CSC/ECE 517 Fall 2012/Table Of Contents

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This wiki page will give you the outline of the topics from Wiki 1a and 1b. A brief introduction to the topics covered(in 1a and 1b) and the links to the appropriate topic is available on this page.

Object Oriented Design (OOD)

Object Oriented Design (OOD) is a methodology to develop a solution by creating structured objects which interact with each other through well defined interfaces. The object interaction involves invocation of required services and exchange of corresponding data. An object contains data and set of methods or procedures which act on that data. Access to data can be controlled based on access specifiers. The input to the problem is passed to the object through method invocations which are defined by the interfaces. Interfaces define the procedure name and the parameters. The object implements the methods of the interfaces and also encapsulate data needed for solving the problem which can include instances of other objects.

Here is an example of Object Oriented Design.

Advantages of Object Oriented Design:

Traits of a poor Object Oriented Design are given here.

Little about Software success and Software failure is given here.

The 5 Basic Concepts of Object Oriented Design are the implementation level features that are built into the programming language. These features are often referred to by these common names:

There are several concepts that were derived from the new languages once they became popular. The new standards that came around pushed on three major things:

There are several concepts that were derived from the new languages once they became popular. The new standards that came around pushed on three major things:

“Good design and programming is not learned by generalities, but by seeing how significant programs can be made clean, easy to read, easy to maintain and modify human-engineered, efficient, and reliable, by the application of good and programming practices. Careful study and imitation of good designs and programs significantly improves development skills.”--Kernighan & Plauger At the heart of great design are a set of principles and patterns.Design principles form the foundation of good object-oriented design and design patterns provide general repeatable solutions for common software problems.

Essential use cases are abstrat, lightweight, technology-free dialogues of user intension and system responsibility, that effectively capture requirements for design of a system. Working with essential use cases yeilds further benefits: analysts can take advantage of recurring patterns in essential use cases and the crucial common vocabulary of responsibilities lets designers trace directly from the essential use cases to the objects in their design.

There are some tips that can be used in designing to enhance and improve the object-oriented projects:

Factors leading to Poor OOD are:

One of the major causes of limited success in adopting object-oriented methodologies is the failure of management and design teams to recognize and plan for the scope of this change. If preventive measure are taken software failure can be avoided and organizations can benefit from OOD. Assessing quality of software at the design level will provide ease and higher accuracy for users.Some of the methods are listed below:

Here are some well known software failures.

Object Oriented Programming

Object-oriented programming (OOP) is a programming language model organized around "objects" rather than "actions" and data rather than logic. An introduction to Object Oriented Programming and its primary concepts like abstraction,polymorphism,encapsulation and inheritance are explained here.Features and advantages of Object oriented programming is given here. Functional programming is a programming paradigm that treats computation as the evaluation of mathematical functions and avoids state and mutable data. Functional programming decomposes a problem into a set of functions.It is the opposite of object oriented Programming. Advantages of functional programming are given here. We can perform functional programming on an object-oriented programming language because of the following reasons:

Combining both of these paradigms will not only provide us a robust design structure, but also will enable the programmers to develop solutions to complex problems quickly and effectively.More details can be found here.

Some of the basic features of Functional Programming which can be combined with Object Oriented paradigm are:

A number of programming languages support mixing of both functional and object-oriented code. Three of these (Scala, Ruby, and Conjure), are described in more detail here.

In any programming language, the data type refers to the class of data which contains specific type or range of values. Data types are used along with variables used in the program. The data type tells us what kind of values the variable can store, what is the range of the values and how much space the values take in memory etc.

The primitive data types refer to the built-in data types which are supported by the programming language. Often 'data types' and 'primitive data types' are used interchangeably. But not all data types are primitive. Programming languages have some non-primitive data types or derived data types which are provided by the language by making use of its primitive data types.

The common built-in data types or primitive data types are integers, floating point numbers, characters, strings and boolean.

Many object-oriented programming languages provide support for primitive data types while some object-oriented programming languages provide support for primitive objects along with primitive types.

Primitive objects refer to the objects of built-in classes which provide more functionality than the primitive types. Some object-oriented programming languages provide support for only primitive objects (i.e., in such languages all primitive types are objects).

Different object-oriented programming languages implement these primitive data types and primitive objects in a different manner.

Primitive objects in different OO languages like C++,JAVA,C#,JavaScript,Ruby are explained here.

Advantages of using primitive data types are:

Disadvantages of using primitive data types are:

Subclassing is a principle of creating a specialization(subclass/ [1]) of a base class(superclass/ parent class) by inheriting the methods and instance data from the base class. Subclassing is one of the significant features of OO programming, which greatly increases the reusability of classes and also minimizes duplication of code. A subclass usually inherits some properties from a super class. Inheritance is a design principle in object oriented languages like Java. The reason behind inheritance is to reuse the code of existing objects or establish a subtype from an object. This greatly improves the efficiency and makes the code more readable as methods which are written only once can be used by a lot of subclasses. A superclass consists of common features that can be extended over subclasses. Superclass and subclass are commonly called base and derived class. The relationship between a subclass and superclass can be represented by a simple UML diagram as shown below.

UML Subclass.jpg

Consider the following example given here.

Advantages of subclassing:

Disadvantages of subclassing:

In some cases object composition is an alternative to class inheritance to achieve code re-usability. Here, new complex functionality is achieved by assembling or composing objects [1]. Unlike inheritance, composition relies on reuse of interface rather than implementation. Consider the new object as a large container [2]. Complex functionality is achieved in this larger container by placing smaller closed containers inside it. Every smaller object has its own independent implementation hidden from the outer container. Thus composition provides encapsulation in the true sense. This is why composition is also called the black box approach for code reuse. An example is given here.

Another concept related to object composition is that of Aggregation. Suppose we also use a class Person in the Chair class to represent the person occupying the chair [3]. Then this person is not initialized in the Chair class as a person has an existence irrespective of the chair, whereas the seat, backrest and legs do not have any existence without the chair.

