Tuesday 31 July 2018

Tools and why we use them

Jumping on a new sexy tool/fad are we?

hugh laurie queue GIF

We constantly need to reevaluate the state of play, tooling, practices and languages are constantly changing around us. So assuming what we thought was good yesterday is still good can be a massive downfall, in all honesty, there's a pretty good chance that it wasn't ever good.

I can definitely see a trend where generally when we think something is good we overdo it, next thing you know it is a best practice and we do it everywhere, not just where it makes sense.

I remember switching to dependency injection and suddenly we decided it should be in every class, everything should be injected. Instead of deciding on a case by case basis to use it when we needed to test we just did it everywhere. It results in us not using our brains and just running on autopilot, perhaps we should always fall back to thinking about what things are good for.

I also saw an interesting talk lately on why we shouldn't always use microservices, the main point seemed to be that we should start off with a single application and change to microservices when they would benefit the project, though I completely agree with this I think it can be hard to change to microservices when you haven't done them before so perhaps mandating a practice for a specific application from the start is ok if one of the main goals is to learn the practice.

So my point really is to identify the benefit of a tool or practice and be careful in this identification. I would say architectural i.e. SOLID style reasoning is not good enough to justify a tooling. For example, if you say that dependency injection is for decoupling of dependencies please can we ask what the purpose of the decoupling is. So I would say dependency injection is for allowing us to inject stubs (not mocks!! :/) at test time, so how about we just use it where we want to inject test things. Also with some restructuring just having the consumer pass in the dependencies seems much easier than using a dependency container.

Maybe next time we are trying something we should also try a couple of manual alternatives and evaluate the differences to help us avoid practices that we can do without.

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