427: RailsConf Recap and Conversing About Coupling

Episode 427 · May 28th, 2024 · 37 mins 3 secs

About this Episode

Joël and Stephanie talk RailsConf!. Joël shares how he performed as a D&D character, Glittersense the gnome, to make his Turbo features talk entertaining and interactive. Stephanie's talk focused on addressing test pain by connecting it to code coupling, offering practical insights and solutions.

They agree on the importance of continuous improvement as speakers and developers and trying new approaches in talks and code design, and recommend Jared Norman's RailsConf talk on design patterns, too!


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JOËL: Hello and welcome to another episode of The Bike Shed, a weekly podcast from your friends at thoughtbot about developing great software. I'm Joël Quenneville.

STEPHANIE: And I'm Stephanie Minn. And together, we're here to share a bit of what we've learned along the way.

JOËL: So, Stephanie, what's new in your world?

STEPHANIE: So, I think I can speak for both of us and say what's new in our world is that you and I just came back from RailsConf in Detroit.

JOËL: Yeah, we were there for, I guess, it's a three-day conference. Both of us were giving talks.

STEPHANIE: Yeah. I don't think we've both spoken at a conference for at least a little over a year, so that was really fun kind of to catch up in person. And there was a whole crew of thoughtboters who were there. Yeah, I feel like we were hanging out, like, a lot [chuckles] all of last week, just seeing each other, talking about, you know, rehearsing our talks and spending time together on...there was, like, a hack day, and we were sitting at the table together. So, I feel like I'm totally caught up on everything that's new in your world, and that's it. That's the end of the show [laughs].

JOËL: On that note, shall we wrap up?

STEPHANIE: [laughs] That would not be very fair to our listeners.


JOËL: Yeah. So, how was the conference speaking experience for you?

STEPHANIE: Ooh, it was really great this year. I have not spoken at a RailsConf before, so this was actually, I think, a bigger stage than I had experienced before, and I had a great time. I met Ruby friends, new and old, and, yeah, I left feeling very gooeyed, and very energized, and just so grateful for the Rails community [laughs]. Yeah, I had a very lovely time, kind of being a little bit outside my normal life for a few days. And I think my favorite part about these things is just like, anywhere you go, you can kind of just have a shared interest with someone, and you can start a conversation with them.

JOËL: That's really interesting. Do you find yourself just reaching out to strangers at conferences like this? Or do you tend to just hang out with the people that you know?

STEPHANIE: Oh, I think a little bit of both. I like to get meals with people I know. But if I'm just hanging out in, like, the lobby or if I happen to get a seat for a talk and I'm sitting next to someone that I don't know, I find it quite easy to just be like, "Hi, like, I'm Stephanie. Are you excited for this talk?" Or, like, "What good talks have you seen recently?" There's an aspect of, like, the social butterfly that comes out of me when I'm at these things. Because I just don't get to have, like, easy access to, I don't know, people with, like, that shared interest or people who are willing to just have a conversation with you normally, I think.

JOËL: Yeah, would you describe yourself more as an introvert or an extrovert?

STEPHANIE: I am an extroverted introvert [laughter]. I feel like maybe that might be interpreted as a non-answer, but I think I lean more on the introvert side. But you know when you're with a group of people, and there's not, like, a very clear extrovert in that conversation, and then you're like, oh, I have to do the heavy [chuckles] lifting of the social lubrication [laughs] in this conversation, I can step into that role, reluctantly [laughs].

JOËL: Okay. I like the label that you used, the extrovert introvert, in that I enjoy social situations. I do well in social situations. But they also consume a lot of energy for me. I don't necessarily get sort of recharged by doing social events. So, people will be surprised when they find out that I tend to talk about myself as an introvert because, like, "Oh, but you're, like, you know, you're not awkward. You engage very well in different group situations."

STEPHANIE: You have a podcast [laughs].

JOËL: And the truth is I enjoy those things, right? I really like social interaction, but it does, after a while, wear me out.

STEPHANIE: Yeah, that makes sense. I did want to spend a little bit of time talking about the talk you gave at RailsConf this year: "Dungeons & Dragons & Rails."

