Owning my responsibilities

Today’s post is not precisely about Strange so much as about keeping one’s eye the fundamentals.

As you might already know, we’ve been working on adding editor functionality so that you can create StrangeIoC-based Extensions for Unity. I usually approach a new project like this in a few simple steps:

  1. Quick and dirty proof of concept
  2. Refactor and tighten
  3. Test and correct

As you can see I’m not really a TDD guy, though I end up with a similar product.

In step one, I copied and pasted the MediationBinder and hacked a version that would work with EditorWindows. This led, in step two, to an obvious refactor: extracting commonalities between MediationBinder and the new EditorMediationBinder into an AbstractMediationBinder. And Oh Look! all those commonalities – freed from the surly shackles of MonoBehaviours – reveal big chunks of testable code!

This has always been an Achilles’ Heel for Strange. The untestability of the mediation package has meant that we have never been entirely certain of the quality of our code in this part of the framework. Because of this, we necessarily approach changes here with a lot more caution then we might do any other part of Strange.

My buddy Will saw this and immediately went to town with a further refactor. The result is amazing: virtually the whole of the (Abstract)MediationBinder is now open to unit testing. The bits that aren’t tested simply represent specific lines where we supply access to the MonoBehaviour-specific API. All the rest has been abstracted away.

The practical result for you – whether or not you care about Editor extensions or even unit testing – is safer, more reliable code in an area of the framework on which you probably rely a great deal.

The mea culpa and moral of all this: the single responsibility principle exists to help us. My failure to consider this fully when writing the original version of the MediationBinder is only coming clear to me years later. Had I broken down the elements of my methods into smaller atomic parts back then, we probably wouldn’t have written off the whole of this package as untestable.

Lesson learned.

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