Delegation is a way of making composition as powerful for reuse as inheritance [4]. Delegation involved two objects: a delegator who delegates a operation to another object, the delegatee. This can be compared to inheritance where a subclass "defers" request to the parent class for a method which is not overridden in the subclass [4]. The advantage of delegation over inheritance is that delegation allows composition behavior to occur dynamically at run-time, whereas inheritance causes the relationship to be established statically at compile-time. Although, overuse or delegation may make the code hard to understand and may invite runtime inefficiencies.

Few drawbacks/disadvantages of inheritance are given here.

After knowing the concepts above, few questions arise:

When to use Inheritance instead of Composition/Aggregation?

When to use Aggregation instead of Inheritance?

When to use Delegation instead of Inheritance?

Multiple Inheritance is one of the features of a few Object-oriented (OO) languages in which a class inherits properties (variables & methods) from more than one parent class . The former is called a sub or child class and the latter is called a super class or ancestor class. Here are the usage guidelines of multiple inheritance.A real world example of multiple inheritance is given here. C++ supports multiple inheritance. A detailed explantion is given here. JAVA doesn't support multiple inheritance but with the use of the concept called interface, multiple inheritance can be simulated. A more detailed explanation is available here. Ruby doesn't support multiple inheritance but provides a similar feature using modules and mixins. Advantages of Mixins are given here. Object oriented languages support inheritance through different mechanisms. Methods from parent classes can be re-implemented in child classes to improve the behavior of the child class without having to re-write the whole class or define a completely new method. As method re-implementation in descendant classes is achieved differently in different classes it is crucial to understand these mechanisms. A brief explanation of Multiple inheritance in Scala and Python is given here. Advantages and disadvantages of Multiple inheritance are given here. Because of few drawbacks(which are discussed above), few languages have implemented concepts like Modules and Mixins to emulate the power of multiple inheritance. Multiple Inheritance is supported by several object oriented languages such as C++, Ruby, Perl, Python etc.Implementation of multiple inheritance in each of these languages is compared here.

Object oriented languages support inheritance through different mechanisms. Methods from parent classes can be re-implemented in child classes to improve the behavior of the child class without having to re-write the whole class or define a completely new method. As method re-implementation in descendant classes is achieved differently in different classes it is crucial to understand these mechanisms.

The Object-Oriented programming paradigm has two ways for specifying objects,Set based language - object specification and Protocol based language - object specification. Re- implantation of methods in PHP 5 is given here.

Re- implantation of methods in Objective-C is given here. Re-implementation of Methods in Python is given here. Re- implantation of methods in Perl is given here.

The ‘extend’ feature in computer programming languages allows the programmer to dynamically extend the functionality of an object at run-time, as opposed to extending functionality at compile time. This feature can be found in most Object Oriented Programming (OOP) Languages, some of which are Java, JavaScript, and Ruby. Some OOP languages do not support the 'extend' feature, such as C++. Languages Using 'extend' Functionality are JAVA,JavaScript,Ruby. Advantages and disadvantages of 'extend' functionality are given here.

Access Control in Object Oriented Languages

In object oriented programming [5], access control refers to the control of visibility of data and methods. The main idea behind access control is to restrict access to certain parts of the code to external entities. Access control implements and handles O-O features like encapsulation [6] and inheritance [7] by providing varying levels of access to code. The use of access control becomes necessary in any practical environment where selective access is a key criterion. For example, only the instructor can be allowed to modify grades of students but all students should be given access to retrieve and view their respective grades.

Access control in different object oriented languages and the underlying details will be covered in this topic.

Each O-O language has a specific implementation of access control mechanisms. However, a plethora of the most widely used O-O languages share similar features while implementing access control. Access control mechanisms are applicable to class members like variables and functions. Some level of access control can be applied at the class level. The three basic types of access control implementation which is common to some static and dynamic O-O languages [8] [like C++, C#, Java and Ruby] are:

Programming languages implement access control in different ways. The most prominent two ways are encapsulation and inheritance. Few of the languages that use access control and their implementation is given here.

A comparison table of access control mechanisms among different O-O languages is given here.

As a good programming practice, these guidelines can be used to implement access control mechanisms.

The two most commonly used design patterns to handle access control are:

Advantages and disadvantages of Access Control are given here.

Generic Programming in Object Oriented Languages and Systems

Generic Programming is a programming paradigm for developing efficient and reusable software libraries. The Generic Programming process focuses on finding commonality among similar implementations of the same algorithm, then providing suitable abstractions so that a single, generic algorithm can cover many concrete implementations. This process is repeated until the generic algorithm has reached a suitable level of abstraction, where it provides maximal re-usability while still yielding efficient, concrete implementations.

In the simplest definition, generic programming is a style of computer programming in which algorithms are written in terms of to-be-specified-later types that are then instantiated when needed for specific types provided as parameters. This approach, pioneered by Ada in 1983, permits writing common functions or types that differ only in the set of types on which they operate on, thus reducing duplication. Such software entities are known as generics in Ada, Eiffel, Java and .NET; parametric polymorphism in ML, Scala and Haskell ; templates in C++; and parameterized types in the influential 1994 book, Design Patterns.

The term generic programming was originally coined by David Musser and Alexander Stepanov in a more specific sense than the above, to describe an approach to software decomposition whereby fundamental requirements on types are abstracted from across concrete examples of algorithms and data structures and formalized as concepts, analogously to the abstraction of algebraic theories in abstract algebra. Early examples of this programming approach were implemented in Scheme and Ada, although the best known example is the Standard Template Library (STL) in which is developed a theory of iterators which is used to decouple sequence data structures and the algorithms operating on them.

Generics in .NET framework is given here.

Generics in JAVA is given here.

Generics in C++ is given here.


Ruby is a dynamic, reflective, object oriented programming language which was first developed in mid 90s by Yukihiro "Matz" Matsumoto in Japan.[2]. It is a cross plat-form interpreted and object-oriented language. In Ruby, everything is an object and every operation is a method call on some object. It is designed for the principle of least surprise. Matz says "I wanted to minimize my frustration during programming, so I want to minimize my effort in programming. That was my primary goal in designing Ruby. I want to have fun in programming myself. After releasing Ruby and many people around the world got to know Ruby, they said they feel the way I feel. They came up with the phrase the principle of least surprise."[3] In 2004, web application framework of Ruby "Ruby on Rails" was introduced by David Heinemeier Hansson.Rails is a MVC (Model-View-Controller) based architecture for web development based on the Ruby language. Rails 2[4] was released in December 2007. Initially Rails 2 supported Ruby 1.8[5]. It now has been updated to support Ruby 1.9.1[6]. Rails 3 which brings in many improvements over Rails 2 supports Ruby 1.9 and above. The current stable version of Rails is 3.2.8[7] released on Aug 9, 2012.

