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C# Bad Practices: Learn How to Make Good Code by Using Examples of Bad Code

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13 Apr 2016CPOL14 min read
The purpose of this article is to show how to write a clean, extendable and maintainable code by showing an example of a badly written class.
I will explain what troubles a badly written class could bring and present a way to replace it with a better solution -- using good practices and design patterns. The first part is for every developer who knows C# language basics - it will show some basic mistakes and techniques to make code readable like a book. The advanced part is for developers who have at least a basic understanding of design patterns -- it will show completely clean, unit testable code.

Introduction

My name is Radoslaw Sadowski and I'm a Microsoft Certified Software Developer. Since the beginning of my career, I have been working with Microsoft technologies.

After a few years of experience, I saw so much badly written code that I could write a book showing all these dirty examples.
Those experiences made me a clean code freak.

To understand this article, you need to have at least basic knowledge of:

  • C# language
  • dependency injection, factory method and strategy design patterns

The example described in this article is a concrete, real world feature – I won't show examples like build pizza using decorator pattern or implement calculator using strategy pattern. :)

Image 1 Image 2

As those theoretical examples are very good for explanation. I found it extremely difficult to use in real production applications.

We hear many times that we should not use this and use that instead. But why? I will try to explain it and prove that all the good practices and design patterns are really saving our lives!

Note

  • I will not explain the C# language features and design patterns (it would make this article too long). There are so many good theoretical examples in the network. I will concentrate on showing how to use it in our everyday work.

  • This example is extremely simplified to highlight only described issues – I’ve found difficulties in understanding a general idea of the article when I was learning from examples which contained tonnes of code.

  • I’m not saying that the solutions shown by me for the described problems below are the only solutions, but for sure, they work and make high quality solution with your code.

  • In the below code, I don't care about error handling, logging, etc. The code is written only to show a solution for common programming problems.

Let’s go to concretes...

So Badly Written Class...

Our real world example will be the below class:

C#
public class Class1
{
  public decimal Calculate(decimal amount, int type, int years)
  {
    decimal result = 0;
    decimal disc = (years > 5) ? (decimal)5/100 : (decimal)years/100; 
    if (type == 1)
    {
      result = amount;
    }
    else if (type == 2)
    {
      result = (amount - (0.1m * amount)) - disc * (amount - (0.1m * amount));
    }
    else if (type == 3)
    {
      result = (0.7m * amount) - disc * (0.7m * amount);
    }
    else if (type == 4)
    {
      result = (amount - (0.5m * amount)) - disc * (amount - (0.5m * amount));
    }
    return result;
  }
}

It is a really bad code. Can we imagine the role of the above class? It is doing some weird calculating? That's all we can say about it for now…

Now imagine that it is a DiscountManager class which is responsible for calculating a discount for the customer while he is buying some product in an online shop.

  • Come on? Really?
  • Unfortunately Yes!

It is completely unreadable, unmaintainable, unextendable and it uses many bad practices and anti-patterns.

What are the exact issues we have here?

  1. Naming – we can only guess what this method calculates and what exactly is the input for these calculations. It is really hard to extract calculation algorithm from this class.
    Risks:
    The most important thing in this case is – time wasting.

    Image 3

    If we will get an enquiry from business to present them with algorithm details or we will have a need to modify this piece of code, it will take us ages to understand the logic of our Calculate method. And if we won’t document it or refactor the code, next time we/other developer will spend the same time to figure out what exactly is happening there. We can very easily make a mistake while modifying it as well.

  2. Magic Numbers

    Image 4

    In our example, the type variable means - status of the customer account. Could you guess that? If-else if statements make a choice how to calculate price of the product after discount.
    Now we don’t have an idea what kind of account is 1,2,3 or 4. Let’s imagine now that you have to change the algorithm of giving discount for ValuableCustomer account. You can try to figure it out from the rest of the code – what will take you a long time but even though we can very easily make a mistake and modify the algorithm of BasicCustomer account – numbers like 2 or 3 aren’t very descriptive. After our mistake, customers will be very happy because they will be getting a discount of valuable customers. :)

  3. Not obvious bug

    Because our code is very dirty and unreadable, we can easily miss very important things. Imagine that there is a new customer account status added to our system - GoldenCustomer. Now our method will return 0 as a final price for every product which will be bought from a new kind of an account. Why? Because if none of our if-else if conditions will be satisfied (there will be unhandled account status), method will always return 0. Our boss is not happy – he sold many products for free before somebody realized that something is wrong.

    Image 5

  4. Unreadable

    We all have to agree that our code is extremely unreadable.
    Unreadable = more time for understanding the code + increasing risk of mistake.

