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97 Things Every Programmer Should Know by Kevlin Henney

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Chapter 30. Don’t Repeat Yourself

Steve Smith

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OF ALL THE PRINCIPLES OF PROGRAMMING, Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY) is perhaps one of the most fundamental. The principle was formulated by Andy Hunt and Dave Thomas in The Pragmatic Programmer, and underlies many other well-known software development best practices and design patterns. The developer who learns to recognize duplication, and understands how to eliminate it through appropriate practice and proper abstraction, can produce much cleaner code than one who continuously infects the application with unnecessary repetition.

Duplication Is Waste

Every line of code that goes into an application must be maintained, and is a potential source of future bugs. Duplication needlessly bloats the codebase, resulting in more opportunities for bugs and adding accidental complexity to the system. The bloat that duplication adds to the system also makes it more difficult for developers working with the system to fully understand the entire system, or to be certain that changes made in one location do not also need to be made in other places that duplicate the logic they are working on. DRY requires that “every piece of knowledge must have a single, unambiguous, authoritative representation within a system.”

Repetition in Process Calls for Automation

Many processes in software development are repetitive and easily automated. The DRY principle applies ...

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