Not Following API Guidelines Has Impact
Posted by bsstahl on 2016-01-25 and Filed Under: development
Good API design requires the developer to return responses that provide useful and understandable information to the consumers of the API. To effectively communicate with the consumers, these responses must utilize standards that are known to the developers who will be using them. For .NET APIs, these standards include:
- Implementing IDisposable on all objects that need disposal.
- Throwing a NotImplementedException if a method is on the interface and is expected to be available in the future, but is not yet available for any reason.
- Throwing an ArgumentException or ArgumentNullException as appropriate to indicate that bad input has been supplied to a method.
- Throwing an InvalidOperationException if the use of a method is inappropriate or otherwise unavailable in the current context.
One thing that should absolutely not be done is returning a NULL from a method call unless the NULL is a valid result of the method, based on the provided input.
I have spent the last few weeks working with a new vendor API. In general, the implementation of their API has been good, but it is clear that .NET is not their primary framework. This API does 2 things that have made it more difficult than necessary for me to work with the product:
- Disposable objects don’t implement IDisposable. As a result, I cannot simply wrap these objects in a Using statement to handle disposal when they go out of scope.
- Several mathematical operators were overloaded, but some of them were implemented simply by returning a NULL. As a result:
- I had to decompile their API assembly to determine if I was doing something wrong.
- I am still unable to tell if this is a permanent thing or if the feature will be implemented in a future release.
Please follow all API guidelines for the language or framework you are targeting whenever it is reasonable and possible to do so.
Are you Ready for the Next Episode?
Posted by bsstahl on 2015-06-29 and Filed Under: development
While this was an interesting and somewhat novel approach, it turned out to have a few fairly significant drawbacks:
- Using this hybrid approach meant there were two runtimes that had to be initialized and operating during execution, a costly drain on system resources, especially for mobile devices.
- Applications built using this methodology would run well on Windows 8 and 8.1 machines, as well as Windows Phone devices, but not on the web, or on Android or iDevices.
So, it seems that it is time for me to move to a more standard front-end development stack. I need one that is cross-platform, ideally providing a good deployment story for web, PC, tablet & phone, and supporting all major platforms including Android, iDevices & Windows phones and tablets. It also needs to be standards-based, and work using popular frameworks so that my apps can be kept up-to-date with the latest technology.
I’ll keep you informed of my progress and let you know if this does indeed turn out to be the best way for me to build apps. Stay tuned.
Conflict of Interest -- YAGNI vs. Standardization
Posted by bsstahl on 2014-07-28 and Filed Under: development
While working on the OSS project mentioned in my previous post, I have run across a dilemma where two of the principles I try to work by are in conflict. The two principles in question are:
- YAGNI - You aint gonna need it, which prescribes not coding anything unless the need already exists. This principle is a core of Test Driven Development of which I am a practitioner and a strong proponent.
- Standardization - Where components, especially those built for use by other developers, are implemented in a common way in order to shorten the learning curve of future developers who will use the component and to reduce implementation bugs.
I have run across this type of decision many times before and have noted the following:
- YAGNI is usually correct, if you don't need it now, you are unlikely to need it in the future.
- Standard implementations which are built incompletely tend to be implemented badly later because there tends to be more time pressure further along into projects, and because it is often implemented by someone other than the original programmer who may not be as familiar with the pattern.
- The fact that there is less time pressure early in projects is another great reason to respect YAGNI because if we are always writing unnecessary code early in projects, a project can quickly become late.
- Implementing code that is not currently required by the use-cases being built requires the addition of unit tests that are specific to the underlying functionality rather than user requested features. While often valuable, the very fact that we are writing such tests is a code smell.
- Since I use FxCop Code Analysis built-in to Visual Studio, not supplying all features of a standard implementation may require overriding one or more analysis rules.
Taking all of this into account, the simplest solution (which is usually the best) is to override the FxCop rules in the code, and continue without implementing the unneeded, albeit standard features.
Do you disagree with my decision? Tell me why on Twitter @bsstahl.