If-Then-Else Is a Code Smell
If-then-else is a common pattern, but should it be replaced with something more elegant? What pattern can we follow? Read on to find out more and for an example.
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In most cases (maybe even in all of them), if-then-else can and must be replaced by a decorator or simply another object. I've been planning to write about this for almost a year but only today found a real case in my own code that perfectly illustrates the problem. So it's time to demonstrate it and explain.
Take a look at the class
DyTalk from yegor256/rultor and its method
modify(). In a nutshell, it prevents you from saving any data to DynamoDB if there were no modifications of the XML document. It's a valid case, and it has to be validated, but the way it's implemented is simply wrong. This is how it works (an oversimplified example):
What's wrong, you wonder? This if-then-else forking functionality doesn't really belong to this object — that's what's wrong. Modifying the XML document and saving it to the database is its functionality, while not saving anything if the modification instructions set is empty is not (it's very similar to defensive programming). Instead, there should be a decorator, which would look like this:
Now, if and when we need our talk to be more clever in situations where the list of directives is empty, we decorate it with
QuickTalk. The benefits are obvious: the
DyTalk class is smaller and therefore more cohesive.
I'm suggesting this simple rule: If it's possible to convert if-then-else forking to a decorator, it has to be done. If it's not done, it's a code smell. Make sense?
Published at DZone with permission of Yegor Bugayenko. See the original article here.
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