Differences between Rails 2 vs Rails 3 is given here. With increased complexity of codes, it became essential to design a development environment which will include some intelligence in code writing with increased version control and simpler debugging. Popular IDEs for Ruby are RadRails,Netbeans,Textmate,Rubymine,jRuby and RDT. A brief outline is given on objects,classes and inheritance.Ruby can act as a set-based language and prototype-based language.

Objects in Ruby are explained here.

A Method is a Subroutine (or Procedure or Function) in a class that defines the behaviour exhibited by the associated Class instances at runtime. Methods defined within a Class are bound to the class either by Static binding or Dynamic binding. An example of a method in Ruby is given here.Instance methods,static methods,accessor methods are different kinds of methods. A closure is basically a method/function that has the following two properties:

A normal function is defined in a particular scope (i.e. in a class) and can only be called within that scope. This function has access to all the variables in the scope that it is defined, like the parameters that are passed into it as well as class variables. A closure on the other hand may be defined in one scope and be called in a completely different scope (since we can pass it around before calling it). Because of this, when a closure is created, it retains the values of all the variables that were in scope when the closure was defined. Even if the variables are generally no longer in scope when the closure is called, within the closure they still are. In other words, the closure retains knowledge of its lexical environment at the time it was defined. Examples of closures are given here. Instance variables in ruby are defined.Advantages of closures are given here. Closures in dynamically typed languages are given here. Closures in statically typed languages is given here. The use of closures in other languages is given here. here challenges due to lack of closures in Statically typed languages.

Class variables and class methods in Ruby are defined here.The basic syntax to declare them as class variables and instance variables is also given. Ruby Modules are similar to classes in that they hold a collection of methods,constants and other module and class definitions.Modules definition is similar to classes just that we use the keyword module instead of the class keyword.Unlike classes, objects cannot be created based on modules nor can it be sub classed.However, it can be specified that the functionality of one module should be added to another class, or a specific object. Uses and examples of modules are given here. The most interesting fact about the use of modules is to define mixins. When a module is included within a class,all its functionality becomes available to the class.Modules can contain class methods and instance methods. Mixins are different from #include and multiple inheritance and this is demonstrated here. More about Mixins can be found here.

A method that belongs to a class is called by creating an object of the class and passing the method name to the object as a message. The object then looks up the method lookup path and tries to match the called method with the defined methods in the class. On success, the method is executed and the result is returned. If the object does not find a match in its method lookup, in normal circumstances the NoMethodError Exception is raised . In cases where the user wants to handle the methods which are not defined but are still called, “method_missing” can be defined and the user can handle the methods as he/she sees fit. Here is the format for method missing and Ruby method look up flow. Examples of method missing are given here. Advantages and disadvantages of method missing are given here. Method missing, one of the dynamic features of Ruby, is not a feature that is unique to Ruby. It exists in Smalltalk, Python, Groovy, some Javascripts and most CLOS (Common Lisp Object System)extensions. In this section we look at the few such similar implementations in other languages. The table here gives different ways the functionality related to method_missing is handled in other languages.[10] Here are few patterns of method missing.

The yield function in Ruby passes control to a user-defined code block. More about yield function is given here.

Namespace in C++ is similar to modulesIn general, a namespace is a container for a set of identifiers (names), and allows the disambiguation of homonym identifiers residing in different namespaces.Namespace usually group names based on their functionality. Usage of namespaces and its example is given here. Multiple inheritance in C++ similar to mixins.You can derive a class from any number of base classes. Deriving a class from more than one direct base class is called multiple inheritance. An example is given here. Interfaces in JAVA is similar to mixins.A Java interface defines a set of methods but does not implement them.A class that implements the interface agrees to implement all of the methods defined in the interface, thereby agreeing to certain behavior, thereby implementing multiple inheritance. Properties of an interface are:

An example is given over here.Comparison between mixins and interfaces and given here. Comparable and Enumerable are commonly used mixins.

Ruby has simplified the way programmers use loops and iterators. Ruby helps programmers to use Don't Repeat Yourself (DRY) principle effectively by using blocks and defining iterators over collections.[11] This helps in minimizing the development work that programmers often find in any other O-O style programming language. In ruby, these iterators, blocks and functional idioms are explained as:

Iterators are Collection defined methods that helps to iterate over all the elements present in a Collection.[12] Ruby Collections are basically objects that store a group of data members of various types. Examples of Collection are arrays, hashes etc.
A block consists of chunks of codes with a name assigned to it.[13] For example,

  my_block { puts "Hello World" }

Different types of iterators in Ruby are times iterator,upto iterator,step iterator,each iterator,collect iterator,map iterator. Ruby allows programmers to define their own iterator other than the iterators listed above. For example if a programmer wishes to define an iterator which prints an array in reverse order, then he can do so as shown here. Blocks are the most commonly used form of closures in Ruby. We can find them all over the core Ruby libraries. They are nameless functions and can be passed anywhere.A Block consists of a chunk of codes with a name assigned to it.Alternately, a block is a code which is passed to the iterator. These blocks can either be defined by enclosing them in curly braces or by using the do...end syntax as shown here. Procs are nameless block of code that can be represented as an object and can be passed around or called at will.Lambdas are a more strict form of proc.

Multiple Inheritance has several disadvantages that can lead to ambiguous code behavior either during compile time or run time.Ruby does not support directMultiple Inheritance. But, Multiple Inheritance can be achieved in Ruby through Modules. Modules simulate multiple inheritance in Ruby.Given here is the Taggable-string example taken from the Class notes of CSC517, NCSU. Suppose we want to add tags to Strings, we can define a Taggable module and include it into the class. Multiple inheritance may cause name conflicts when a sub-class inherits different super-classes that contain the methods or variables with the same name. This can be resolved in many ways. Advantages and disadvantages of multiple inheritance are given here.

