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Test-Driven Development with Objects

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The authors of Growing Object-Oriented Software, Guided by Tests discuss test-driven development with objects.
This chapter is from the book
  • Music is the space between the notes.
  • —Claude Debussy

A Web of Objects

Object-oriented design focuses more on the communication between objects than on the objects themselves. As Alan Kay [Kay98] wrote:

  • The big idea is "messaging" [...] The key in making great and growable systems is much more to design how its modules communicate rather than what their internal properties and behaviors should be.

An object communicates by messages: It receives messages from other objects and reacts by sending messages to other objects as well as, perhaps, returning a value or exception to the original sender. An object has a method of handling every type of message that it understands and, in most cases, encapsulates some internal state that it uses to coordinate its communication with other objects.

An object-oriented system is a web of collaborating objects. A system is built by creating objects and plugging them together so that they can send messages to one another. The behavior of the system is an emergent property of the composition of the objects—the choice of objects and how they are connected (Figure 2.1).

Figure 2.1

Figure 2.1 A web of objects

This lets us change the behavior of the system by changing the composition of its objects—adding and removing instances, plugging different combinations together—rather than writing procedural code. The code we write to manage this composition is a declarative definition of the how the web of objects will behave. It's easier to change the system's behavior because we can focus on what we want it to do, not how.

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