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Grammar on my terms

Object Oriented Functional Design

Aug 18, 2009 - 2 minute read - Comments

While on an interview and talking with a co-worker I had to explain my position on object oriented design. I feel a short blog post is in order.

Objects encapsulate state, like a User class might encapsulate the user name and password of a user. Processes act upon that state, processes shouldn’t create more state, but only manage the state that is required of the program. Processes can be expressed best in a functional programming style, however state can not. State can be managed best by encapsulation into objects, Processes do not benefit from encapsulation. Think of functions as Processes, they usually act upon data with an input and output that needs to be stored somewhere as state, think of objects as the storage of that state. Once we clearly define these relationships, its easy to see a utopia of the 2 concepts is a mix of Object encapsulation for data and state, and functional programming style for the methods that act upon the objects.

There are many contenders, but I’m not quite sure any of the languages today offer this perfect mix of objects and functional mix. In absence of this perfect mix, my goal as a software engineer is to write software in a functional way while at the same time reducing state within the methods and ensuring my methods act only upon the state that is within the object its attached to. Once you start using methods from one object to act upon the state of another object, you might as well not have object encapsulation at all and place the state into global space, as the entire reason you created the objects was to manage the state by using only the methods attached to that object.

This leads to a startling conclusion some might find controversial, Getters and Setters are evil, If you ever think you just cant live without a getter or setter, you may need to rethink your design.