## An Eye on Refactoring

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Recently I ran across the article, "Is Design Dead?", from Martin Fowler's blog. Martin addresses the common misconception that design is discouraged in Extreme Programming. He describes the overall purpose of design in software and how the design emerges as part of the development phase. As more is learned about the problem domain, better decisions can be made and the design evolves with the implementation. Refactoring code is an activity that helps facilitate success with this approach.

At a different time I was learning about the structure of the human eye and some of the potential paths in evolution that could have led to the structure of our eyes today. I learned some surprising things with regards to how our eyes are structured. The evolved structure is counter-intuitive to what I would have imagined, especially when compared to the structure of a digital camera. I took a step back and starting thinking about the evolutionary path of the eye and compared it to typical events I have experienced during a software development cycle. I wanted to share the conclusions that I reached when I thought about these two topics.

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## My Unit Test Environment

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I discussed the merits of selecting a suitable unit test framework for your development project in my previous post. I described the qualities that I found most valuable in the test framework that I use, CxxTest. The qualities are xUnit framework, portability, simplicity, and flexibility. There are other frameworks for C++ that contain many more features, however, rarely have I had to expand on what is provided in order to test something. Moreover, CxxTest is lightweight enough, that other test tools can be integrated with it, such as Google's GMock library.

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## Unit Test Frameworks

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If you ask a group of 10 software engineers to develop unit tests for the same object, you will end up with 10 unique approaches to testing that object. Now imagine each engineer was given a different object. This was my experience with unit testing before I discovered how useful and how much more valuable your unit tests become when they are developed with a test framework. A unit test framework provides a consistent foundation to build all of your tests upon. The method to setup and run each and every test will be the same. Most importantly, the output provided by each test will be the same, no matter who developed the test.

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## Introduction to Network Alchemy

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While many of the principles of developing robust software are easy to explain, it is much more difficult to know how and when to apply these principles. Practice and learning from mistakes is generally the most productive way to understand these principles. However, it is much more desirable to understand the principles before a flawed system is built; an example from the physical world is the Tacoma Narrows bridge. Therefore I am starting a journey to demonstrate how to create robust software. This is not a simple task that can be summarized in a magazine article, a chapter in a book or a reference application with full source code.

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## C++: using and namespace

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using and namespace are two of the most useful C++ keywords when it comes to simplifying syntax, and clarifying your intentions with the code. You should understand the value and flexibility these constructs will add to your software and it maintenance. The benefits are realized in the form of organization, readability, and adaptability of your code. Integration with 3rd party libraries, code from different teams, and even the ability to simplify names of constructs in your programs are all situations where these two keywords will help. Beware, these keywords can also cause unnecessary pain when used incorrectly. There are some very simple rules to keep in mind, and you can avoid these headaches.

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## The Purpose of a Unit Test

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I would like to clarify the purpose and intention of a unit test for every role even tangentially related to the development of software. I have observed a steady upward trend, over the last 15 years, for the importance and value of automating the software validation process. I think this is fantastic! What I am troubled by is the large amount of misinformation that exists in the attempts to describe how to unit test. I specifically address and clarify the concept of unit testing in this entry.

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## Improve Code Clarity with Typedef

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The concept of selecting descriptive variable names is a lesson that seems to start almost the moment you pick up your first programming book. This is sound advice, and I do not contest this. However, I think that the basis could be improved by creating and using the most appropriate type for the task at hand. Do you believe that you already use the most appropriate type for each job? Read on and see if there is possibly more that you could do to improve the readability, maintainability or your programs, as well as more simply express your original intent.

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