Expression orientation[14] in ruby refers to the mechanism of applying a series of operation on collections ( e.g. arrays, hashes etc ) without actually modifying the original collection. For example, consider the sort method in ruby. The sort method when called on an array creates a temporary array having the same elements as that of the original array. It then sorts this temporary array and returns that.

Functional idioms refers to the various constructs in ruby that mimics [Functional Programming Language Functional Programming Language. Most programmers argue that Ruby is actually an Object Oriented Programming Language and it does not behaves as per the functional programming paradigm.

Regular expressions are extremely powerful.Rubywas built as a better Perl hence it supports regular expressions.Regular expression is sort of a string used to match to other strings.In ruby regular expressions are written in the format /pattern/modifiers where pattern is the regular expression and modifiers are the series of characters specifying the various options. More on regular expressions can be found here.

JRuby is the Ruby Programming Language on the JVM. Ruby is a reflective, dynamic, and interpreted object-oriented scripting language. JRuby is a Java programming language implementation of the Ruby language syntax with all the core libraries plus the standard libraries. With JRuby, you get all of the advantages of Ruby plus access to the full range of Java platform functionality. This can be achieved using the following two flavors.

Some examples where this integration can be done are:

More about JRuby is given here. Advantages of JRuby over JAVA and Ruby is given here. Few difficulties of JRuby are addressed here.

Setting up testing environment for Rails is given here.

Testing approaches must have a logico-mathematical form, i.e., have one right answer. There are different approaches to software testing and are classified into different levels, depending on the stage of Software Development Life cycle (SDLC) in which it is done. The different levels are unit testing,integration testing,system testing,system integration testing and performance testing. Fixtures are used for testing in Rails.

Ruby provides a framework in its standard library for setting up, organizing, and running tests called Test::Unit [15]. Other testing frameworks available for Ruby are Shoulda, RSpec and Cucumber. Comparison of Unit Test Frameworks:RSpec,Shoulda and Cucumber is given here. More on testing in Ruby is given here.

Redirection refers to redirection of incoming request from one page to another. HTTP is stateless, hence redirection with session/flash makes it stateful.As the http requests are stateless,it leads to losing the state of the previous request. Thus Rails provides hash called Flash which persist until the end of the next request received and Session hash, which unlike flash persists forever. The working,example,advantages and disadvantages of flash/session is given here.

Forms in web applications are an essential interface for user input. However, form markup can quickly become tedious to write and maintain because of form control naming and their numerous attributes. Rails deals away with these complexities by providing view helpers for generating form markup.[1] Rails provides excellent features to create forms and gather user input. Forms in Rails are an effective way to obtain user input in a convenient manner. Forms can include different types of data fields that will help obtain different types of data. For example, Text box can fetch a few words from the user and Text Area, a paragraph. Forms are embedded in a Web Application and are very user-friendly. Forms in Rails also have in-built functionalities to verify the data the user enters, validate it using a set of predefined rules, display corresponding error messages(in case of non-compliance) and storing the information in the database if it passes validation.

Detailed description about creating forms is given here. The action attribute in Rails Forms specifies what to do when a Form is submitted.

In rails,routes are used to automatically direct a HTTP request to the appropriate controller action. With the help of routes one can easily name and configure a URL path i.e the routing engine can figure out where to go and which action to invoke for a given URL. This also works in reverse, which in turn reduces the rigidness in your application structure. Views are used to render forms or data to the user. It displays only necessary information and hides internal workings from the user. In views it is more about presentation of data than the data itself. More focus is given to layout and template so as to make it easily readable for the end user.

Helpers can be used to define any piece of code which will be called many times by the view. Helper methods mainly are used to provide functionality in the views. Also default helper programs can used for otherwise cumbersome to implement functions like date etc

General steps to create forms and things to do with forms is given here.

Here is a sample form.

Object-Oriented Domain-Specific Languages (OODSL)

An OODSL[16][17] is a Domain-specific language (DSL) that exhibits characteristics that have traditionally been attributed to Object-Oriented Languages

Although OO languages and Domain specific languages have been around for several years, OODSLs are relatively new.

OO languages can be either general purpose like C++, Java and Ruby, or domain specific, like Jquery and Kiddo. The following example shows how the two kinds of languages would work if used in the real world.

The General Purpose Programming way of ordering hash browns at Waffle House[18]

Harvest the potato, wash it, and chop it into little pieces. Put the pieces in a pan with oil and fry till they turn golden brown, and then drain the oil away and put them on a plate. Now cut some jalapeno peppers and spread on the potatoes. Then add cheese, which you can get by milking a cow and.....

The OODSL way of ordering hash browns at Waffle House

I would like it Scattered, Smothered, and Peppered please. Thanks!

For a person who works at Waffle House, or goes there regularly to eat, it is a no brainer that the second method is much more efficient. OODSLs take advantage of the context within which communication takes place. By using implicitly understood jargon, the task at hand can be accomplished in a way that is easier to comprehend for a specialized type of user.

OODSLs can be of 2 types:

A brief history on OODSL is given here. Languages which incorporate OODSL are given here. A running example for creating an OODSL in Groovy is given here.

When creating an OODSL, one can either choose to start from scratch or use a tool that is already available. Creating a language from scratch gives the programmer a certain amount of flexibility to define it the way he wants to, but it takes a lot of time. Therefore, in general, software tools are used to aid in the process of creating Domain Specific Languages. This is because it not only saves time, but also helps to make the language easy to use due to familiarity with the syntax of the underlying language. Few tools which are used to create OODSL are Boo,Visual Studio and Groovy.

Differences between OODSL and non-OODSL is given here.

Aspect Oriented Programming (AOP)

Aspect Oriented Programming (AOP) refers to a new way of designing software. It aims to increase modularity by allowing the separation of cross-cutting concerns. AOP includes programming methods and tools that support the modularization of concerns at the level of the source code. It is not a replacement to popular Object Oriented Programming (OOP), but is complimentary to it. The need of AOP with an example(The banking example) is given here. The advice-related component of an aspect-oriented language defines a join point model (JPM). A JPM defines three things:

AspectJ is AOP in JAVA. AOP in Ruby is given here. We saw how AOP can be implemented in Ruby without any extra support in the above sections.AspectR is free library which provides API's to the same for Ruby. Differences between AspectR and AspectJ is given here.

Object-Relational Mapping

Object-Relational Mapping (ORM) is a methodology for managing data between object oriented systems and relational databases. The premise of the concept is to provide a universal method to access data in a database. This is beneficial for all programming languages that can use objects to store and retrieve data from the database. There are many languages that are using ORM as a technique to manage database data. In the rest of the article, we will discuss ORM and some of the languages in use today.

Language extensions for ORM have often been traditionally classified as design patterns or software tools used to perform basic create, read, update and delete (C.R.U.D.) operations on relational databases, that is, until recent new approaches such as ActiveRecord have grown in popularity. ActiveRecord is not just a design pattern it is an increase of function to the active record pattern approach by adding inheritance and associations. Examining ActiveRecord and other language extensions will allow for comparisons of the ease of programming using these language extensions verses the conventional database oriented systems approach.

All too often programmers are faced with the challenge of persisting objects from their program into a datastore. Custom code is created for this purpose that can be complex or difficult for others to understand as well as not seem natural. Applications that are designed to persist data have the need to know how the objects correspond to the information stored in these database tables. Ruby on Rails, first released in 2005, is able to provide a uniform method to help resolve these complicated issues without sacrificing function or knowledge of these objects by using ActiveRecord (AR). AR is a persistence engine that comes as part of Ruby on Rails. "It creates a 'persistable' domain model from business objects and database tables, where logic and data are presented as a unified package" 3. AR is admired for its simplistic and elegant approach of removing these levels of complexity. It allows for a 'pluggable' solution to many different popular databases available today to include: MySQL, SQLite, SQL Server, PostgreSQL, and Oracle.

ActiveRecord uses a Single Table Inheritance to allow for inheritance capabilities and provides a set of macros for association relationships between classes of objects, such as belongs_to, has_one, has_many, etc. AR is not only a component of the Model view-controller (MVC) for Ruby on Rails but it is also a standalone ORM package for Ruby itself. Ruby, Ruby on Rails, and ActiveRecord continue to grow in popularity due to not only the curiosity of programmers but their ability to improve function and feature sets while maintaining the initial intent of the language, "trying to make Ruby natural, not simple" -- Yukihiro “matz” Matsumoto 8. Other languages have been able to learn from AR and have tried to add this capability for themselves. Let’s take a closer look at some other implementations that attempts to duplicate AR’s elegance.

Other examples of Language Extensions are ADO.NET Entity Framework,Django,Enterprise Objects Framework,Hibernate,JazzRecord.

Programming using Language Extensions is given briefly here.


Metaprogramming is the writing of computer programs that write or manipulate other programs (or themselves) as their data, or that do part of the work at compile time that would otherwise be done at runtime. In some cases, this allows programmers to minimize the number of lines of code to express a solution (hence reducing development time), or it gives programs greater flexibility to efficiently handle new situations without recompilation. Typically, you use a metaprogram to eliminate or reduce a tedious or error-prone programming task. So, for example, instead of writing a machine code program by hand, you would use a high-level language, such as C, and then let the C compiler do the translation to the equivalent low-level machine instructions. Here is a metaprogramming example.

Statically typed languages are those which define and enforce types at compile-time. Statically typed languages typically have clearly distinct compile-time and run-time phases, with program code converted by a compiler into a binary executable which is then run separately. Dynamically typed languages have distinct compilation and execution phases and therefore we use the terms compile-time and run-time identically for both statically and dynamically typed languages. In most dynamically typed languages (e.g. Ruby, Perl, and Python) ‘running’ a file both compiles and executes it.

Metaprogramming in dynamically typed languages is given here.

Metaprogramming in Ruby is given here.

Advantages and disadvantages of metaprogramming are given here.

Databases and Migration

A Database[19] is a coherent collection of data with inherent meaning. Random assortment of data is not a database. Data is organized in order to model relevant aspects of reality, so that it supports processes requiring this data. Data Migration is related to transfer of data between storage types, formats, or computer systems. This is performed programmatically to accomplish an automated migration so that humans are free from doing this repetitive task.

A Database is nothing more than a collection of meaningful information. Databases can be of multiple types, for example Distributed Databases, Relational Databases, Flat File Databases. A database could be as simple as a text file with a list of names or it can even be very complex as a large relational database management system.

  1. Banking Systems where accounts are maintained and it is made sure that money does not disappear as a result of system failure.
  2. Airline Reservation Systems where the plane details, the airport details and the customer details are maintained.
  3. Hotel Management Systems where the availability of rooms, the rates and the customer details are maintained.

A brief description about migrations in database is given here.

Creation and updating migrations is given here. Creating a Standalone Migration is given here.

Anatomy of migrations is given here.

Relationship between Model and Migration is given here.

Applying Migration to Development and Production is given here.

How to run a specific migration is given here.

Rolling Back a Migration is given here.

Here are the few problems with migration.

Advantages and disadvantages of Migration are given here.

Design Patterns

"Each pattern describes a problem which occurs over and over again in our environment, and then describes the core of the solution to that problem, in such a way that you can use this solution a million times over, without ever doing it the same way twice" - Christopher Alexander

"In software engineering, a design pattern is a general reusable solution to a commonly occurring problem within a given context in software design".

A Design Pattern is a template to solve a problem which can be used in many different situations. It names, abstracts and identifies the key aspects of a common design structure that makes it useful for creating a reusable object - oriented design. Design Patterns in Object - Oriented Languages help show the relationship between the different classes and objects in the program. Design Patterns are tools for building software.

A design pattern is a general reusable solution to a commonly occurring problem within a given context in software design

The different types of design patterns can be categorized and listed as below:

Creational Pattern, which help create the objects for the user, instead of having the user to instantiate the object.

Structural Pattern, which employ interfaces to achieve inheritance to enable objects to obtain new functionality.

Behavioral Pattern, which are concerned with communication between objects.

