C. Keith Ray

C. Keith Ray writes about and develops software in multiple platforms and languages, including iOS® and Macintosh®.
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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Reuse and Modularity

(Originally posted 2003.Apr.02 Wed; links may have expired.)

TWELVE|71 wrote a bit about reuse and modularity. "Modularity is the idea of having a tire that can be swapped on and off without affecting the car. Reuse is the idea that we can take a tire from an old car and use it without thought on a new car."

Off the top of my head, I think software reuse projects often fail because (1) the needs of all the client projects are not considered when making the 'reusable' module, (2) the module is not documented well enough, (3) people on the client projects are motivated to not reuse modules, perhaps because they are rewarded for hours worked or lines of code written (or some other counter-productive measure), or (4) they are under time pressure, and don't have time to rewrite their app to use a module that they seem to be able to do without.

Take the reverse approach. Instead of creating a module and telling projects to use it, create a small "Extreme Reuse" team: one to four people who join projects to (1) help them get things done (2) look for code that could be extracted for use by other teams (3) refactor project code to create and reuse shared parts. The Extreme Reuse team needs to join several projects before extracting code from any of them, in order to know all of their needs. How can a few people join a team and be immediately helpful and productive? Pair programming.

Bryan Dollery has described this and other aspects of how to reuse parts here.

I don't know anyone trying a "Reuse Team"; please let me know if you are. My small team works on several projects. We have code common to these projects in some separate directories, and it is mostly unit-tested. (Yes, we're not 100% pure XP.) We make minor changes to this common code, and avoid breaking the clients by continuing to pass the unit tests, and by building and testing the client projects.

Keith Ray is developing new applications for iOS® and Macintosh®.. Go to Sizeography and Upstart Technology to join our mailing lists and see more about our products.

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