How do you organize your toolboxes?

March 28, 2015

Every so often I’m reminded of a great piece of advice from Clean Code by Robert C. Martin:

Getting software to work and making software clean are two very different activities. Most of us have limited room in our heads, so we focus on getting our code to work more than organization and cleanliness. This is wholly appropriate. Maintaining a separation of concerns is just as important in our programming activities as it is in our programs.

The problem is that too many of us think that we are done once the program works. We fail to switch to the other concern of organization and cleanliness. We move on to the next problem rather than going back and breaking the overstuffed classes into decoupled units with single responsibilities.

At the same time, many developers fear that a large number of small, single-purpose classes makes it more difficult to understand the bigger picture. They are concerned that they must navigate from class to class in order to figure out how a larger piece of work gets accomplished.

However, a system with many small classes has no more moving parts than a system with a few large classes. There is just as much to learn in the system with a few large classes.

So the question is: Do you want your tools organized into toolboxes with many small drawers each containing well-defined and well-labeled components? Or do you want a few drawers that you just toss everything into?

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out some example or some commentary to write here, but I think the quote above more than speaks for itself.