The Active Record pattern is a Design pattern in Software Engineering which deals with the approach to store and access data in a database.A brief introduction on Active Record Pattern is given here.

Naming conventions for Active Record Pattern is given here.

CRUD stands for 'Create', 'Read' , 'Update' and 'Delete'. These are the four basic operations which are generally performed on tables in a database. The ActiveRecord module provides predefined methods for the basic CRUD operations for the model.

Details about how you connect to the databaseis given here.

Migrations help to version the various changes made to databases. It also allow developers to track a set of changes made to production or development databases and to rollback to a previous version if needed. Building a migration is given here.

Associations are used to connect two models. The association is used to describe the role of relations that models are having with each other. ActiveRecord associations can be used to describe one-to-one (1:1), one-to-many (1:n) and many-to-many (n:m) relationships between models. Associations are used to make common operations simpler and easier in your code. Rails supports six types of associations:

belongs_to and has_one form a one-to-one relationship. has_one :through is a different way to create a one-to-one relationship. has_many and belongs_to form a one-to-many relation. has_and_belongs_to_many or an alternative way has_many :through to create a many-to-many relationship Little about design patterns in Ruby is explained here.

A Comparison table for singleton,adapter,command and strategy pattern is given here.


Currying is a term which is associated with Mathematics and computer science. Currying is the mathematical process of using a function with multiple arguments such that a string of multiple functions with single argument can be called to realize the same function. In other words, currying is defined as delayed function of incomplete arguments which works normally when arguments are supplied. Back in 1924 Moses Ilyich Schönfinkel, a Russian logician, discovered this property of function. But this discovery of his was later re discovered and built upon by Haskell Curry , an American mathematician and logician. In honor of the contributions made by Haskell Curry the technique was named after him. Definition of currying is given here. Here are few applications of currying. Differences between Partial functions and Currying are given here. The main advantage of currying is that it provides a way to proof read the functions and check whether all have been applied uniformly on all the arguments. There are other advantages as well like decreasing the amount of complicated codes and hence high level of maintainability. This when compared to partials becomes more accurate for same reason. But as the cliche goes, every coin has two sides, there are few disadvantages of currying as well. The major disadvantage of currying is that it has performance issues. The code is though simple but might result in lengthy ones when compared to partials and hence calling the curried functions might fetch slow performance rate. Uncurrying is de-functaionlization of curried functions. It takes additional parameters along with curried function to return the actual function with all the arguments. Multiple iterations might be required to get back the original (uncurried) function.


A common feature of today’s web applications is to retrieve data from a data store and display it for the user. The system stores the updates in the data store when the user changes the data. The flow of information between the data store and the user interface might compel the computer programmer to tie these two pieces together to reduce the amount of coding. This approach has significant problems. User interface logic tends to change more frequently than business logic, especially in Web-based applications. If user interface code and business logic are combined in a single object, you have to modify an object containing business logic every time you change the user interface. Also, in most cases, the application displays the same data in different ways. Tight coupling between the presentation and business logic would mean that the same code is repeated at multiple places. This reduces the maintainability and flexibility of the application.

The Model-View-Controller MVC pattern separates the modeling of the business logic, the presentation, and the actions based on user input into three separate classes:

 * Model: The model manages the behavior and data of the application domain. It responds to requests for the user    
                interface(view),and responds to instructions from the controller to change state.
 * View: The view refers to the user interface and manages the display of information
 * Controller: The controller interprets the inputs from the user, informing the model and/or the view to change appropriately.

A brief history and research about MVC architecture is given here.

The classical MVC concept is more suited for desktop applications than typical web applications. In desktop applications you have a direct connect between UI components and the responsible controller or presenter. In web applications the HTML for a complete screen is sent to the browser. The user actions in the UI are sent to the web server in the form of a request. This request has to be interpreted and normally the new or updated screen has to be sent to the browser again. The HTML for the complete screen can be understood as a set of widgets (or subviews). For example it can contain a "main menu", a "news list", a "basket" etc. The web server always needs to generate the complete view with all its subviews. The working of MVC framework in web application development is given here.

MVC Architecture is explained briefly here.

Recently MVC has become a very popular strategy for building websites. There are quite a few programming languages for which the MVC-Web framework is now available. Struts for Java, Maypole for Perl and Rails for Ruby are some to name a few. A brief introduction of the MVC pattern in Ruby on Rails and Struts is given here. Spring framework and Java Server Faces are two examples of MVC pattern. Advantages and disadvantages of MVC pattern is given here.

Cookbook Application is a very basic Ruby on Rails application. It is a great way to understand the nuances that ‘Ruby’ has to offer. It is built keeping in mind that the reader is new to the world of ruby and is developing his/her first Ruby on Rails application. A sample Cookbook application is given here.

Behavior-Driven Design

Behaviour Driven Design( abbreviated BDD) is a software development methodology which involves incorporating stakeholder’s point of view in the development of the software. The software is implemented by taking into consideration its behavior as described by its stakeholders.

BDD was developed by Dan North .BDD comes under agile development. Agile development came into picture to overcome the reasons for software project failure.Some of the reasons for software project failure are:[20]

Agile development involves stakeholder participation throughout the lifetime of the product. BDD helps achieve this objective of agile development.User stories are written in BDD to describe the feature that is to be implemented.User stories can then be used to write tests to check the behaviour desired by the stakeholder.Test Driven Development approach can then be used to implement the system.

BDD is explained in detail here.

JBehave and RBehave are the two popular frameworks that support BDD.

The steps for the BDD approach is given here.

Advantages and disadvantages of BDD and User Stories are given here.

Cucumber is one of the latest additions to the RSpec family of tools for testing in Ruby. Testing is one of the most important parts of the Ruby culture. It allows programmers and software development teams to describe feature based tests in plain text definitions known as "stories". This text is written in a business readable domain-specific language(DSL), most widely used is Gherkin, although you can use testing environment specific languages also like the Capbara DSL

Though Cucumber is a testing tool, the main intent of its development is to support Behavior Driven Development(BDD) which is derived from Test Driven Development. This implies that the tests written in DSL are typically written before any other part of the code is written. It is analysed by the non technical stakeholders and then the production code is written. The production code is thus written outside-in, in such a way that the tests pass.