  5. Magic numbers - again

    Do we know what numbers like 0.1, 0.7, 0.5 mean? No we don't, but we should if we are owners of the code.

    Let’s imagine that you have to change this line:

    C#
    result = (amount - (0.5m * amount)) - disc * (amount - (0.5m * amount));

    As the method is completely unreadable, you change only the first 0.5 to 0.4 and leave the second 0.5 as is. It can be a bug but it also can be a fully proper modification. It’s because 0.5 does not tell us anything.
    The same story we have in case of converting years variable to disc variable:

    C#
    decimal disc = (years > 5) ? (decimal)5/100 : (decimal)years/100;

    It is calculating discount for time of having account in our system in percentage. Ok, but what the hell is 5? It is a maximum discount in percentage which customer can get for loyalty. Could you guess that?

  6. DRY – Don’t repeat yourself

    It is not visible for the first look but there are many places in our method where the code is repeated.
    For example:

    C#
    disc * (amount - (0.1m * amount));

    is the same logic as:

    C#
    disc * (amount - (0.5m * amount))

    There is only static variable which is making a difference – we can easily parametrize this variable.
    If we won’t get rid of duplicated code, we will come across situations where we will only do a part of the task because we will not see that we have to change in the same way, for example, 5 places in our code. The above logic is calculating a discount for years of being a customer in our system. So if we will change this logic in 2 of 3 places, our system will become inconsistent.

  7. Multiple responsibilities per class

    Our method has at least three responsibilities:

    1. Choosing calculation algorithm
    2. Calculate a discount for account status
    3. Calculate a discount for years of being our customer

It violates Single Responsibility Principle. What risk does it bring? If we will need to modify one of those 3 features, it will affect the other two as well. It means that it could break something in features which we didn’t want to touch. So we will have to test all classes again – waste of time.

Refactoring...

In the nine below steps, I will show you how we can avoid all the described above risks and bad practices to achieve a clean, maintainable and unit testable code which will be readable like a book.

STEP I – Naming, Naming, Naming

It's IMHO one of the most important aspects of a good code. We've only changed names of method, parameters and variables and now we exactly know what the below class is responsible for.

C#
public class DiscountManager
{
  public decimal ApplyDiscount
    (decimal price, int accountStatus, int timeOfHavingAccountInYears)
  {
    decimal priceAfterDiscount = 0;
    decimal discountForLoyaltyInPercentage = (timeOfHavingAccountInYears > 5) ? 
            (decimal)5/100 : (decimal)timeOfHavingAccountInYears/100; 
    if (accountStatus == 1)
    {
      priceAfterDiscount = price;
    }
    else if (accountStatus == 2)
    {
      priceAfterDiscount = (price - (0.1m * price)) - 
           (discountForLoyaltyInPercentage * (price - (0.1m * price)));
    }
    else if (accountStatus == 3)
    {
      priceAfterDiscount = (0.7m * price) - 
           (discountForLoyaltyInPercentage * (0.7m * price));
    }
    else if (accountStatus == 4)
    {
      priceAfterDiscount = (price - (0.5m * price)) - 
           (discountForLoyaltyInPercentage * (price - (0.5m * price)));
    }
 
    return priceAfterDiscount;
  }
}

However, we still don't know what 1, 2, 3, 4 mean, let's do something with it!

STEP II – Magic Numbers

One of the techniques of avoiding magic numbers in C# is replacing it by enums. I prepared AccountStatus enum to replace our magic numbers in if-else if statements:

C#
public enum AccountStatus
{
  NotRegistered = 1,
  SimpleCustomer = 2,
  ValuableCustomer = 3,
  MostValuableCustomer = 4
}

Now look at our refactored class, we can easily say which algorithm of calculating discount is used for which account status. Risk of mixing up Account Statuses decreased rapidly.

C#
public class DiscountManager
{
  public decimal ApplyDiscount(decimal price, AccountStatus accountStatus, 
                               int timeOfHavingAccountInYears)
  {
    decimal priceAfterDiscount = 0;
    decimal discountForLoyaltyInPercentage = (timeOfHavingAccountInYears > 5) ? 
            (decimal)5/100 : (decimal)timeOfHavingAccountInYears/100;
 
    if (accountStatus == AccountStatus.NotRegistered)
    {
      priceAfterDiscount = price;
    }
    else if (accountStatus == AccountStatus.SimpleCustomer)
    {
      priceAfterDiscount = (price - (0.1m * price)) - 
           (discountForLoyaltyInPercentage * (price - (0.1m * price)));
    }
    else if (accountStatus == AccountStatus.ValuableCustomer)
    {
      priceAfterDiscount = (0.7m * price) - 
           (discountForLoyaltyInPercentage * (0.7m * price));
    }
    else if (accountStatus == AccountStatus.MostValuableCustomer)
    {
      priceAfterDiscount = (price - (0.5m * price)) - 
           (discountForLoyaltyInPercentage * (price - (0.5m * price)));
    }
    return priceAfterDiscount;
  }
}

STEP III – More Readable

In this step, we will improve readability of our class by replacing if-else if statement with switch-case statement.

I also divided long one-line algorithms into two separate lines. We have now separated “calculation of discount for account status” from “calculation of discount for years of having customer account”.

For example, line:

C#
priceAfterDiscount = (price - (0.5m * price)) - 
       (discountForLoyaltyInPercentage * (price - (0.5m * price)));

was replaced by:

C#
priceAfterDiscount = (price - (0.5m * price));
priceAfterDiscount = 
    priceAfterDiscount - (discountForLoyaltyInPercentage * priceAfterDiscount);

The below code presents the described changes:

C#
public class DiscountManager
{
  public decimal ApplyDiscount
    (decimal price, AccountStatus accountStatus, int timeOfHavingAccountInYears)
  {
    decimal priceAfterDiscount = 0;
    decimal discountForLoyaltyInPercentage = (timeOfHavingAccountInYears > 5) ? 
                       (decimal)5/100 : (decimal)timeOfHavingAccountInYears/100;
    switch (accountStatus)
    {
      case AccountStatus.NotRegistered:
        priceAfterDiscount = price;
        break;
      case AccountStatus.SimpleCustomer:
        priceAfterDiscount = (price - (0.1m * price));
        priceAfterDiscount = priceAfterDiscount - 
                             (discountForLoyaltyInPercentage * priceAfterDiscount);
        break;
      case AccountStatus.ValuableCustomer:
        priceAfterDiscount = (0.7m * price);
        priceAfterDiscount = priceAfterDiscount - 
                             (discountForLoyaltyInPercentage * priceAfterDiscount);
        break;
      case AccountStatus.MostValuableCustomer:
        priceAfterDiscount = (price - (0.5m * price));
        priceAfterDiscount = priceAfterDiscount - 
                             (discountForLoyaltyInPercentage * priceAfterDiscount);
        break;
    }
    return priceAfterDiscount;
  }
}

STEP IV - Not Obvious Bug

We finally got to our hidden bug!
As I mentioned before, our method ApplyDiscount will return 0 as final price for every product which will be bought from new kind of account. Sad but true..

How can we fix it? By throwing NotImplementedException!

Image 6

You will think - Isn't it exception driven development? No, it isn't!

When our method will get as parameter value of AccountStatus which we didn't support, we want to be noticed immediately about this fact and stop program flow not to make any unpredictable operations in our system.

This situation SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN so we have to throw an exception if it will occur.

The below code was modified to throw an NotImplementedException if none of the conditions are satisfied – the default section of switch-case statement:

C#
public class DiscountManager
{
  public decimal ApplyDiscount
    (decimal price, AccountStatus accountStatus, int timeOfHavingAccountInYears)
  {
    decimal priceAfterDiscount = 0;
    decimal discountForLoyaltyInPercentage = (timeOfHavingAccountInYears > 5) ? 
            (decimal)5/100 : (decimal)timeOfHavingAccountInYears/100;
    switch (accountStatus)
    {
      case AccountStatus.NotRegistered:
        priceAfterDiscount = price;
        break;
      case AccountStatus.SimpleCustomer:
        priceAfterDiscount = (price - (0.1m * price));
        priceAfterDiscount = priceAfterDiscount - 
             (discountForLoyaltyInPercentage * priceAfterDiscount);
        break;
      case AccountStatus.ValuableCustomer:
        priceAfterDiscount = (0.7m * price);
        priceAfterDiscount = priceAfterDiscount - 
             (discountForLoyaltyInPercentage * priceAfterDiscount);
        break;
      case AccountStatus.MostValuableCustomer:
        priceAfterDiscount = (price - (0.5m * price));
        priceAfterDiscount = priceAfterDiscount - 
             (discountForLoyaltyInPercentage * priceAfterDiscount);
        break;
      default:
        throw new NotImplementedException();
    }
    return priceAfterDiscount;
  }
}

STEP V - Let's Analyse Calculations

In our example, we have two criteria of giving a discount for our customers:

  1. Account status
  2. Time in years of having an account in our system.

All algorithms look similar in case of discount for time of being a customer:

C#
(discountForLoyaltyInPercentage * priceAfterDiscount)

but there is one exception in case of calculating constant discount for account status: 0.7m * price.

