TITLE: Relationships, Not Characters AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: November 02, 2010 11:00 AM DESC: ----- BODY: Early in his book "Impro", Keith Johnstone quotes playwright Edward Bond to the effect:
Drama is is about relationships, not about characters.
This immediately brought to mind Alan Kay's insistence that object-oriented programmers too often focus so much on the objects in their programmers that they lose sight of something more important: the space between the objects. A few years ago, I wrote about this idea in an entry called Software in Negative Space. It remains one of my most-read articles. The secret to good OO design is in the ma, the web of relationships that make up a complex system, not in the objects themselves. I think this is probably true of good design in any style, because it is really about how complex systems can manage and use encapsulation. The very best OO design patterns show us how multiple objects interact via message passing to resolve a thorny set of forces. The individual objects don't solve the problem; the solution lies in their interfaces and delegation of responsibility. We need to think about our designs at that level, too. Now that functional programming is receiving so much mainstream attention, this is a good time to think about when and how good functional design is about relationships, not (just) functions. A combinator is an example: the particular functions are not as important as they way they hook together to solve a bigger problem. Designing functions in this style requires thinking more about the interfaces that expose abstractions to the world, and how other modules use them as service, and less about their implementation. Relationships. -----