The Poetry of Microservices

This post is dedicated to she-who-wears-my-code-poet-shirt, my muse, my Valentine, my Angel.

code-poetMy favorite forms of poetry are the sonnet and the haiku. I’ve found their constraints to be helpful in guiding creativity rather than restricting it.

Programming and writing poetry are very similar, which is proven beyond reasonable doubt by the fact that the first programmer was the child of a famous poet.

It therefore makes sense to consider that constraints on programming would actually help us write better programs as well. Uncle Bob Martin argues in The Last Programming Language that indeed it does.

The four major programming paradigms have all taken away some of our freedoms as programmers, and that has gotten us better results.

Modular programming limits the size of the parts that make up a program. Structured programming limits the flow of execution to a couple of well-established patterns. Object-oriented programming limits data exposure across units. Finally, functional programming limits side-effects.

Since the constraints on size, execution patterns, data exposure, and side-effects have served us so well when writing programs, we may wonder if we can apply them elsewhere in our field.

One example would be in how we deploy applications. Applying the four constraints results in applications that are made up of small components that communicate using a couple of well-established patterns, hide their data, and limit their side-effects. In other words, we would end up with microservices.

After watching The Last Programming Language, I wondered where aspect-oriented programming fits in. Wikipedia does indeed list it as a programming paradigm, but Uncle Bob probably left it out because it isn’t as widely used as the other four.

That doesn’t mean that aspects can’t be extremely useful in some specific situations. Applying the concept to application deployment gives us the API gateway pattern, for instance.

Have you found yourself in situations where following constraints actually improved the end solution? Please leave a comment below.

Bug in my software
Disappears when in testing
Curse you, Heisenberg
–Andrew from Ottawa, Canada

See also this TED talk on computers writing poetry.


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