Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Law Of Demeter

Law of Demeter

When reading Practical Object-Oriented Design In Ruby, I got reminded of the Law of Demeter. To be honest I never knew it by that name. I always knew it by the name of Train Wreck, this is the way that it was explained to me.

So what is The Law of Demeter?

As described in this article:

The "Law of Demeter" (or LoD) as it is commonly called, is really more precisely the "Law of Demeter for Functions/Methods" (LoD-F). It is a design-style rule for object-oriented programs. Its essence is the "principle of least knowledge" regarding the object instances used within a method. The idea is to assume as little as possible about the structure and properties of instances and their subparts. Thus, it is okay for me to request a service of an objects instance, but if I reach into that object to access another sub-object and request a service of that sub-object, I am assuming knowledge of the deeper structure of the original object that was made available to me.

This basically says don't reach into objects that are internal to the object you are interacting with. For example, these violate the law:


Fluent Interfaces

As described by wikipedia:

A fluent interface is normally implemented by using method chaining to relay the instruction context of a subsequent call (but a fluent interface entails more than just method chaining). Generally, the context is:
  • defined through the return value of a called method
  • self-referential, where the new context is equivalent to the last context
  • terminated through the return of a void context.

I often confused this as being a violation of the Law of Demeter, however it is not a violation as we are acting on the same object. The only downside is that this could lead to long lines which I would still recommend putting into a method with a descriptive name.

Further Reading  

To anyone that wants to further explore these concepts, please have a read of the following: