Overusing Software Reuse

Well intentioned, but poorly considered efforts at code reuse can cause allsorts of maintenance pain – engineering best practice shouldn’t be applied unthinkingly. Although software reuse can be good (see Dry Principle, for example) it should only be applied where there isn’t too much variation from the common case.

Taking code reuse as an example, a good software engineer will judge what should be considered the common case and how much variation from it would result in poor application of reuse. That type of judgement often comes with the experience of having attempted reuse where it isn’t best suited!

Poor results often come where a good case for reuse hasn’t yet been established – i.e. where it is only anticipated there’s such a case for reuse.┬áBefore embarking on an effort to create generic, reusable code, the rule-of-thumb, ‘use before reuse’, normally applies. A corollary to this is that good quality reusable code is often factored from existing (well designed) code, or at least evolves.