Take the 2-minute tour ×
Programmers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Say I have a class Person that has instance variables age, weight, and height, and another class Fruit that has instance variables sugarContent and texture. The Person class has no methods save setters and getters, while the Fruit class has both setters and getters and logic methods like calculateSweetness. Is the Fruit class the type of class that is better practice than the Person class. What I mean by this is that the Person class seems like it doesn't have much purpose; it exists solely to organize data, while the Fruit class organizes data and actually contains methods for logic.

share|improve this question
    
So, a Person has setters for height, weight and/or height, right? Setters would be pointless unless there is logic that manipulates these attributes somewhere. Is that logic in a correct class? –  COME FROM Dec 10 '12 at 10:02
    
@COMEFROM: you are right, that is the question to be asked here. However, in information systems it is not uncommon that the whole purpose of some attributes is that they are stored, shown and reported in that system, without any real logic (business processes actually using that attributes may exist outside of the information system). –  Doc Brown Dec 10 '12 at 12:36
    
@Doc Brown: I know and I agree. I don't see anything wrong with classes without logic but having setters in such class is somewhat suspicious. I would check where these setters are needed. Like you wrote: add functionalities to a class when needed. A setter is a functionality. –  COME FROM Dec 10 '12 at 13:38

7 Answers 7

up vote 8 down vote accepted

If your person is actually not doing anything, then there is no need to have any actions on it. It is possible to have classes which only collects data and then there will be classes which operates on this data. In your case, it may be possible that you do not have any action on single person, but there may be action on group of persons, like CalculateAverageHeight(). In this case it makes sense to have only Person without action and then have another class (may be friend) which works on this.

share|improve this answer
1  
I wouldn't say it was "common" to split your data and logic into different classes in a properly-designed OOP system. For your example, I would expect CalculateAverageHeight() to be a static method on Person which takes a collection of Person objects. That way, even though CalculateAverageHeight() isn't applicable to an individual instance of Person, you are still keeping it close to the data it operates on. –  TMN Dec 10 '12 at 14:02
1  
@TMN - Sorry for the common word. It is not common, but possible. I disagree that Calculation of average height is closely related to the person class. Consider another function HighDensityArea(), which finds out which is the area in which most of the population resides. This function only needs the address field of the person. There is no need for binding this closely with the Person class. –  Manoj R Dec 10 '12 at 14:25

It is difficult to come with a rule saying all classes must have some logic. In general classes without any logic are considered to be AnemicDomainModel.

Even then, it is better to organize data if the related information is getting large. For example in this case you may still need a collection of Person than many unrelated collections.

share|improve this answer
2  
I don't think this (AnemicDomainModel) is always true just because you have no logic. In fact, I think that many basic Entity types are just this: a collection of information all related to one particular object, but without any particular logic connected with it. A Person just ... is, yet it would be hard to argue you shouldn't have a class to represent a Person. –  Peter Rowell Dec 10 '12 at 6:39
    
@ Peter Rowell : The Entity (bean) from J2EE gets special mention in the article. –  Jayan Dec 10 '12 at 6:59
1  
You could also have implemented the command design pattern –  Eoin Dec 10 '12 at 9:56
    
A good working definition of Anemic Domain Model is a domain where business rules must exist to enforce data integrity within an object, but those rules are not encapsulated within the same object. If an object doesn't need logic to maintain an internally consistent state, such as a Money pattern, then it shouldn't have said logic. However, if an Invoice has a Subtotal data property that should always be the sum of its line items' Extended Costs (each of which is in turn Unit Price * Quantity), then those properties should be calculated and not directly settable. –  KeithS Dec 10 '12 at 18:49
    
If you have many classes that are like this you have a problem. However, sometimes you simply want to organize some data items but there are no methods that don't make more sense elsewhere. –  Loren Pechtel Dec 10 '12 at 22:46

The DataTransferObject is a good example of a class that has no logic, only data. That's its purpose, though; it's explicitly an exception to the general rule that all classes should implement the business logic that affects their internal state. Having a class whose internal state is changed by external logic is often a design smell. It's not always wrong, but it's almost always something that you should consider refactoring.

share|improve this answer

Reverse the question, look at the other end. If you have a collection of information that obviously belongs together, should you keep it apart just because there are no methods which you could add to that class? Should you be forced to invent arbitrary methods just to justify the class?

share|improve this answer

Models are no end to themselves - you should add functionalities to a class when you really need them in your program, not on guessing that you will need them probably in the future. So its natural that at one point in time you have classes with no "real" methods, and later, when you determine that it makes sense to add methods to the class, you do exactly that. The quality of a model is not measured by "do I have methods here and no methods there" - the quality is measured by "do I have all the methods my application actually needs in there".

For example, when your application in version 1.0 needs something like calculateSweetness for a Fruit, but does no operations on a Person except getting and setting the attributes, then your model should exactly reflect that by not having any logic in the class Person. In version 2.0, it may make sense to add some logic to a Person too, so when you are at that point, add the methods in question.

share|improve this answer

I think this depend on the language and how you are using the language.

In the trivial case some languages insist on everything being in a class, so e.g. collections of constants have to go into a class which then may or may not have any logic, in other languages they might end up in a namespace instead.

In multi-paradigm languages it can also depend on what paradigm you want your design to adhere to. Borrowing the example of CalculateAverageHeight(), as is it probably should reside in a PersonCollection class, however that presupposes an OOP solution. in a more Functional design you might use a higher order function with a generic collection, e.g. in C#

List<Person> personList = GetListOfPeople();
personlist.Average(p => p.Height);

and then the logic is not in PersonCollection or even statically in Person. Indeed higher order functions and generic data types in general mean you are more likely to end up with objects that are just bags of data, as the logic is operating at a higher level of abstraction then your specific data model.

share|improve this answer

It sounds like what you are talking about is a POD (plain old data). Different languages can represent these in different ways - it could be a class with public members for instance, or a struct with only public members in C++.

Organising data is a perfectly valid reason for a class to exist - it can often make code cleaner and easier to read. std::pair in C++'s STL is a good example of a structure that exists solely to organise data - simply a struct that holds two values of any type named first and second. Probably one the most useful classes in the entire STL (in my opinion anyways :) )

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.