The Wrapper vs. Library vs. Aspect Problem
Imagine that we've got a collection of applications used by customers to provide data, a collection of applications we use to collect data from vendors. We've got a third collection of analytical tools. Currently, they share a common database, but the focus, use cases, and interfaces are different. Okay so far? Three closely-related groups or families of applications.
We need to introduce a new cross-cutting capability. Let's imagine that it's something central like using celery to manage long-running batch jobs. Clearly, we don't want to just hack celery features into all three families of applications. Do we?
It appears that we have three choices.
- A "wrapper" application that unifies all the application families and provides a new central application. Responsibilities shift to the new application.
- A site-specific library that layers some common features so that our various families of applications can be more consistent. This involves less of a responsibility shift.
- An "aspect" via Aspect-Oriented programming techniques. Perhaps some additional decorators added to the various applications to make them use the new functionality in a consistent way.
- The workflows in the "wrapper" application needed constant tweaking as the other applications evolved. Every time we wanted to add a step, we had to update the real application and also update the wrapper. Python has a lot of introspection, but these aren't technical changes, these are user-visible workflow changes.
- Introducing a new data types and file formats was painful. The responsibility for this is effectively split between the wrapper and the underlying applications. The wrapper merely serves to dilute the responsibilities.
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