High Cohesion

Problem

How to keep objects focused, understandable, and manageable, and as a side effect, support Low Coupling?

In terms of object design, cohesion (or more specifically, functional cohesion) is a measure of how strongly related and focused the responsibilities of an element are. An element with highly related responsibilities that does not do a tremendous amount of work has high cohesion. These elements include classes, subsystems, and so on.

Solution

Assign a responsibility so that cohesion remains high. Use this to evaluate alternatives.

A class with low cohesion does many unrelated things or does too much work. Such classes are undesirable; they suffer from the following problems:

         hard to comprehend

         hard to reuse

         hard to maintain

         delicate; constantly affected by change

Low cohesion classes often represent a very "large grain" of abstraction or have taken on responsibilities that should have been delegated to other objects.

Here are some scenarios that illustrate varying degrees of functional cohesion:

1.      Very low cohesion A class is solely responsible for many things in very different functional areas.

o        Assume the existence of a class called RDB-RPC-Interface which is completely responsible for interacting with relational databases and for handling remote procedure calls. These are two vastly different functional areas, and each requires lots of supporting code. The responsibilities should be split into a family of classes related to RDB access and a family related to RPC support.

2.      Low cohesion A class has sole responsibility for a complex task in one functional area.

o        Assume the existence of a class called RDBInterface which is completely responsible for interacting with relational databases. The methods of the class are all related, but there are lots of them, and a tremendous amount of supporting code; there may be hundreds or thousands of methods. The class should split into a family of lightweight classes sharing the work to provide RDB access.

3.      High cohesion A class has moderate responsibilities in one functional area and collaborates with other classes to fulfill tasks.

o        Assume the existence of a class called RDBInterface that is only partially responsible for interacting with relational databases. It interacts with a dozen other classes related to RDB access in order to retrieve and save objects.

4.      Moderate cohesion A class has lightweight and sole responsibilities in a few different areas that are logically related to the class concept but not to each other.

o        Assume the existence of a class called Company that is completely responsible for (a) knowing its employees and (b) knowing its financial information. These two areas are not strongly related to each other, although both are logically related to the concept of a company. In addition, the total number of public methods is small, as is the amount of supporting code.