Framework Design Guidelines

Conventions, Idioms and Patterns for Reusable .NET Libraries

Book review While Framework Design Guidelines: Conventions, Idioms and Patterns for Reusable.NET Libraries hardly rolls off the tongue, it has the obvious virtue of faithfully describing the contents. And while the subject of coding and design guidelines might not get the juices running in the same way as a tome on the latest scripting language or a fancy new web technology, it’s also true that a solid grasp of the subject is likely to be of more long term value to a developer.

Framework Design Guidelines book cover By frameworks the authors mean collections of components which are designed for reuse – in other words libraries, middleware components, toolkits and the like. In contrast to standalone applications, these frameworks are defined by their APIs, the public interface through which other developers can make use of them. And the prime example the authors refer to is, of course, Microsoft’s .NET Framework; as they make clear, the guidelines in this book are those developed, tested and refined by the development of .NET.

The book covers both design principles and more mundane issues such as coding standards, naming conventions and so on. The first couple of chapters focus on design and philosophy, describing both the desirable attributes of a well-designed framework (simplicity, consistency, built with evolution in mind), and some fundamental guiding principles (layered architecture, self-documenting object models). Design principles are also revisited in a later chapter on common design patterns, such as the use of factory methods for object creation.

The nuts and bolts of coding are not neglected. Naming guidelines include capitalisation rules, names for classes, interfaces, structs, assemblies, name spaces, and much more. On first sight there appear to be endless layers of detail – how hard can it be to come up with rules on how to capitalise identifiers? However, it’s a horrible fact of life that depending on common sense and good luck just isn’t enough. And once an API has been published, all kinds of inconsistencies and exceptions become glaringly obvious to your users, who’ll take no end of pleasure in pointing them out.

Of course, this isn’t the first book to cover this sort of ground. Steve McConnell’s excellent ”Code Complete” (reviewed here), has plenty to say on coding and naming standards. And Joshua Bloch’s ”Effective Java” (reviewed here), covers design object oriented design principles. Interestingly, both books are name checked and are clear influences. While the .NET focus is evident, it has to be said that the principles and guidelines are independent of language and, to a very large extent, independent of platform. So, not only is this a book that applies to all of the .NET languages rather than just C#, most of it makes good sense for Java, Python and the rest.

Given the subject matter, the writing’s on the dry side. But the solid technical content is leavened with comments and asides from a number of experienced developers and architects.

Framework Design Guidelines: Conventions, Idioms and Patterns for Reusable .NET Libraries

Verdict: All in all, this is an impressive and useful book that is easy to recommend.

Author: Krzysztof Cwalina and Brad Abrams

Publisher: Addison Wesley

ISBN: 0321246756

Media: Book

List Price: £28.99

Reg price: £23.19

Sponsored: How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers