Posted on 23/8/08 by Felix Geisendörfer
as I expected almost everybody disagreed with my views on private methods. Here is the deal:
If you can use the private / protected feature of your language to do more good than evil in the world, all power to you.
If you have doubts ... read on.
First I have to make some confessions. I have not studied computer science. I have not done much Java. I have little trust in theory that I cannot apply to the real world. I do not think modern programming is much of a scientific endeavor. I believe the best code is no code at all. And I think there are lots of reasons to question anything people call fundamentally true.
But more than everything else, I believe the following:
We are in the stone age of programming. We are really just talking Fire, Water, Wind and Earth here.
It has only been 50 years since modern programming appeared. Chances are that 100 years from now most of what we consider good ideas and best practices will seem like a joke. But here I go lecturing you people with what in reality isn't more than a bunch of hunches and ideas of some guy without formal education in the field.
But ... I do have some experience with applications heavily using private functions. Once upon a time I worked on a CakePHP application. It was big. 300++ database tables. We're talking about what is probably the biggest CakePHP install out there. The previous programmers seemed to love private methods. They made sure to put 4-5 in at least every controller for good measure. I refactored this code, at least a lot of it. And I noticed a consistent pattern: 9 out of 10 times private methods were used as a rug that shit the programmers didn't want to architect properly was swept under.
Now this is just one example Felix, you might say. You haven't seen my glorious use of this most awesome of all OOP concepts. And you are right. I haven't. But I want my theory to be true. I feel I'm onto something. I saw this pattern to emerge every time I looked at private functions. And I either want you guys to proof me that I'm an idiot (I can live with that, no worries) or see the elegance of avoiding private methods yourself.
So I decided to join Nate Abele's I will insult your code challenge. Send me some CakePHP code that you cannot imagine to be elegant without private or protected methods / properties. Limit yourself to a class or two tops (like controller + model). Send this code to me. I will either refactor it to my idea of beauty and elegance or admit my mistake : ).
This is not exactly going to be a scientific proof or anything close, but as long as I might be able to convince or get myself convinced somebody is going to learn from it!
-- Felix Geisendörfer aka the_undefined
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