SOLID: Single Responsibility Principle

1 minute read

TIL about the single responsibility principle, and how it can lead to decoupled classes that make changes less risky.

The single responsibility principle is the S in SOLID, and it’s all about separation of concerns in your code.

The principle states that a class should only have one reason to change. If an entire system is designed in this manner, then the impact of changes to the system are isolated to a smaller number of classes. This reduces the potential for bugs as your code changes over time.

Another way to state the single responsibility principle is: Gather together the things that change for similar reasons in common classes. Separate the things that change for different reasons.

This phrasing is still all about minimizing the impact of change in your codebase. If methods that change for the same reasons are gathered together in a common class, then you minimize the number of points in your codebase you need to touch when changes occur.

A classic example of respecting the single responsibility principle with your class design, is when you separate the persistence of your objects from any business logic pertaining to those models. In this instance, you are gathering together the things that change together and separating the things that don’t.

The business logic pertaining to a set of models might change often as requirements change. This shouldn’t cause the code that persists your models to change as well.

Conversely, if you choose a new persistence method for your models (switching from MySql to Postgres, for example) it shouldn’t necessitate a change in the code where your business logic resides.

Every time you touch a file, there exists potential for bugs to inadvertently sneak in to your code. By gathering together the things that change for similar reasons, you ensure that the amount of code exposed to a change is minimized.

This is the essence of the single responsibility principle.

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