Organizing code, logical layout of segmented files

I have known enough about programming to get me in trouble for about 10 years now. I have no formal education, though I've read many books on the subject for various languages. The language I am primarily focused on now would be PHP, at least for the scale of things I am doing now.

I have used some OOP classes for a while, but never took the dive into understanding the principles behind the scenes. I am still not at the level I would like to be expression-wise, but my recent reading of the book The OOP Thought Process has left me wanting to advance my programming skills.

With motivation from the new concepts, I've started a new project. I've coded some re-usable classes that deal with user auth, user profiles, database interfacing, and some other stuff I use regularly on most projects.

Now having split my typical garbled spaghetti-bowl mess of code into somewhat organized files, I've been having some problems when it comes to making sure files are all included when they need to be, how to logically divide the scripts up into classes, and how segmented I should be making each class.

What I'm really asking for is advice or suggested reading that focuses not on specific functions and formats of code, but on the logical layout of projects that are larger than just a hobby project.

I want to learn how to do things properly, and while I am still learning in some areas, this is something that I have no clue about other than just being creative, and trial/error. Mostly error.

Thanks for any replies. This place is great.


I will try to express my experience from previous projects here, maybe they help you.

If you try to segment your project, try to find components that might be useful as themselves. If you write e.g. a database layer, think about what to do to make the database layer independent from the rest of your application (except utility classes and configuration). If you write a RichClient that accesses the database layer, try to put exactly the stuff you need in it which you would also need when accessing it from a Web layer. Now you have a component that would maybe even useful in a command line client.

Or if you want to see this from a lower level, split your application into small units, and don't let these units have circular dependencies!!! If two components have circular dependencies, they cannot be splitted and should really be a single component. I know, I broke this rule some times because you cannot hold it up always, but it is a good rule to get understanding of the building blocks of your app.

Another popular dividing rule of an application is the Model-View-Control Pattern (MVC), which states that the Model (the data classes), the Control (the logic of your program) and the View (The graphical user interface) should be splittet into distinct packages. While I adhere to this, I would divide my code like this. Within each package I have distinct model, view and control classes, but the model classes don't know anything about the control layer, and the control layer does not know anything about the GUI.

Since GUI development is always tedious, and therefore often the least tested part (at least in unit tests) of an application, splitting it from the control make writing the buisiness logic a lot easier. In fact, it lets you concentrate on what you have to do, which is getting work done, which you code in buisiness logic. If this part works, you can spend time writing a nice GUI for it. Of course will the GUI and ease of use often bring their own requirements to the control, but at least its loosely coupled.

In my current large project we have some bit components, which we now see as independent products, which get used by the really product. This makes testing and writing the independent component easier for the person in charge, and gives everyone a more stable component.

Just my 2ยข.

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