JOËL: I got to have a lot of fun with the theme. The actual content was introducing people to Turbo by building an interactive Dungeons & Dragons character sheet using vanilla Rails and a little bit of Turbo. So, we're not even writing any JavaScript. We're just using the Turbo helpers, a little bit of Action Cable to mimic something a little bit like...people who are in the know might be familiar with the site D&D Beyond, which is kind of the official D&D online character sheet website. Of course, it wasn't anywhere near as fancy because it's a 30-minute talk and showcasing different features, but that's what we were aiming for.

STEPHANIE: Yeah, you know, you've talked a bit about giving talks on the show before, but I wanted to get into what made this one different because I think it could be fun for our listeners.


JOËL: The way I structured this talk so it has a theme. It's about Dungeons & Dragons, and we're building a character sheet. The way I wrote the talk was it's broken up into chapters. Each chapter is teaching a new feature in Turbo that I want to show off. In order to motivate learning each of these features...because I don't like to just say, "Oh, here's a thing that technology can do. Oh, here's a thing that technology can do." That's boring. You need a reason to learn that. So, I needed a reason to say,
"We need to add this to a character sheet."

So, every sort of chapter of the talk opens up with a little narrative portion. We're following this character, Glittersense, the gnome, and he's on adventures. And at different points in the adventures, he's going to do different types of roles or need different stats and things. And so, when we reach the point in the adventure where we need that, we sort of freeze frame and then say, "Okay, let's add that as a feature to the character sheet."

And then, oh no, it turns out that this feature is a little bit more complicated. We're going to have to learn a new Turbo feature to do that. Who would have guessed? And then, we learn a new Turbo feature together. And then, we go back to the narrative portion. The adventures of Glittersense continue. And then, oh no, we're going to need to add another feature to the character sheet. And that's sort of how the talk is structured.

STEPHANIE: Yeah. And you did a really cool thing with the narrative portions, which was you basically performed as Glittersense, the gnome, voice and posture, and a lot of really great acting from you [laughs], in my opinion.

JOËL: That is something that came out pretty late in the talk preparation. So, I knew I wanted this kind of alternating story and code structure. Then, like, the weekend before RailsConf, I'm running through my slide deck, and I realized, you know what? What if instead of narrating Glittersense's adventures, what if I went first person for those sections? Glittersense tells his own story.

And then, from there, it wasn't a big jump to say, you know what? This is D&D. If I'm going first person and narrating, I really should do a voice. And this is a conversation I had with a couple of people at the speaker dinner. And, of course, everyone's like, "You should 100% do the voice." And I was really not feeling confident in my ability to pull it off. So, for the next two nights, because I was speaking on the third day, the next two nights at the conference, in the evenings, I'm in the hotel room in front of the mirror just practicing my gnome voice to try to get something that got the persona of Glitterense, the gnome, across to the audience.

STEPHANIE: How would you describe the persona?

JOËL: Very extra.

STEPHANIE: [laughs]

JOËL: Very high energy.

STEPHANIE: Yes. The name Glittersense is very extra, after all.

JOËL: [laughs]. I punctuated a lot of the things that he says with just high-pitched laughter. He's also...so, the framing device for all of this is that you're in a tavern listening to him tell his adventures. I wanted a little bit of the sense that Glittersense is maybe embellishing a little bit. I think it may be too much to say he's full of himself, but he's definitely making himself to be the hero of the story, and maybe making himself to be slightly cooler than he really was.

STEPHANIE: Yeah. I definitely got, like, a little bit of eccentricity, too, from the persona. And you know when you just, I don't know, meet an older person who has, like, a lot of life experience, and they want to tell you about it [laughter], but you do kind of maybe have a little bit of suspicion around how much they're exaggerating [laughs].

But it was really fun. Everyone I talked to afterwards, like, loved it. And I got to share the little nugget that, like, oh yeah, and Joël only, like, started doing the voice, like, decided that he was going to do it two days ago. And they were just all really, like, blown away because it seemed so well practiced, and it was really fun.

JOËL: I got to do something really fun, also, with physical space because Glittersense narrates his portion, sort of the story portions, but then the code portions where we're talking about Turbo, I'm talking in my own voice. And so, when I'm talking about Turbo, I'm standing at the lectern. And when I'm Glittersense, I'm kind of off to the side on the stage and doing the voice.

