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Spike solutions and refactoring - a Python example

Refactoring - taking a program that works (as far as it goes) and restructuring it so that it can go much further - that its code can be reusable, that it's more robust, that it can be updated to do more, and so on.

Spike Solution - an answer to a problem that can go no further, and perhaps ignores lots of special cases, typically written as a proof of concept or as a training exercise.

We write a lot of spike solutions during our courses - demonstrations that will go no further, programs that rely on the user's inputs being sensible because they're not validated, code which isn't easily reused because of its very specific nature with values hard-coded into it. And we right those because data validation and code structuring take time, and if we're teaching (say) Python's lists and tuples, we don't want to dilute the teaching and extend the course to the extent that the delegates can't see the wood for the trees.

One of the exercises on our Python course asks the user to take the following tuple:
  mlen = (31,28,31,30,31,30,31,31,30,31,30,31)
and produce two lists with 365 elements each. The first list is to contain the number 1 31 times, then the number 2 28 times, and so on - so that a user of the list can look up a day number of the year and (in a single reference to the list) know what month that day is in. A second list is also produced, containing 1 through 31, then 1 through 28, then 1 through 31, and so on - thus giving the ability to look up any day number of the year and tell you which day number it is within a month.

The first sample answer - spike solution is [here]. It's about half a dozen lines of code, and those code.

Refactoring, we may wish to make full use of those lists within other code, and we'll also wish to be able to handle special cases like leap years. Better, then, to write the code as a series of functions and add a test harness. And add sample output too. Much longer code - see [here]. And can't be done until we've covered functions later in the course.

We do emphasise good structure, good commenting and good documentation throughout our courses. But we also emphasise practical programming and exercises, and at time there's a very great deal to be gained by using a spike solution to learn, to test algorithms, and to experiment.
(written 2012-06-13, updated 2012-06-16)

 
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
Q907 - Object Orientation and General technical topics - Object Orientation: Design Techniques
  [4628] Associative objects - one object within another. - (2016-01-20)
  [4449] Spike solution, refactoring into encapsulated object methods - good design practise - (2015-03-05)
  [4430] The spirit of Java - delegating to classes - (2015-02-18)
  [4374] Test driven development, and class design, from first principles (using C++) - (2014-12-30)
  [4098] Using object orientation for non-physical objects - (2013-05-22)
  [3978] Teaching OO - how to avoid lots of window switching early on - (2013-01-17)
  [3928] Storing your intermediate data - what format should you you choose? - (2012-11-20)
  [3887] Inheritance, Composition and Associated objects - when to use which - Python example - (2012-10-10)
  [3878] From Structured to Object Oriented Programming. - (2012-10-02)
  [3844] Rooms ready for guests - each time, every time, thanks to good system design - (2012-08-20)
  [3798] When you should use Object Orientation even in a short program - Python example - (2012-07-06)
  [3760] Why you should use objects even for short data manipulation programs in Ruby - (2012-06-10)
  [3607] Designing your application - using UML techniques - (2012-02-11)
  [3454] Your PHP website - how to factor and refactor to reduce growing pains - (2011-09-24)
  [3260] Ruby - a training example that puts many language elements together to demonstrate the whole - (2011-04-23)
  [3085] Object Oriented Programming for Structured Programmers - conversion training - (2010-12-14)
  [3063] Comments in and on Perl - a case for extreme OO programming - (2010-11-21)
  [2977] What is a factory method and why use one? - Example in Ruby - (2010-09-30)
  [2953] Turning an exercise into the real thing with extreme programming - (2010-09-11)
  [2889] Should Python classes each be in their own file? - (2010-07-27)
  [2878] Program for reliability and efficiency - do not duplicate, but rather share and re-use - (2010-07-19)
  [2865] Relationships between Java classes - inheritance, packaging and others - (2010-07-10)
  [2785] The Light bulb moment when people see how Object Orientation works in real use - (2010-05-28)
  [2747] Containment, Associative Objects, Inheritance, packages and modules - (2010-04-30)
  [2741] What is a factory? - (2010-04-26)
  [2717] The Multiple Inheritance Conundrum, interfaces and mixins - (2010-04-11)
  [2523] Plan your application before you start - (2009-12-02)
  [2501] Simples - (2009-11-12)
  [2380] Object Oriented programming - a practical design example - (2009-08-27)
  [2327] Planning! - (2009-08-08)
  [2170] Designing a heirarcy of classes - getting inheritance right - (2009-05-11)
  [2169] When should I use OO techniques? - (2009-05-11)
  [1538] Teaching Object Oriented Java with Students and Ice Cream - (2008-02-12)
  [1528] Object Oriented Tcl - (2008-02-02)
  [1435] Object Oriented Programming in Perl - Course - (2007-11-18)
  [1224] Object Relation Mapping (ORM) - (2007-06-09)
  [1217] What are factory and singleton classes? - (2007-06-04)
  [1047] Maintainable code - some positive advice - (2007-01-21)
  [836] Build on what you already have with OO - (2006-08-17)
  [831] Comparison of Object Oriented Philosophy - Python, Java, C++, Perl - (2006-08-13)
  [747] The Fag Packet Design Methodology - (2006-06-06)
  [656] Think about your design even if you don't use full UML - (2006-03-24)
  [534] Design - one name, one action - (2005-12-19)
  [507] Introduction to Object Oriented Programming - (2005-11-27)
  [236] Tapping in on resources - (2005-03-05)
  [80] OO - real benefits - (2004-10-09)

Y104 - Python - Lists and Tuples
  [4722] Embedding more complex code into a named block - (2016-11-04)
  [4368] Shuffling a list - Ruby and Python - (2014-12-28)
  [4027] Collections in Python - list tuple dict and string. - (2013-03-04)
  [3669] Stepping through a list (or an array) in reverse order - (2012-03-23)
  [3348] List slices in Python - 2 and 3 values forms, with an uplifting example - (2011-07-06)
  [3257] All possible combinations from a list (Python) or array (Ruby) - (2011-04-23)
  [3181] Beware - a=a+b and a+=b are different - Python - (2011-02-23)
  [3118] Arrays of arrays - or 2D arrays. How to program tables. - (2011-01-02)
  [2996] Copying - duplicating data, or just adding a name? Perl and Python compared - (2010-10-12)
  [2719] Traffic lights in Python - (2010-04-13)
  [2368] Python - fresh examples of all the fundamentals - (2009-08-20)
  [2284] Strings as collections in Python - (2009-07-12)
  [2280] Creating and iterating through Python lists - (2009-07-12)
  [1789] Looking for a value in a list - Python - (2008-09-08)
  [1641] Tektronix 4010 series / Python Tuples - (2008-05-13)
  [1220] for loop - how it works (Perl, PHP, Java, C, etc) - (2007-06-06)
  [955] Python collections - mutable and imutable - (2006-11-29)
  [899] Python - extend v append on a list - (2006-10-20)
  [657] The ternary operator in Python - (2006-03-25)
  [383] Overloading of operators on standard objects in Python - (2005-07-19)


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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at http://www.wellho.net/horse/ - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

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