So let's change it to look the same as in other cases: price - (0.3m * price):

C#
public class DiscountManager
{
  public decimal ApplyDiscount
    (decimal price, AccountStatus accountStatus, int timeOfHavingAccountInYears)
  {
    decimal priceAfterDiscount = 0;
    decimal discountForLoyaltyInPercentage = (timeOfHavingAccountInYears > 5) ? 
           (decimal)5/100 : (decimal)timeOfHavingAccountInYears/100;
    switch (accountStatus)
    {
      case AccountStatus.NotRegistered:
        priceAfterDiscount = price;
        break;
      case AccountStatus.SimpleCustomer:
        priceAfterDiscount = (price - (0.1m * price));
        priceAfterDiscount = priceAfterDiscount - 
             (discountForLoyaltyInPercentage * priceAfterDiscount);
        break;
      case AccountStatus.ValuableCustomer:
        priceAfterDiscount = (price - (0.3m * price));
        priceAfterDiscount = priceAfterDiscount - 
             (discountForLoyaltyInPercentage * priceAfterDiscount);
        break;
      case AccountStatus.MostValuableCustomer:
        priceAfterDiscount = (price - (0.5m * price));
        priceAfterDiscount = priceAfterDiscount - 
             (discountForLoyaltyInPercentage * priceAfterDiscount);
        break;
      default:
        throw new NotImplementedException();
    }
    return priceAfterDiscount;
  }
}

Now we have all the rules which are calculating a discount according to account status in one format:

C#
price - ((static_discount_in_percentages/100) * price)

Step VI - Get Rid of Magic Numbers – Another Technique

Let's look at static variable which is a part of discount algorithm for account status:(static_discount_in_percentages/100)

and concrete instances of it:
0.1m
0.3m
0.5m

Those numbers are very magic as well – they are not telling us anything about themselves.

We have the same situation in case of converting 'time in years of having an account' to discount a 'discount for loyalty:

C#
decimal discountForLoyaltyInPercentage = (timeOfHavingAccountInYears > 5) ? 
        (decimal)5/100 : (decimal)timeOfHavingAccountInYears/100;

Number 5 is making our code very mysterious.

We have to do something with it to make it more descriptive!

I will use another technique of avoiding magic strings – which are constants (const keyword in C#). I strongly recommend to create one static class for constants to have it in one place of our application.

For our example, I've created the below class:

C#
public static class Constants
{
  public const int MAXIMUM_DISCOUNT_FOR_LOYALTY = 5;
  public const decimal DISCOUNT_FOR_SIMPLE_CUSTOMERS = 0.1m;
  public const decimal DISCOUNT_FOR_VALUABLE_CUSTOMERS = 0.3m;
  public const decimal DISCOUNT_FOR_MOST_VALUABLE_CUSTOMERS = 0.5m;
}

and after modification, our DiscountManager class will look as below:

C#
public class DiscountManager
{
  public decimal ApplyDiscount
    (decimal price, AccountStatus accountStatus, int timeOfHavingAccountInYears)
  {
    decimal priceAfterDiscount = 0;
    decimal discountForLoyaltyInPercentage = 
          (timeOfHavingAccountInYears > Constants.MAXIMUM_DISCOUNT_FOR_LOYALTY) ? 
          (decimal)Constants.MAXIMUM_DISCOUNT_FOR_LOYALTY/100 : 
                             (decimal)timeOfHavingAccountInYears/100;
    switch (accountStatus)
    {
      case AccountStatus.NotRegistered:
        priceAfterDiscount = price;
        break;
      case AccountStatus.SimpleCustomer:
        priceAfterDiscount = (price - (Constants.DISCOUNT_FOR_SIMPLE_CUSTOMERS * price));
        priceAfterDiscount = priceAfterDiscount - 
                             (discountForLoyaltyInPercentage * priceAfterDiscount);
        break;
      case AccountStatus.ValuableCustomer:
        priceAfterDiscount = (price - (Constants.DISCOUNT_FOR_VALUABLE_CUSTOMERS * price));
        priceAfterDiscount = priceAfterDiscount - 
                             (discountForLoyaltyInPercentage * priceAfterDiscount);
        break;
      case AccountStatus.MostValuableCustomer:
        priceAfterDiscount = (price - 
                             (Constants.DISCOUNT_FOR_MOST_VALUABLE_CUSTOMERS * price));
        priceAfterDiscount = priceAfterDiscount - 
                             (discountForLoyaltyInPercentage * priceAfterDiscount);
        break;
      default:
        throw new NotImplementedException();
    }
    return priceAfterDiscount;
  }
}

I hope you will agree that our method is now more self explanatory. :)

STEP VII – Don't Repeat Yourself!