Cucumber provides support for a wide range of Ruby virtual machines such as JRuby, alternative application frameworks such as Sinatra, other programming languages such as Python, test environments such as Capybara and provides i18n language support for feature and step files.

Capybara is a testing environment that simulates the manner in which a real world user would interact with the application. It requires no explicit setup for Rails applications. The most powerful feature of Capybara is that it has a very intuitive application program interface that understands any language an actual user would use. With the libraries and drivers provided by Capybara for deploying web applications and for interacting with service applications, the testing requires minimum amount of coding.

A brief history about Cucumber is given here.

Setting up Cucumber is given here.

Cucumber testing comprises of two components namely:

Setting up Capybara is given here.

An example of running Cucumber tests on Capybara is given here.

The advantages of Cucumber are given here.

Code Reuse

Code reuse, also known as software reuse is the practice of using the same segment of code in multiple applications. The definition, overview and a brief history of code reuse is found here. There are several techniques in code reuse. Code can be reused by using simple coding. For example, using a single line of code, we can reuse the code.Procedures and macros are the low level code reuse techniques.Methods can be used in code reuse, a method can be defined and declared multiple times wherever required. An individual software component is a software package, a Web service, or a module that encapsulates a set of related functions. All system processes are placed into separate components so that all of the data and functions inside each component are semantically related. Because of this principle, it is often said that components are modular and cohesive. With the help of Packages,modules and inheritance, we can achieve code reuse. Generators,Software architectures, code scavenging, Transformational systems, Very High Level Languages (VHLL) are more techniques of code reuse. Here are some of the best practices to be followed to make sure that the code that is being written is reusable. Advantages and disadvantages of code reuse can be found here. Here are few of the tradeoffs for code reuse at various levels of components.

Collection Framework

A Collection is a data structure representing a group of data items sharing common properties (or state) and behaviour. Generally data items represents object of same type and their behaviour is governed by the set of operation that can be performed on them. An Array also represents a group of related objects but Array are not considered as collection because an array can only hold a fixed number of items however size of collection is variable, or dynamic. In sum, a collection can be viewed as a single object containing multiple numbers of elements. Few collection types include trees, sets, ArrayList, Dictionary etc.

In order to create, manage and manipulate collection, we have collection framework which depicts representation and manipulation of collection elements independent of their implementation details. It defines application programming interfaces (API’s) consisting of classes and interfaces for manipulating data in collection.

Here are few advantages of collection framework.

Elements of collection framework: a) Collection Interfaces b) Implementations c) Algorithm

Implementation of Collection framework in .NET is given here.


Scaffold is a temporary platform, either supported from below or suspended from above, on which workers sit or stand when performing tasks at heights above the ground. Because of its nature of its use, it must made sure that it is properly constructed and ensures the safety of those who use it. Deriving from the analogy above, scaffolding in web application framework refers to providing a minimal setup for various components that make a web application. These components include but are not limited to databases, application servers and web servers. Such scaffolds are generally standard, bare minimal and reusable components that are automatically generated.

A typical web application contains a database layer for retrieval and storage of information. The basic operations performed to access the database are grouped into the following types, which are commonly referred to as the CRUD functionality.


A scaffold for web application will typically provide stubs for performing the above mentioned CRUD functions. This boilerplate code provides the essential infrastructure to develop a web application in quick time.

MVC framework is a popular web application framework that separates concerns and applications into model, view and controllers. In MVC, scaffolding will usually create basic model, views and controllers and also the database objects needed. The origin and evolution of scaffolding is given here. Scaffolding in MVC based web frameworks is given here. Apache Tapestry is an open-source framework for creating dynamic, robust, highly scalable web applications in Java. Tapestry complements and builds upon the standard Java Servlet API, and so it works in any servlet container or application server. Tapestry includes some scaffolding components that generate code at runtime thus allowing an application to be dynamically assembled at runtime. The two main scaffolding components are

BeanEditForm - A component that creates an entire form editing the properties of a particular bean. It generates a simple UI for editing the properties of a JavaBean, with the flavor of UI for each property (text field, checkbox, drop down list) determined from the property type (or by other means, such as an annotation), and the order and validation for the properties determined from annotations on the property's getter and setter methods. Grid - A grid presents tabular data. It is a composite component, created in terms of several sub-components. The sub-components are statically wired to the Grid, as it provides access to the data and other models that they need. A Grid may operate inside a form.


Refactoring is a technique for restructuring existing code. It is defined as altering the code's internal structure without changing its external behavior. It is done as a series of small transformations which together produce significant restructuring. Since each transformation is small, it's less likely to go wrong. The system is also kept fully working after each small transformation, reducing the chances that a system can get seriously broken during the restructuring.When people make small changes to the code without fully understanding its design, the code loses its structure, which eventually has a cumulative effect. If the developer cannot understand the code design, then it becomes more difficult for him to preserve it. Timely refactoring helps the code to retain its shape. Automated refactoring refers to refactoring which is under the developers control. What we mean by this is that, the system is not responsible for deciding what refactoring is required, rather this is the job of the developer. Automated refactoring is a feature of most widely used IDE's today, which helps expedite the task of refactoring for the developers. In this article, we are aiming at describing the various techniques for automated refactoring. This article gives a clear understanding of these techniques which are illustrated with examples. We have also given a comparison of the refactoring functionality provided by various frequently used IDE's.

Common Refactoring Techniques are:

Few other refactoring techniques are given here.

A table regarding Refactoring support in popular IDE(s)is given here.


Reflection is a relatively common computer programming concept where in the program has the inherent ability to examine itself at run time. Based on its observations the program can modify it's behavior for the given situation.The modifications can be any aspect of the programming language .i.e syntax, semantics, or implementation. Precisely, "Reflection" can be defined as a language's ability to inspect and dynamically call classes, methods, attributes, etc. at runtime. More advanced uses of reflection let you list and call methods, constructors, etc. A little more introduction about reflection is found here. There are many challenges faced by designers of reflective languages. They must provide as much leeway as possible for late binging and at the same time they must optimize the compilation of the static components so that they are ready for run-time. Reflection is in essense a connection between the object-level (program) and meta-level (the processor). The ability of the object level to be able to observe and modify the meta-level information is the consequence of this connection. These actions can be termed as introspection (This involves the action of observing the class) and intercession (this involves the operation of modifying the behavior of the class). These actions can implemented with the implementation of the following components:

A brief history of Reflection is given here. There are two basic types of reflection. They are:

There are two techniques used by reflective systems:

A brief comparison between Reflective Languages Features and Reflective Packages is given [8]. Features,advantages,disadvantages of reflection in C#,JAVA,Ruby,Smalltalk,PHP is given [ here]. Applications of reflection are given here. Comparison of reflection in different languages is given here. Advantages and disadvantages of reflection are given here.

CRC Cards

CRC Cards, also known as Class-Responsibility-Collaboration cards are a brainstorming tool to enable collaboration across different teams or individuals in contribution to design, usually used in Object Oriented Software development. This was proposed by Ward Cunningham and Kent Beck[9]. The CRC card can be viewed as an index card, with the following details:

CRC Card Structure
  • The Top of the card usually bears the name of the class.
  • The Left side of the card has the responsibilities of the class.
  • The Right side of the card has the collaborating classes corresponding to each of the responsibilities listed in the left side.

Thus in general, a CRC session can be viewed as the interaction between a set of collaborating classes for a particular Use case.

According to [10]A CRC session proceeds with someone simulating the system by talking about which objects send messages to other objects. By stepping through the process' weaknesses and problems are easily uncovered. Design alternatives can be explored quickly by simulating the design being proposed.

To better understand how the CRC cards work together, let us consider a simple student enrollment problem,where we are required to model the students enrolled in different courses. We can easily define the Student CRC Card as having attributes such as student name, student id and responsibilities that enable a student to enroll in a course or drop the course. In this particular instance, the collaborating class would be the Course class. The Course CRC Card can in turn be visualized as having its own responsibilities, such as having attributes like Course id, course name and the collaborating class would be the Instructor class. The CRC cards for the Student class and the Course Class are shown below.

Student and Course CRC Card

There are also several practical designs that use the CRC card model to design Object oriented software design. The Simulator for Coffee Maker explores an Extreme Programming approach combined with CRC card technique to come up with a design for the coffee maker.

Another interesting approach using CRC cards is the design for the ATM Machine

There are a few advantages of CRC cards that make it a preferable model in many designs. Some of the advantages of the CRC card design method are

  • CRC cards can allow designers to easily make audience understand a very complex system. In essence it allows for building more complex designs by slowly building the interactions between the collaborating classes, one by one.
  • CRC cards are a simple technique and it can be easily used by anyone with very little training and does not require any expensive computing resources(a board or a paper and a pen would suffice).
  • CRC is fundamentally a brainstorming tool, enabling different people in a team to come up with the design by collaborating, enabling everyone in the team to contribute
  • CRC can be used with other formal object oriented design methodologies such as Extreme Programming (an Agile development Technique) and can be used along with modeling languages such as Unified Modeling Language(UML)

An example of CRC cards is given here. There are a few advantages of CRC cards that make it a preferable model in many designs. Some of the advantages of the CRC card design method are

  • CRC cards can allow designers to easily make audience understand a very complex system. In essence it allows for building more complex designs by slowly building the interactions between the collaborating classes, one by one.
  • CRC cards are a simple technique and it can be easily used by anyone with very little training and does not require any expensive computing resources(a board or a paper and a pen would suffice).
  • CRC is fundamentally a brainstorming tool, enabling different people in a team to come up with the design by collaborating, enabling everyone in the team to contribute
  • CRC can be used with other formal object oriented design methodologies such as Extreme Programming (an Agile development Technique) and can be used along with modeling languages such as Unified Modeling Language(UML)

CRC cards have limited scope. If we go about designing a huge project, the scope may span many classes and there might be numerous interactions between them. The tedious task here is to maintain the CRC cards and formulate appropriate interaction between them. We need software for CRC Cards for these reasons.Here are the steps for designing software for CRC cards. Software Development Life Cycles are different for a standard development process and for Object Oriented development. This difference needs to be understood in order to know how to meet the benchmarks set for the project. There are multiple processes that are used in software development, the most common ones in use being Waterfall model and Spiral model. The Waterfall model is progression based and the Spiral model is iterative. We need to understand that the uniqueness of Object Oriented SDLCs comes from the fact that it is more user centric as compared to standard SDLCs that are more system centric. We will now see which models work for Object Oriented SDLCs (OO SDLCs) and which don’t. CRC cards play a very important role in an Object Oriented SDLC. Thus, figuring out which models work well for OO SDLCs will result in understanding which models use CRC cards and why. The strength of OO model depends on the idea that, here, design and deployment come together. In the case of a spiral model, this works to make the spiral tighter. Since the waterfall model places over importance on deliverables and user involvement is minimal, which is one of the key focuses of OO SLDCs using CRC cards, the model is considered ineffective. The Spiral model involves multiple revisions of the same idea. When a set of cards have been developed, it would make sense to refine the idea presented in the card but not to redefine them over and over, which may be the case. This does not serve the purpose of actually convening a CRC discussion among the team to draw up cards corresponding to the user requirement. Moreover, in the case of the Spiral model, we would need to convene multiple such meetings at each iteration, which would drastically bring down the overall productivity of the team. CRC cards are used widely for software development processes. More about this can be found here.

Version Control System

A version control system (VCS) is a process for managing software codes,files and directory structures and corresponding updates made to them during software development, web development etc. project or during subsequent project maintenances. Version control is also known as revision control, source control or software configuration management (SCM)[6]. Any software development project is a dynamic and fast paced environment. In a typical setting, development for a project is performed simultaneously by many developers. Thus, incorporating all the changes made, either simultaneously or at different times, poses a new type of challenge. The need of version control systems is given here. VCS' can be broadly categorized into three groups based on the repository model:

Criteria for selecting a particular version control system:

Examples of version control systems:

UML Representation

The Unified Modeling Language standard specifies graphical notations for object oriented models. Representations of inheritance,composition and aggregation are given here.


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