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

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9780321246752: Framework Design Guidelines: Conventions, Idioms, and Patterns for Reusable .NET Libraries

A new edition of this title is available, ISBN-10: 0321545613 ISBN-13: 9780321545619

 

 

"This book is an absolute must-read for all .NET developers. It gives clear do and don't guidance on how to design class libraries for .NET. It also offers insight into the design and creation of .NET that really helps developers understand the reasons why things are the way they are. This information will aid developers designing their own class libraries and will also allow them to take advantage of the .NET class library more effectively."

--Jeffrey Richter, author/trainer/consultant, Wintellect

"Framework Design Guidelines will help you in two important ways. First, any .NET developer will benefit from a greater understanding of the design principles that govern the .NET Base Class Library. Second, a deeper understanding of these principles will help you to create software that integrates well with the .NET environment. Quite frankly, this book should be on every .NET developer's bookshelf."

--Bill Wagner, founder and consultant, SRT Solutions, author of Effective C#

"Not since Brooks' The Mythical Man Month has the major software maker of its time produced a book so full of relevant advice for the modern software developer. This book has a permanent place on my bookshelf and I consult it frequently."

--George Byrkit, senior software engineer, Genomic Solutions

"This book is a must-read for all architects and software developers thinking about frameworks. The book offers insight into some driving factors behind the design of the .NET Framework. It should be considered mandatory reading for anybody tasked with creating application frameworks."

--Peter Winkler, senior software engineer, Balance Technology Inc.

"Frameworks are valuable but notoriously difficult to construct: Your every decision must be geared towards making them easy to be used correctly and difficult to be used incorrectly. This book takes you through a progression of recommendations that will eliminate many of those downstream 'I wish I'd known that earlier' moments. I wish I'd read it earlier."

--Paul Besly, principal technologist, QA

"Filled with information useful to developers and architects of all levels, this book provides practical guidelines and expert background information to get behind the rules. Framework Design Guidelines takes the already published guidelines to a higher level, and it is needed to write applications that integrate well in the .NET area."

--Cristof Falk, software engineer

Framework Design Guidelines: Conventions, Idioms, and Patterns for Reusable .NET Libraries teaches developers the best practices for designing system frameworks and reusable libraries for use with the Microsoft .NET Framework and WinFX. This book focuses on the design issues that directly affect the programmability of a framework, specifically its publicly accessible APIs.

This book can improve the work of any .NET developer producing code that other developers will use. An added benefit is a collection of annotations to the guidelines by various members of the Microsoft .NET Framework and WinFX teams, which provide a lively discussion of the motives behind the guidelines, along with examples of good reasons for breaking the guidelines.

Microsoft architects Krzysztof Cwalina and Brad Abrams offer guidelines for framework design from the top down. From their long experience and deep insight, you will learn

  • The general philosophy of framework design
  • Principles and guidelines that are fundamental to overall framework design
  • Naming guidelines for the various parts of a framework, such as namespaces, types, and members
  • Guidelines for the design of types and members of types
  • Issues and guidelines that are important to ensure appropriate extensibilityin your framework
  • Guidelines for working with exceptions, the preferred error reporting mechanism in the .NET Framework and WinFX
  • Guidelines for extending and using types that commonly appear in frameworks
  • Guidelines for and examples of common framework design patterns

Guidelines in this book come in four major forms: Do, Consider, Avoid, and Do not. In general, a Do guideline should almost always be followed, a Consider guideline should generally be followed, an Avoid guideline indicates that something is generally not a good idea, and a Do not guideline indicates something you should almost never do. Every guideline includes a discussion of its applicability, and most guidelines include a code example.

A companion DVD includes the Designing .NET Class Libraries video series, instructional presentations by the authors on design guidelines for developing classes and components that extend the .NET Framework. A sample API specification and other useful resources are also included.



"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Krzysztof Cwalina is a Program Manager on the Common Language Runtime team at Microsoft Corporation. He began his career at Microsoft designing APIs for the first release of the .NET Framework. He has been responsible for several namespaces in the Framework, including System.Collections, System.Diagnostics, System.Messaging, and others. He was also one of the original members of the FxCop team. Currently, he is leading a companywide effort to develop, promote, and apply the design guidelines to the .NET Framework and WinFX. Krzysztof graduated with a B.S. and an M.S. in computer science from the University of Iowa.

Brad Abrams was a founding member of both the Common Language Runtime and .NET Framework teams at Microsoft, where he is currently a Lead Program Manager. Brad has been involved with WinFX and Windows Vista efforts from the beginning. His primary role is to ensure consistency and developer productivity of the .NET Framework through Vista and beyond. His popular blog can be found at http://blogs.msdn.com/BradA/.



Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

This book, Framework Design Guidelines, presents best practices for designing frameworks, which are reusable object-oriented libraries. The guidelines are applicable to frameworks ranging in size and in their scale of reuse:

  • Large system frameworks, such as the .NET Framework, usually consisting of thousands of types and used by millions of developers.
  • Medium-size reusable layers of large distributed applications
  • or extensions to system frameworks, such as the Web Services
  • Enhancements.
  • Small components shared among several applications; for example, a grid control library.

