate into C++. If you're not familiar with C++, then you might have found the language's arcane syntax distracting. Some examples are given in Java because it's more accessible to a non-Java programmer than C++ is to a non-C++ programmer. I'd like you to feel welcome in this book whatever your programming language might be.

Why isn't this book devoted to the design of windows, icons, and menus?

There are two reasons: First, I don't believe that object orientation is useful only for the design of graphical user interfaces. Second, there are many books on the market devoted solely to the topic of object-oriented window design. I want this book to cover topics that are not well covered by other object-oriented books. However, in Chapter 7, I offer some notation for window-navigation design.

Is this book about a methodology?

No. As you know, a development methodology contains much more than design. For example, there's requirements analysis, library management, and so on. Also, a true methodology needs to explain how the various development activities fit together. A lot of stuff!

So, instead of turning out a book as diffuse as many other books on object orientation, I decided to focus on a single topic: object-oriented design.

You've said a lot about what this book isn't about. What is it about?

It's about the fundamental ideas, notation, terminology, criteria, and principles of object-oriented software design. Object-oriented software is software that comprises objects and the classes to which they belong. An object is a software construct in which operations (which are like functions or procedures) are organized around a set of variables (which are like data). A class implements a type that defines the group of objects belonging to that class.

The above modest sentences hold some surprising implications for software designers and programmers, implications that arise from the design concepts of inheritance, polymorphism, and second-order design. But, since you asked a specific question, let me give you a specific answer.

Part I of the book (Chapters 1 and 2) provides an introduction to object orientation. Chapter 1 summarizes the key concepts and demystifies "polymorphism," "genericity," and all the other O.O. jargon. Chapter 2 sets object orientation into the framework of previous developments in software. If you're already familiar with object orientation (perhaps by having programmed in an object-oriented language), then you can skip or skim Part I.

Part II (Chapters 3 to 7) covers Unified Modeling Language (UML), which has become the de facto standard notation for depicting object-oriented design. In passing, Part II also illustrates many of the structures that you find in object-oriented systems. Chapter 3 introduces UML for depicting classes, along with their attributes and operations. Chapter 4 covers UML for associations, aggregate and composite objects, and hierarchies of subclasses and superclasses. Chapter 5 sets out UML for messages (both sequential and asynchronous), while Chapter 6 covers UML for state diagrams. Chapter 7 reviews UML for system architecture and the windows that form a human interface.

Part III (Chapters 8 to 14) covers object-oriented design principles in some depth. Chapter 8 sets the scene with the crucial notions of connascence and level-2 encapsulation. Chapter 9 explores the various domains that "classes come from" and describes different degrees of class cohesion. Chapters 10 and 11 are the central pillars of Part III, applying the concepts of state-space and behavior to assess when a class hierarchy is both sound and extendable.

Chapter 12 offers some light relief, as it examines designs taken from real projects, including both the subtle and the absurd. (Chapter 12 is really about the dangers of abusing inheritance and polymorphism.) Chapter 13 looks at some ways of organizing operations within a given class, and it explains design techniques, such as mix-in classes and operation rings, that will improve class reusability and maintainability.

Chapter 14 takes a stab at the old question: "What makes a good class?" In answering this question, Chapter 14 describes the various kinds of class interface, ranging from the horrid to the sublime. A class with an exemplary interface will be a worthy implementation of an abstract data-type. If the class also obeys the fundamental principles laid out in earlier chapters, then it will be as robust, reliable, extensible, reusable, and maintainable as a class can ever be.

Chapter 15 rounds off the book by examining the characteristics, together with the advantages and disadvantages, of software components. In tracing the development of an object-oriented component for a business application, I recall some of the object-oriented principles of the previous chapters.

Although I've added plenty of examples, diagrams, and exercises to reinforce what I say in the main text, I must admit that the material in Part III gets tough at times. Nevertheless, I decided not to trivialize or dilute important issues. Some aspects of object-oriented design are difficult and to suggest otherwise would be misleading.

Does this book cover everything in object-oriented design?

I very much doubt it. Each day, I learn more about object orientation, and I'm sure you do, too. Indeed, it would be a dull world if a single book could tell us everything about object-oriented design and leave us with nothing more to learn. And not everything in this book may be completely true! I certainly changed my mind about one or two things after writing my previous books, as I became older and wiser -- well older, anyway.

So, although I think that I've covered many important design principles in this book, if you're serious about object orientation you should continue to read as much as you can and always challenge what you read.

Do you offer courses on object-oriented design?

Yes. My firm, Wayland Systems, offers several courses on object-oriented topics. Our curriculum continually changes, so check out www.waysys.com for our latest offerings.

Bottom-line, as they say: Is this book for me?

What kind of question is that? You expect me to say, "No!"? But seriously, folks, this book's for you if you are -- or are about to become -- a programmer, designer, systems engineer, or technical manager on a project using object-oriented techniques. Even if you're a beginner to object orientation, you can glean a lot from this book by reading Part I, practicing some object-oriented programming, and then returning to Parts II and III.

You should also read this book if you're a university student or professional programmer who has mastered the techniques of standard procedural programming and is looking for wider horizons. Much of the book's material is suitable for a final-year computer-science or software-engineering course in object orientation.

But, whatever your role in life, I hope that you enjoy this book and find it useful. Good luck!

September 1999

Meilir Page-Jones

Bellevue, Washington

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COPYRIGHT NOTICE: This excerpt from Fundamentals of Object-Oriented Design in UML [ISBN:0201-69946-X] appears by permission of Dorset House Publishing. Copyright © 2000 by Meilir Page-Jones . All rights reserved. See http://www.dorsethouse.com/books/fundood.html. The material contained in this file may be shared for noncommercial purposes only, nonexclusively, provided that this Copyright Notice always appears with it. This material may not be combined with advertisements, online or in print, without explicit permission from Dorset House Publishing. For copies of the printed book or for permissions, contact Dorset House Publishing, 1-800-342-6657, 212-620-4053, http://www.dorsethouse.com, info@dorsethouse.com, New: 3143 Broadway, Suite 2B, New York, NY 10027 USA. Additional rights limitations apply, as presented in the Legal Disclaimer posted at http://www.dorsethouse.com/legal.html.



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