Image 7

Just to not duplicate our code, we will move parts of our algorithms to separate methods.

We will use extension methods to do that.

Firstly, we have to create two extension methods:

C#
public static class PriceExtensions
{
  public static decimal ApplyDiscountForAccountStatus
                (this decimal price, decimal discountSize)
  {
    return price - (discountSize * price);
  }
 
  public static decimal ApplyDiscountForTimeOfHavingAccount
                (this decimal price, int timeOfHavingAccountInYears)
  {
     decimal discountForLoyaltyInPercentage = 
             (timeOfHavingAccountInYears > Constants.MAXIMUM_DISCOUNT_FOR_LOYALTY) ? 
             (decimal)Constants.MAXIMUM_DISCOUNT_FOR_LOYALTY/100 : 
             (decimal)timeOfHavingAccountInYears/100;
    return price - (discountForLoyaltyInPercentage * price);
  }
}

As names of our methods are very descriptive, I don't have to explain what they are responsible for. Now, let's use the new code in our example:

C#
public class DiscountManager
{
  public decimal ApplyDiscount
    (decimal price, AccountStatus accountStatus, int timeOfHavingAccountInYears)
  {
    decimal priceAfterDiscount = 0;
    switch (accountStatus)
    {
      case AccountStatus.NotRegistered:
        priceAfterDiscount = price;
        break;
      case AccountStatus.SimpleCustomer:
        priceAfterDiscount = price.ApplyDiscountForAccountStatus
                             (Constants.DISCOUNT_FOR_SIMPLE_CUSTOMERS)
          .ApplyDiscountForTimeOfHavingAccount(timeOfHavingAccountInYears);
        break;
      case AccountStatus.ValuableCustomer:
        priceAfterDiscount = price.ApplyDiscountForAccountStatus
                             (Constants.DISCOUNT_FOR_VALUABLE_CUSTOMERS)
          .ApplyDiscountForTimeOfHavingAccount(timeOfHavingAccountInYears);
        break;
      case AccountStatus.MostValuableCustomer:
        priceAfterDiscount = price.ApplyDiscountForAccountStatus
                             (Constants.DISCOUNT_FOR_MOST_VALUABLE_CUSTOMERS)
          .ApplyDiscountForTimeOfHavingAccount(timeOfHavingAccountInYears);
        break;
      default:
        throw new NotImplementedException();
    }
    return priceAfterDiscount;
  }
}

Extension methods are very nice and can make your code simpler but at the end of the day are still static classes and can make your unit testing very hard or even impossible. Because of that, we will get rid of it in the last step. I've used it just to present to you how they can make our lives easier, but I'm not a big fan of them.

Anyway, will you agree that our code looks a lot better now?

So let's jump to the next step!

STEP VIII – Remove Few Unnecessary Lines...

We should write as short and simple code as is possible. Shorter code = less possible bugs, shorter time of understanding the business logic.
Let's further simplify our example then.

We can easily notice that we have the same mathod call for three kinds of customer accounts:

C#
.ApplyDiscountForTimeOfHavingAccount(timeOfHavingAccountInYears);

Can't we do it once? No, we have exception for NotRegistered users because discount for years of being a registered customer does not make any sense for unregistered customers. True, but what time of having account has unregistered user?

- 0 years

Discount in this case will always be 0, so we can safely add this discount also for unregistered users, let's do it!

C#
public class DiscountManager
{
  public decimal ApplyDiscount(decimal price, AccountStatus accountStatus, 
                               int timeOfHavingAccountInYears)
  {
    decimal priceAfterDiscount = 0;
    switch (accountStatus)
    {
      case AccountStatus.NotRegistered:
        priceAfterDiscount = price;
        break;
      case AccountStatus.SimpleCustomer:
        priceAfterDiscount = price.ApplyDiscountForAccountStatus
                             (Constants.DISCOUNT_FOR_SIMPLE_CUSTOMERS);
        break;
      case AccountStatus.ValuableCustomer:
        priceAfterDiscount = price.ApplyDiscountForAccountStatus
                             (Constants.DISCOUNT_FOR_VALUABLE_CUSTOMERS);
        break;
      case AccountStatus.MostValuableCustomer:
        priceAfterDiscount = price.ApplyDiscountForAccountStatus
                             (Constants.DISCOUNT_FOR_MOST_VALUABLE_CUSTOMERS);
        break;
      default:
        throw new NotImplementedException();
    }
    priceAfterDiscount = priceAfterDiscount.ApplyDiscountForTimeOfHavingAccount
                         (timeOfHavingAccountInYears);
    return priceAfterDiscount;
  }
}

We were able to move this line outside the switch-case statement. Benefit – less code!