And so, there's this almost, like, two worlds that are inhabited: one by Joël, the speaker, and one by Glittersense, the gnome. And it got to the point where I don't say or do anything. I only move from the lectern to the, like, portion of the stage where Glittersense lives. And the audience starts chuckling and, like, nothing has happened yet, like, no jokes have been told. No voice has happened. No slides have changed. But the anticipation, people know what's coming.

STEPHANIE: Yeah. And I think the best part, what I really found just really fun and, I don't know, every time it happened, I just really enjoyed it, when you transitioned out of Glittersense, the gnome, and back to Joël because you were so nonchalant about it. You kind of, like, straighten up rather than having your little kind of crouchy gnome posture, and then just walk across back to the podium. And then, in your normal voice, go back to just, you know, sharing very...not necessarily dry, but just, like, straight to the point. "And this is, like, how you, you know, create a frame in [laughs] Turbo," as if nothing happened [laughs] when even just, like, you know, 20 seconds ago, you were just enthusing about, like, slaying the bandit, chieftain [laughter] known as Glittersense.

JOËL: Uh-huh. I think, especially when I open, so I get introduced. I'm off stage. I walk onto the stage, and I'm immediately Glittersense. And I'm telling a story, and the intro goes on for, like, quite a while. It's a big story chunk. And then, at some point, I just walk over to the lectern, drop the voice, hit next slide, and it's my title slide. I'm just like, "Okay, now welcome to Dungeons & Dragons on Rails. We're going to build a character sheet together."

STEPHANIE: Yeah, that's exactly the moment I'm thinking of.

JOËL: The walking in as Glittersense and just immediately going to the voice caught everyone by surprise. And then, the, like, oh, he keeps going for this. Is the whole talk going to be like this? And then, the, like, just when you think, oh, he's really going for it, the, like, dropping it and going to the podium and title slide. It wasn't intended to be a funny moment, but I think the contrast and the fact that I just switched over was one of the biggest laughs I got.

STEPHANIE: Yeah, I mean, I think that attests to how good the delivery of it was because that contrast was very felt. So, props to you.

JOËL: I love the idea of, you know, the thought that you put into building a talk and, like, the narrative structure and the pedagogy of the stuff. And, I think, in this particular case, this is almost like a narrative approach called in media res, where you start kind of in the middle. You open your book, or your movie, or whatever in the middle of the story. And then, you kind of come back to the beginning at some point later. So, it starts with some kind of action scene that grabs your attention. So, in this case, my title slide is 10, 15 slides into the talk.

We get immediately started with Glittersense and his adventures. And then, once we're sort of all bought into this world, then we move to the title slide and talk about, okay, we're here to build a character sheet and all that stuff. And I think that it wouldn't have had the same impact if I'd, like, opened with that and then gone into Glittersense's adventures. And that's something that was not the case at the beginning. I really reworked the talk to make it in that order. And I think that the talk had a lot more impact for doing that.

STEPHANIE: Yeah, definitely. I guess I also just wanted to point out that this is very different from all your other talks. And I think it's really cool that, you know, you are a veteran speaker, but you still find ways to do something new and try something that you've never done before, and yeah, find ways, new ways to, like, speak and engage people and teach. I don't know, do you have just any thoughts about why or how you got into a position to be like, "Oh, you know, I'm going to do something super different this time around" [laughs]?

JOËL: So, every talk I give, I try to do something new, something different, to push myself as a speaker to get better. That might be in the writing of the talk; that might be in the delivery. More recently, I've been trying to do more with dynamic presence on stage. So, when I spoke at RubyConf San Diego, I was trying to not just stand at the lectern but to learn to be able to give my talk while also, you know, walking around the stage, looking at the audience, making pauses where it's necessary, not to just be so into the delivery of the talk by just standing at the podium and, like, going through my deck, which is a small thing but I think is an area I wanted to improve in.

This time, I was playing around with some more narrative framing and ended up, yeah, like, pushing it to an extreme. And it works with the theme because inhabiting a character and role-playing is the core part of D&D. Not everybody plays a D&D character by doing a voice. You are a little bit extra if you do that. But it's not uncommon for people to do a voice. And so, it kind of fit perfectly with my theme. I just needed to get the self-confidence to do it. So, thank you to everyone at the speaker dinner that was like, "No, you totally got this. You should do this," because I was feeling very unsure.

