Adam Bien's Weblog

Thursday Aug 27, 2009

Decoupling Between Functional Units (Components) Is A Must If:

  1. The functional units are already independent or loosely coupled in the target domain (from the conceptual perspective). 
  2. The functional requirements allow asynchronous communication between the components. Even better: they are already modeled as asynchronous processes.
  3. The service component, which offers the services, is likely to change, what would break the "client" component.
  4. The service component is not technology or even vendor agnostic. Direct communication with such service component would "pollute" all clients. Encapsulation is a must in this case.
  5. Both components have different release cycles. Service component is likely to change, but the client component cannot be re-installed or rolled-out.
  6. Both components are going to be developed by different teams, or even some parts outsourced to other companies.
  7. An average RFE will cause only local changes in a single component and the decoupling / indirection will help you to isolate those changes.
  8. There are already different algorithms available for a given functionality or use case (see e.g. the Strategy Pattern).
  9. You are building an API or platform, which is going to be used by other applications.
  10. Obvious: the UI should be always decoupled from the business logic realization. Multiple UIs (e.g. JSF, RIA, IPhone) are very likely - also in enterprise environment.

Decoupling or modularization do cause additional coding / conceptual / auditing (e.g. metrics) effort. The reason / intention for decoupling or modularization has to be clearly documented, otherwise the resulting code can be hard to understand and, in long term, to maintain.

 [Data Transfer Objects are often introduced to increase decoupling, see page 153 in "Real World Java EE Patterns - Rethinking Best Practices" and Premature Encapsulation Is the Root of All Evil, Page 253] 


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Comments:

I am not sure I completely agree with every points, but I certainly agree with the basic statement: Applying the "loose coupling" hammer every time you see a nail is a bad idea.

We already learned that polluting your code with design pattern is not such a good idea. It's about time we start treating the more abstract principles (coupling, cohesion, etc.) the same way.

Posted by Itay Maman on August 27, 2009 at 05:08 PM CEST #

@Itay,

thanks - exactly. With which point you do not agree?

adam

Posted by 80.153.75.159 on August 27, 2009 at 05:26 PM CEST #

These are good rules to follow, but aren't these already established (and often forgotten) principles of Component based Development?

Posted by dvvrt on August 28, 2009 at 01:42 AM CEST #

@Dvvrt,

Yes - with CBD includes some of this ideas. However, CBD itself leads to another problem - procedural (aka serviceoriented) programming model :-).

thanks for your post!,

adam

Posted by Adam Bien on August 28, 2009 at 11:51 AM CEST #

Adam,

I am not sure I disagree, but I do have doubts about:

Point #1: Sometimes different concepts in the target domain can be realized by the same entity in the implementation space

Point #8: Many times I can see more than one algorithm that can solve the problem at hand. Yet, I would not recommend introducing a strategy pattern to accommodate every time that happens. Seems like a YAGNI to me.

Posted by Itay Maman on August 28, 2009 at 01:39 PM CEST #

Right:

Point #1: I meant e.g.: Address and Order can be placed in different namespaces, independent components, deployment units, because they are independent of each other in the target domain as well.

Point #8: If the algorithm is unlikely to change - than decoupling and even an interface are superfluous. See also: http://www.adam-bien.com/roller/abien/entry/a_good_architecture_is_all

thanks!,

adam

Posted by Adam Bien on August 28, 2009 at 02:09 PM CEST #

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