Mysterious Abstractions

I was surprised to find out that not many people can create good abstraction. Many people are good in thinking about concrete objects and problems, but only a few of these can think abstractly. We in the software industry are forced to think abstractly from the very beginning, as software itself is somehow abstract. However when it comes to creating higher-level software abstractions, people often fail.

Interfaces are probably the most significant abstractions in software. Interfaces are formed from programming languages constructs, network protocol messages, states and sequences, signals, file formats, XML tags and many other elements. Interfaces provide a basic mechanism that an architect can use to exercise control over the system. Interfaces are powerful tool to contain change, to enhance reusability, to make the system more understandable and manageable. Yet too many interface definitions are weak, imprecise, incomplete or outright misleading.

During the course of several years I found myself gradually compiling a list of items that need to be included in a good interface definition. Recently I have found the time to put it into a document, add some explanation and examples. The result is here:

Interface Definition, Guidelines and Recommendations

I have decided to publish it under Creative Commons Attribution license (CC-BY) so you can freely use it in your project as long as you give me a proper credit. I recommend you to copy and paste parts of the document to create a guidelines suitable for your project. I hope that this helps many people to improve the skill of creating abstractions.