STEPHANIE: It really paid off, so...

JOËL: I'd like to circle back to your talk, though. So, you gave, basically, the first talk of the conference. You were the first session after the keynote. A theme that came up multiple times in your talk was this idea of coupling and how it affects different parts of our code and, particularly the way that we structure tests or the way that we feel test pain. How did you, when you were prepping this talk, discover that theme and decide to lift it up? Was that something that you knew ahead of time you wanted to talk about, or did it just sort of emerge as part of the talk preparation process?

STEPHANIE: That's a really great question, and I'm glad you picked up on that. So, my talk was called: "So, Writing Tests Feels Painful. What Now?" Originally, when I came up with this idea, it actually started with coupling. I realized that I wanted to give a talk about coupling because it's just something that I was struggling with or, like, had seen other people struggle with and really wanting kind of a discrete resource, wanting to provide that.

But as I was just thinking about it, I was like, oh, like, there are so many different ways that this could go. On one hand, it was a very like important topic to me, but also maybe too big of a topic. And so, I actually, like, kind of put that on the back burner. And it wasn't until later when I connected it to another...it wasn't necessarily different at all, but just, like, an extension of this idea is, oh, like, people are struggling with coupling in tests or, like, it manifests in tests. And so, I thought maybe that could be the angle that I took on this topic that kind of gave me a little bit more focus.

And I didn't even end up saying like, "Yeah, this talk was, like, born out of just, you know, wrestling with coupling or anything like that." So, it's cool, to me, that you picked up on it as a theme because it was...I had, you know, ended up not being super explicit about it, but it was certainly, like, a thing that was driving the content from my perspective.

JOËL: Interesting. So, it started as a coupling talk and then got sort of focused through the lens of testing.

STEPHANIE: Yeah. And I think there was a part of me that was like, you know, I don't know if I could just teach the concept of coupling, like, by itself without the framing of testing for people who this is, like, a new concept for them. I realized that maybe it would be more effective to be like, "Hey, like, have you experienced test pain? You know, have you had to mock out a billion objects or changed, you know, made one change and then had to fix, like, a million tests subsequently? Then this talk is for you." And then weave in the idea of coupling in it to kind of start to help people feel familiar with it or just, like, identify it without as much, like, jargon as kind of I've seen when I've tried to figure out, like, how to manage it.

JOËL: It's interesting because I think it gives you a, like, concrete, valuable thing to optimize for as opposed to, like, hey, let's lower coupling because then you're writing, you know, quote, unquote, "better code." And you get to feel better about yourself as a programmer because you're doing things the, quote, unquote, "right way." That's very kind of hand-wavy, and I think sometimes leads people down a bad path where they're optimizing things that they shouldn't be.

But the tests give you this very concrete way to say, "Hey, we're not just trying to reach the, like, low score record for the app in terms of coupling. We're trying to reduce test pain. Tests are painful. And that pain is telling us something. It's telling us that we've crossed some sort of threshold for coupling. Let's find ways to reduce it, not so that we can feel good about ourselves, but so that our tests are actually manageable."

STEPHANIE: Yeah, I am really glad you picked up on that, too, because I feel the exact same way when someone just tells me to decouple something or, like, makes a note that, like, oh, this feels really coupled. I don't know what that means necessarily. And it's not very convincing to just be like, "Oh, you should write loosely coupled code [laughs]," at least for me. What you said just now, it's like, it's not to feel good about ourselves, you know, to write code that way, but, actually, to just feel good about our code, period [laughs]. And, yeah, finding that validation through just, like, actually working with code that is easier to change that is the goal, not necessarily to, yeah, kind of pursue some totally subjective, like, metric.

JOËL: So, one of the kinds of coupling that you called out, I think, was where you hardcode a class name of some other class in your object. And that feels, like, really sort of innocuous. Like, of course, my objects can talk to other objects. And maybe I want to, like, refer to a class somewhere. Why is that such a like tricky piece of coupling to work with?