STEP IX – Advanced – Finally Get Clean Code

All right! Now we can read our class like a book, but it isn't enough for us! We want super clean code now!

Image 8

Ok, so let's make some changes to finally achieve this goal. We will use dependency injection and strategy with a factory method design patterns!

This is how our code will look at the end of the day:

C#
public class DiscountManager
{
  private readonly IAccountDiscountCalculatorFactory _factory;
  private readonly ILoyaltyDiscountCalculator _loyaltyDiscountCalculator;
 
  public DiscountManager(IAccountDiscountCalculatorFactory factory, 
                         ILoyaltyDiscountCalculator loyaltyDiscountCalculator)
  {
    _factory = factory;
    _loyaltyDiscountCalculator = loyaltyDiscountCalculator;
  }
 
  public decimal ApplyDiscount(decimal price, AccountStatus accountStatus, 
                               int timeOfHavingAccountInYears)
  {
    decimal priceAfterDiscount = 0;
    priceAfterDiscount = _factory.GetAccountDiscountCalculator
                         (accountStatus).ApplyDiscount(price);
    priceAfterDiscount = _loyaltyDiscountCalculator.ApplyDiscount
                         (priceAfterDiscount, timeOfHavingAccountInYears);
    return priceAfterDiscount;
  }
}
C#
public interface ILoyaltyDiscountCalculator
{
  decimal ApplyDiscount(decimal price, int timeOfHavingAccountInYears);
}
 
public class DefaultLoyaltyDiscountCalculator : ILoyaltyDiscountCalculator
{
  public decimal ApplyDiscount(decimal price, int timeOfHavingAccountInYears)
  {
    decimal discountForLoyaltyInPercentage = (timeOfHavingAccountInYears > 
            Constants.MAXIMUM_DISCOUNT_FOR_LOYALTY) ? 
            (decimal)Constants.MAXIMUM_DISCOUNT_FOR_LOYALTY/100 : 
            (decimal)timeOfHavingAccountInYears/100;
    return price - (discountForLoyaltyInPercentage * price);
  }
}
C#
public interface IAccountDiscountCalculatorFactory
{
  IAccountDiscountCalculator GetAccountDiscountCalculator(AccountStatus accountStatus);
}
 
public class DefaultAccountDiscountCalculatorFactory : IAccountDiscountCalculatorFactory
{
  public IAccountDiscountCalculator GetAccountDiscountCalculator(AccountStatus accountStatus)
  {
    IAccountDiscountCalculator calculator;
    switch (accountStatus)
    {
      case AccountStatus.NotRegistered:
        calculator = new NotRegisteredDiscountCalculator();
        break;
      case AccountStatus.SimpleCustomer:
        calculator = new SimpleCustomerDiscountCalculator();
        break;
      case AccountStatus.ValuableCustomer:
        calculator = new ValuableCustomerDiscountCalculator();
        break;
      case AccountStatus.MostValuableCustomer:
        calculator = new MostValuableCustomerDiscountCalculator();
        break;
      default:
        throw new NotImplementedException();
    }
 
    return calculator;
  }
}
C#
public interface IAccountDiscountCalculator
{
  decimal ApplyDiscount(decimal price);
}
 
public class NotRegisteredDiscountCalculator : IAccountDiscountCalculator
{
  public decimal ApplyDiscount(decimal price)
  {
    return price;
  }
}
 
public class SimpleCustomerDiscountCalculator : IAccountDiscountCalculator
{
  public decimal ApplyDiscount(decimal price)
  {
    return price - (Constants.DISCOUNT_FOR_SIMPLE_CUSTOMERS * price);
  }
}
 
public class ValuableCustomerDiscountCalculator : IAccountDiscountCalculator
{
  public decimal ApplyDiscount(decimal price)
  {
    return price - (Constants.DISCOUNT_FOR_VALUABLE_CUSTOMERS * price);
  }
}
 
public class MostValuableCustomerDiscountCalculator : IAccountDiscountCalculator
{
  public decimal ApplyDiscount(decimal price)
  {
    return price - (Constants.DISCOUNT_FOR_MOST_VALUABLE_CUSTOMERS * price);
  }
}

First of all, we got rid of extension methods (read: static classes) because using them made caller class (DiscountManager) tightly coupled with discount algorithms inside extension methods. If we would want to unit test our ApplyDiscount method, it would not be possible because we would also be testing PriceExtensions class.

To avoid it, I've created DefaultLoyaltyDiscountCalculator class which contains logic of ApplyDiscountForTimeOfHavingAccount extension method and hide its implementation behind abstraction (read: interface) ILoyaltyDiscountCalculator. Now when we want to test our DiscountManager class, we will be able to inject mock/fake object which implements ILoyaltyDiscountCalculator into our DiscountManager class via constructor to test only DiscountManager implementation. Here, we are using Dependency Injection Design Pattern.