It is worth noting that this book focuses on design issues that directly affect the programmability of a framework (publicly accessible APIs). As a result, we generally do not cover much in terms of implementation details. Just like a user interface design book doesn't cover the details of how to implement hit testing, this book does not describe how to implement a binary sort, for example. This scope allows us to provide a definitive guide for framework designers instead of being yet another book about programming.

These guidelines were created in the early days of .NET Framework development. They started as a small set of naming and design conventions but have been enhanced, scrutinized, and refined to a point where they are generally considered the canonical way to design frameworks at Microsoft. They carry the experience and cumulative wisdom of thousands of developer hours over three versions of the .NET Framework. We tried to avoid basing the text purely on some idealistic design philosophies, and we think its day-to-day use by development teams at Microsoft has made it an intensely pragmatic book.

The book contains many annotations that explain trade-offs, explain history, amplify, or provide critiquing views on the guidelines. These annotations are written by experienced framework designers, industry experts, and users. They are the stories from the trenches that add color and setting for many of the guidelines presented.

To make them more easily distinguished in text, namespace names, classes, interfaces, methods, properties, and types are set in monospace font. The book assumes basic familiarity with .NET Framework programming. A few guidelines assume familiarity with features introduced in version 2.0 of the Framework. If you are looking for a good introduction to Framework programming, there are some excellent suggestions in the Suggested Reading List at the end of the book.

Guideline Presentation

The guidelines are organized as simple recommendations using Do, Consider, Avoid, and Do not. Each guideline describes either a good or bad practice and all have a consistent presentation. Good practices have a check mark in front of them, and bad practices have an X in front of them. The wording of each guideline also indicates how strong the recommendation is. For example, a Do guideline is one that should always1 be followed (all examples are from this book):

DO name custom attribute classes with the suffix "Attribute."

public class ObsoleteAttribute : Attribute { ... }

On the other hand, Consider guidelines should generally be followed, but if you fully understand the reasoning behind a guideline and have a good reason to not follow it anyway, you should not feel bad about breaking the rules:

CONSIDER defining a struct instead of a class if instances of the type are small and commonly short-lived or are commonly embedded in other objects.

Similarly, Do not guidelines indicate something you should almost never do:

DO NOT assign instances of mutable types to read-only fields.

Less strong, Avoid guidelines indicate that something is generally not a good idea, but there are known cases where breaking the rule makes sense:

AVOID using ICollection or ICollection as a parameter just to access the Count property.

Some more complex guidelines are followed with additional background information, illustrative code samples, and rationale:

DO implement IEquatable on value types. The Object.Equals method on value types causes boxing and its default implementation is not very efficient because it uses reflection. IEquatable.Equals can offer much better performance and can be implemented so it does not cause boxing.

public struct Int32 : IEquatable {
public bool Equals(Int32 other){ ... }
}

Language Choice and Code Examples

One of the goals of the Common Language Runtime is to support a variety of programming languages: those provided by Microsoft, such as C++, VB, and C#, as well as third-party languages such as Eiffel, COBOL, Python, and others. Therefore, this book was written to be applicable to a broad set of languages that can be used to develop and consume modern frameworks. To reinforce the message of multilanguage framework design, we considered writing code examples using several different programming languages. However, we decided against this. We felt that using different languages would help to carry the philosophical message, but it could force readers to learn several new languages, which is not the objective of this book.

We decided to choose a single language that is most likely to be readable to the broadest range of developers. We picked C#, because it is a simple language from the C family of languages (C, C++, Java, and C#), a family with a rich history in framework development.

Choice of language is close to the hearts of many developers, and we offer apologies to those who are uncomfortable with our choice.

About This Book

This book offers guidelines for framework design from the top down.

Chapter 1 is a brief introduction to the book, describing the general philosophy of framework design. This is the only chapter without guidelines.

Chapter 2, "Framework Design Fundamentals," offers principles and guidelines that are fundamental to overall framework design.

Chapter 3, "Naming Guidelines," contains naming guidelines for various parts of a framework, such as namespaces, types, members, and common design idioms.

Chapter 4, "Type Design Guidelines," provides guidelines for the general design of types.

Chapter 5,"Member Design," takes it a step further and presents guidelines for the design of members of types. Chapter 6, "Designing for Extensibility," presents issues and guidelines that are important to ensure appropriate extensibility in your framework.

Chapter 7, "Exceptions," presents guidelines for working with exceptions, the preferred error reporting mechanisms.

Chapter 8, "Usage Guidelines," contains guidelines for extending and using types that commonly appear in frameworks.

Chapter 9, "Common Design Patterns," offers guidelines and examples of common framework design patterns.

Appendix A contains a short description of coding conventions used in this book. Appendix B describes a tool called FxCop. The tool can be used to analyze framework binaries for compliance with the guidelines described in this book. A link to the tool is included on the DVD that accompanies this book.

Appendix C is an example of an API specification that framework designers within Microsoft create when designing APIs.

Included with the book is a DVD that contains several hours of video presentations covering topics presented in this book by the authors, a sample API specification, and other useful resources.

1.Always might be a bit too strong a word. There are guidelines that should literally be always followed, but they are extremely rare. On the other hand, you probably need to have a really unusual case for breaking a "Do" guideline and still have it be beneficial to the users of the framework.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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