STEPHANIE: It's not necessarily intentional sometimes. Like, you just do it because you're like, well, I need access to this class somewhere, and I happen to already be in this file. So, why not just hard-code it here? I do think it's a little tricky because the file that you're writing might be, like, very far down in, like, your code flow or, like, your code path, like, very far from, like, a controller or any kind of entry point into your system, at least based on what I've seen in a lot of modern Rails apps. And so, I think that coupling gets really, really obscured.

I have found that, like, if I have to kind of write a more, like, a higher level test, like, maybe a request spec or something, there are times when I'm, like, having to deal with a lot of classes just to set stuff up in a test like that that I didn't think I would have to [chuckles] when I first went about trying to just be like, oh, like, let's just figure out how to get a 200 response [laughs] from this request. So, you're really burying perhaps the things that are needed to set up, like, that full path of execution. And sometimes, it only comes out when you're writing a test for it.

JOËL: And you mentioned briefly, in passing, the idea that oftentimes this sort of coupling manifests as a lot of extra test setup because your object that you're trying to test now also needs all these other things that are related in order to be tested. But sometimes even when you hard code a class, though, you can't even just say, "Oh, I want this particular user or something returned." So, you have to then do something like allow this class to receive class method and return, and now you're stubbing.

And I don't know how you feel about stubs in RSpec. I always treat them a little bit like a code smell in the like classic sense of it's not necessarily bad, but maybe pause, take a look, and ask yourself, "Why is that there, and should I do things differently?"

STEPHANIE: Yeah. I ended up having, like, a lot of examples of stubbing in my example because the code had just been set up where that was the only way that you could access those collaborators, essentially, to, like, make an assertion on them, or have them do something different because you actually needed to go into a different path, right? And I was like, yeah, this should feel weird. You should feel a little bad [laughs] or at least, you know, kind of just pay attention to that feeling, even if you can't really do anything about it in that particular instance.

But on the flip side, you know, it's like, yes, it feels a bit strange, you know, but it's not all bad, right? Like, you're kind of learning like, oh, hey, like, I am coupled to this hard-coded class because I am needing to stub, like, a class method that returns it, or that constructs it. And at least you've exposed that, you know, for yourself.

One thing that I was running into a lot in my example, too, was that those things, like, weren't obvious when you were just reading maybe, like, the public methods and trying to figure out what was happening in them because they were wrapped in private methods. I was a little bit conflicted about this because there were times when it was already just a single method call, but then it was just kind of wrapped in a private method that actually hid [laughs] the things, like all the dependencies that were passed as arguments.

And I found that to be, sure, it looks kind of cleaner. But then all you need to do is scroll down [laughs], and then you're like, oh, actually, there's all these other things involved, but it was kind of hidden away for me. And I found that, actually, like, at least when I actually needed to change things, less helpful than I imagine what the, you know, code author intended. Do you have any thoughts about hiding details like that?

JOËL: I'm kind of a big fan.


JOËL: The general idea, I think, is called the single level of abstraction principle. Whatever sort of public method that you're calling is often implemented in terms of...let's say it does a few different things. It's implemented in terms of, like, these sort of high-level concepts. So, whoever is reading the public method doesn't need to like care about the details of how each step is implemented.

So, maybe you're fetching something from an API, and then you're making a database call, and then you're doing some transformation and creating some new objects from it. Having all of the, like, HTTP calls and the ActiveRecord stuff and the, like, transformation all in the public method, yes, there's a lot of complexity happening there, and it makes that obvious. But it also makes it really hard to get a sense of what is happening.

So, I like to say, "Hey, there are four steps. Let's wrap them all each in a private method then you can call all of those in the public method." The public method now sort of reads like a very simple sort of script. First, fetch data from the HTTP API, then fetch some data from the database, then apply this transformation, then create this object. And if I'm mostly caring about what this object does and not the how let's say I'm building some other objects that interact with this, that is the information I want to know. Where I care about the actual implementation of, oh, well, exactly how is the ActiveRecord stuff done when I'm doing internal changes to the object, that's when I care about those private methods.

I think where it gets tricky, and I think that's the point that you were bringing up, is that if you write code in that way, it has to change the heuristics of how you read code to detect complexity. Because, oftentimes, I think a very classic heuristic for code complexity is just line length. If you have a 50-line method, probably there's a lot of complexity there. Maybe there's a lot of coupling. If it's a four-line method that is written at a high level of abstraction that just calls out to private methods, you scan over. You're like, oh, nice and clean. Nothing to see here. Move on. And so, that heuristic doesn't really hold up in a codebase where you're applying this single level of abstraction. Do you think that lines up with your experience?

STEPHANIE: Hmm. As I was listening to you, I was like, yeah, like, that makes total sense to me. But then I also clearly disagreed a little bit [laughs] in my initial...kind of what I was saying initially. And I think it's because that single layer of abstraction was not very well defined.

JOËL: Hmm. That's fair.

STEPHANIE: Yeah. Where, in fact, it was actually misleading. Like, it wanted to be at that level of abstraction, but it really wasn't. Like, it was operating on things at, like, a lower level and wasn't designed with that kind of readability in mind. So, it was more, like, it was just hiding stuff a little bit, at least for me.

And, I think, it certainly would have taken, like, more work to figure out what that code, like, really was meant to convey. It might have taken some refactoring to coalesce at that single level. And that was essentially kind of what I was showing in my talk as, like, how to get to saying, like, "Hey, we actually are operating in the lower level, but I don't think we need to."

There was some amount of, like, looking at all of the how to figure out, like, oh, maybe these things we don't even need to expose in this class. And we kind of got to a place where those details weren't, like, needed in that class at all. So, it's one of those things where it's harder than it sounds [laughs].

JOËL: It's definitely an art.


JOËL: And I think what you're saying about some of the coupling being, like, scattered throughout the class, it's something that I see a lot with situations where you're coupled, not so much to, like, a single class, but to something side effectful. So, you're building some kind of integration with a third-party API, and you're going to have to make a lot of HTTP calls. And each of those might be individually simple, and they're all sort of maybe in different private methods or whatever, or they're interspersed among a larger chunk of logic. And that makes your tests really complicated. But there's no, like, one place you can point at and be like, ooh, that's the one place where there's a lot of complexity.

What's happening here, though, is that your business object that's doing stuff is coupled to the network, and that coupling is going to force you to do some stubbing. It's going to force you to deal with a bunch of side effects that are non-deterministic in your code. And you used the word coalesce earlier that I really liked because I think that's often a situation where you do have to stand back and say, "Look, there's a lot of HTTP going on here. What if I coalesced it all into an object? Now I have two objects: one that's responsible for business logic, and one that's responsible for just the HTTP calls."

And, all of a sudden, the tests just totally simplify. And we've removed some coupling, but that's not something that you would have seen just from reading the code. Because, as you were saying, it's sort of scattered in little bits and pieces throughout your file that don't necessarily catch your eye.

STEPHANIE: Yeah. Which brings me to a blog post that I had found a lot of inspiration from in the talk that I'll link. It's called "That One Thing: Reduce Coupling for More Scalable and Sustainable Software." But it's actually about tests [laughs], even though it doesn't make an appearance in the title of the blog post at all. But this is where I kind of got the idea of necessary versus unnecessary coupling in test. Because I had never thought about how, yeah, like, when you write a test, you are very correctly coupling yourself to at least the method and class under test [laughs], if not also the arguments, right? Or anything else needed to construct what you're testing.

And literally having that listed out for me in this blog post I think it's a...they use some examples in Java. And so, there's, like, a little bit more [laughs] setup involved. But I think they're like, yeah, these are six things that, like, it's mostly fine if you're coupled to these because that's kind of what needs to happen in a test. But, like, even having something to compare a test I wrote to just, like, okay, these are the things I know I need. And then, you can start to see when you've diverged from that list, when you are finding yourself coupled to some internals of your class.

I really...that was actually, like, really helpful for me because, as we talked about earlier, like, it can be kind of communicated so abstractly. But here is, like, a very clear heuristic for when you should at least, like, start to pay attention or be like, oh, this is something that was needed to get the test to run but is now starting to feel a little unnecessary because it's not on this list.