Image 9

By doing it, we have also moved the responsibility of calculating a discount for loyalty to a different class, so if we will need to modify this logic, we will have to change only DefaultLoyaltyDiscountCalculator class and all other code will stay untouched – lower risk of breaking something, less time for testing.

Below use of divided to separate class logic in our DiscountManager class:

C#
priceAfterDiscount = _loyaltyDiscountCalculator.ApplyDiscount
                    (priceAfterDiscount, timeOfHavingAccountInYears);

In case of calculation discount for account status logic, I had to create something more complex. We had 2 responsibilities which we wanted to move out from DiscountManager:

  1. Which algorithm to use according to account status
  2. Details of particular algorithm calculation

To move out first responsibility, I’ve created a factory class (DefaultAccountDiscountCalculatorFactory) which is an implementation on Factory Method Design Pattern and hid it behind abstraction - IAccountDiscountCalculatorFactory.

Image 10

Our factory will decide which discount algorithm to choose. Finally, we are injecting our factory into a DiscountManager class via constructor using Dependency Injection Design Pattern.

Below use of the factory in our DiscountManager class:

BAT
priceAfterDiscount = _factory.GetAccountDiscountCalculator(accountStatus).ApplyDiscount(price);

The above line will return proper strategy for particular account status and will invoke ApplyDiscount method on it.

First responsibility divided, so let’s talk about the second one.

Let's talk about strategies then…

Image 11

As a discount algorithm could be different for every account status, we will have to use different strategies to implement it. It’s a great opportunity to use Strategy Design Pattern!

In our example, we now have three strategies:

  1. NotRegisteredDiscountCalculator
  2. SimpleCustomerDiscountCalculator
  3. MostValuableCustomerDiscountCalculator

They contain implementation of particular discount algorithms and are hidden behind abstraction:
IAccountDiscountCalculator.

It will allows our DiscountManager class to use proper strategy without knowledge of its implementation. DiscountManager only knows that returned object implements IAccountDiscountCalculator interface which contains method ApplyDiscount.

NotRegisteredDiscountCalculator, SimpleCustomerDiscountCalculator, MostValuableCustomerDiscountCalculator classes contain implementation of proper algorithm according to account status. As our three strategies look similar, the only thing we could do more would be to create one method for all three algorithms and call it from each strategy class with a different parameter. As it would make our example too big, I didn't decide to do that.

All right, so to sum up now, we have a clean readable code and all our classes have only one responsibility – only one reason to change:

  1. DiscountManager – manage code flow
  2. DefaultLoyaltyDiscountCalculator – calculation of discount for loyalty
  3. DefaultAccountDiscountCalculatorFactory – deciding which strategy of calculation account status discount to choose
  4. NotRegisteredDiscountCalculator, SimpleCustomerDiscountCalculator, MostValuableCustomerDiscountCalculator – calculation of discount for account status

Now compare method from the beginning:

C#
public class Class1
{
    public decimal Calculate(decimal amount, int type, int years)
    {
        decimal result = 0;
        decimal disc = (years > 5) ? (decimal)5 / 100 : (decimal)years / 100;
        if (type == 1)
        {
            result = amount;
        }
        else if (type == 2)
        {
            result = (amount - (0.1m * amount)) - disc * (amount - (0.1m * amount));
        }
        else if (type == 3)
        {
            result = (0.7m * amount) - disc * (0.7m * amount);
        }
        else if (type == 4)
        {
            result = (amount - (0.5m * amount)) - disc * (amount - (0.5m * amount));
        }
        return result;
    }
}

to our new, refactored code:

C#
public decimal ApplyDiscount
  (decimal price, AccountStatus accountStatus, int timeOfHavingAccountInYears)
{
  decimal priceAfterDiscount = 0;
  priceAfterDiscount = 
    _factory.GetAccountDiscountCalculator(accountStatus).ApplyDiscount(price);
  priceAfterDiscount = 
  _loyaltyDiscountCalculator.ApplyDiscount(priceAfterDiscount, timeOfHavingAccountInYears);
  return priceAfterDiscount;
}

Conclusion

The code presented in this article is extremely simplified to make explanation of used techniques and patterns easier. It shows how common programming problems can be resolved in a dirty way and what are benefits of resolving it in a proper, clean way using good practices and design patterns.

In my work experience, many times I saw bad practices highlighted in this article. They obviously exist in many places of application not in one class as in my example, which makes finding them even more difficult as they are hidden between proper code. People who are writing this kind of code always argue that they are following Keep It Simple Stupid rule. Unfortunately, almost always systems are growing up and becoming very complex. Then every modification in this simple, unextendable code is very tough and brings huge risk of breaking something.

