Minimal public interface

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Implement a minimal public interface which all classes understand (e.g. operations such as copy (deep versus shallow), equality testing, pretty printing, parsing from a ASCII description, etc.). --Riel's Heuristic 2.4, Arthur Riel 1996


Chapter 2.4 in Arthur Riel 1996 states that:

If the classes that a developer designs and implements are to be reused by other developers in other applications, it is often useful to provide a common minimal public interface. This minimal public interface consists of functionality that can be reasonably expected from each and every class. The interface serves as a foundation for learning about the behaviors of classes in a reusable software base.

Chapter 9.5 continues with:

The minimal public interface gives users of a collection of reusable classes a basis for understanding the collection's architecture. Users come to expect a minimal functionality from anything they use in the collection.

Riel then goes on to describe a public interface that implements the following:

  • Constructor
  • Destructor
  • Copying objects
    • Deep
    • Shallow
  • Assigning objects
  • Equality testing
  • Print
  • Parse
  • Self-test

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