JOËL: That list reminds me, or the idea of a list of things to check out for when thinking about coupling, reminds me of the concept of connascence, which is a fancy word for almost a, like, categorization of different types of coupling because coupling comes in different flavors, some of which are tighter forms of coupling than others. And so, having that vocabulary has been really helpful for me when I'm looking at PRs and code review, or even when I'm refactoring my own code. Kind of like that list that you mentioned that you have, now I have some heuristics to look at that and say, "Oh, can I go from a connascence of position to a connascence of naming, and does that help me?"

STEPHANIE: Yeah, I like that you mentioned the positional connascence because I also came across a really great metaphor for kind of things that need to change together, like, when that makes sense. And it was basically the idea of a dishwasher and a laundry machine [laughs]. I wish I could recall, like, what book this was from.

But it was basically like, oh yeah, like, in theory, you're washing two things. So, maybe they are similar, but then you're like, no, actually, you want these to be a little bit separate because, you know, you don't want to wash your dishes and your clothes in the same machine. I don't know, maybe that exists [laughs], but I don't think it would do a very good job for either goal.

And I think that was really helpful, for me, in imagining, like, the difference between kind of coupling and cohesion, like things that...even just imagining, like, kind of where I'm doing those things in the house, right? It's like, okay, that lives in a separate room. And, like, the kitchen is for the dishes, and that could be like, you know, a module if you will. And, like, laundry happens in the laundry room, and how to kind of just separate those things, even though they also do share some qualities, too. Like, they're both appliances, right? And so, that's the way that they are similar, but they're not the same.

JOËL: You just mentioned the sort of keyword cohesion. And for our listeners who are not familiar with that term, it refers to an object sort of having one thing that it does well. Like, everything in that class sort of works towards the same goal, kind of similar to the idea of the single responsibility principle.

So, in my earlier example, where we're sort of interspersing some business logic, a lot of HTTP requests, and pulling out an object that's focused on HTTP, like everything is based around that, now that object has higher cohesion because it's all doing one thing. So, if you read classic object-oriented literature, the recommendations that you'll typically see are that objects should have high cohesion and low coupling.

STEPHANIE: Yeah. Think of a dishwasher and a washing machine next time [laughs] you come across something like that. Because I feel like those are really great, like, real-life examples of that separation.

JOËL: Did you go to Jared Norman's talk on the third day: "Undervalued: The Most Useful Design Pattern"?

STEPHANIE: No, I didn't. Can you tell me about it?

JOËL: It felt like he was addressing a lot of the same themes as you were but from more of a code perspective than a test perspective. Talking a lot about, again, forms of coupling, dependencies, and then, specifically, one of the tools that he focused on to reduce the coupling that we see is value objects and factory methods to construct those.

So, for any of our listeners who, when the talks come out, watch Stephanie's talk and are like, "Wow, I would love to learn more about this," a great follow-up, Jared Norman's talk: "Undervalued: The Most Useful Design Pattern."

STEPHANIE: Yeah, that's neat because I can see that being a solution to the hard code did class names that we were talking about earlier. And I like how that is kind of, like, a progressive lesson in coupling a little bit. I'm really glad you shared that talk with me because now I'm excited to watch it when it comes out. And in general, I just love learning new vocabulary or finding new ways to speak about this topic with clarity. So, if any of our listeners have just additional mental models for coupling [laughs] different metaphors, different household appliances [laughs], or something like that, I would love to know.

JOËL: You would like that, given that our first episode together was about "The Value Of Specialized Vocabulary."

STEPHANIE: Yeah, it's clearly undervalued.

JOËL: Haha, I see what you did there.

STEPHANIE: Thank you. Thank you very much [laughs].

JOËL: On that terrible/wonderful pun, shall we wrap up?

STEPHANIE: Let's wrap up. Show notes for this episode can be found at bikeshed.fm.

JOËL: This show has been produced and edited by Mandy Moore.

STEPHANIE: If you enjoyed listening, one really easy way to support the show is to leave us a quick rating or even a review in iTunes. It really helps other folks find the show.

JOËL: If you have any feedback for this or any of our other episodes, you can reach us @_bikeshed, or you can reach me @joelquen on Twitter.

STEPHANIE: Or reach both of us at hosts@bikeshed.fm via email.

JOËL: Thanks so much for listening to The Bike Shed, and we'll see you next week.

ALL: Byeeeeeeee!!!!!


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