Bear in mind that your code will live in a production environment for a long time and will be modified on every business requirement change. So writing too simple, unextendable code will have serious consequences very soon. And finally, it be nice for developers who will maintain your code after yourself :)

If you have some questions based ib this article, don't hesitate to contact me!

Image 12

History

  • 6th March, 2016: Initial version

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

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About the Author

Passionate, Microsoft Certified Software Developer(Senior),
having Masters Degree in Information Technology.

Comments and Discussions

 
GeneralRe: Hard to read Pin
Radosław Sadowski15-Mar-16 8:23
MemberRadosław Sadowski15-Mar-16 8:23 
GeneralRe: Hard to read Pin
jrobb22915-Mar-16 9:01
Memberjrobb22915-Mar-16 9:01 
GeneralRe: Hard to read Pin
Radosław Sadowski15-Mar-16 10:10
MemberRadosław Sadowski15-Mar-16 10:10 
AnswerRe: Hard to read Pin
maxoptimus16-Mar-16 0:15
Membermaxoptimus16-Mar-16 0:15 
GeneralRe: Hard to read Pin
Radosław Sadowski16-Mar-16 0:41
MemberRadosław Sadowski16-Mar-16 0:41 
AnswerRe: Hard to read Pin
Peter Goodwin25-Apr-16 7:29
MemberPeter Goodwin25-Apr-16 7:29 
QuestionNicely written, but not agree with switch case. Pin
Anupam Singh13-Mar-16 7:45
MemberAnupam Singh13-Mar-16 7:45 
AnswerRe: Nicely written, but not agree with switch case. Pin
Austin Mullins18-Mar-16 9:19
MemberAustin Mullins18-Mar-16 9:19 
It seems like, since we're talking about different types of customers, the different discount logic should reside in virtual methods defined sub-classes of Account. Each sub-class could also define it's own loyalty discount rate, and since the Account object already knows its number of years active, it could incorporate the loyalty discount there instead of having it be passed into another function.
QuestionCustomer not satisfied by discount.... Pin
Member 1048548713-Mar-16 4:22
MemberMember 1048548713-Mar-16 4:22 
AnswerRe: Customer not satisfied by discount.... Pin
Michael Gr16-Oct-16 11:31
professionalMichael Gr16-Oct-16 11:31 
QuestionQuestions.. and comments Pin
rx7man11-Mar-16 23:56
Memberrx7man11-Mar-16 23:56 
AnswerRe: Questions.. and comments Pin
Rolf Borchmann13-Mar-16 3:00
MemberRolf Borchmann13-Mar-16 3:00 
GeneralRe: Questions.. and comments Pin
rx7man13-Mar-16 7:08
Memberrx7man13-Mar-16 7:08 
GeneralRe: Questions.. and comments Pin
SnegaKilimanjaro14-Mar-16 8:20
MemberSnegaKilimanjaro14-Mar-16 8:20 
GeneralRe: Questions.. and comments Pin
Radosław Sadowski14-Mar-16 11:48
MemberRadosław Sadowski14-Mar-16 11:48 
AnswerRe: Questions.. and comments Pin
Radosław Sadowski14-Mar-16 3:38
MemberRadosław Sadowski14-Mar-16 3:38 
GeneralRe: Questions.. and comments Pin
rx7man14-Mar-16 9:48
Memberrx7man14-Mar-16 9:48 
GeneralRe: Questions.. and comments Pin
Radosław Sadowski14-Mar-16 11:43
MemberRadosław Sadowski14-Mar-16 11:43 
SuggestionSwitch Case Hell Pin
Callum Linington (UK)11-Mar-16 3:59
MemberCallum Linington (UK)11-Mar-16 3:59 
GeneralRe: Switch Case Hell Pin
SylChamber11-Mar-16 17:54
MemberSylChamber11-Mar-16 17:54 
GeneralRe: Switch Case Hell Pin
George Swan12-Mar-16 5:57
MemberGeorge Swan12-Mar-16 5:57 
GeneralRe: Switch Case Hell Pin
Radosław Sadowski14-Mar-16 13:45
MemberRadosław Sadowski14-Mar-16 13:45 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
Luca Tabanelli11-Mar-16 3:45
MemberLuca Tabanelli11-Mar-16 3:45 
GeneralRe: My vote of 5 Pin
Radosław Sadowski14-Mar-16 3:24
MemberRadosław Sadowski14-Mar-16 3:24 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
D V L10-Mar-16 4:20
professionalD V L10-Mar-16 4:20 

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