SOLID: Open/Closed Principle

1 minute read

TIL about the open/closed principle, and how it can be used to ensure your code is adaptable to new requirements while remaining resilient to changes.

The open/closed principle is the O in SOLID, and like the single responsibility principle it is, at its core, all about reducing the impact of changes to your system.

The principle states that a class should be open for extensions, yet closed for modification.

To state it more plainly: when requirements change, instead of needing to modify code that already exists to conform to those requirements, one should be able to adapt or extend previously written modules to write new code to support new requirements.

This way, code that was previously working to satisfy old requirements remains working.

A traditional example of the open/closed principle in action is the decorator pattern.

A decorator is used to modify the behavior of a wrapped class by delegating to the implementation of wrapped methods and “decorating” the result with new behavior. New code is isolated to the decorator, and the implementation contained within the wrapped class remains un-modified.

In this way, the wrapped class is open for extension (i.e. it implements a common decorator interface) but is closed for modification. Changes are isolated to decorators, and any number of new decorators can be added as needed.

In this sense, the open/closed principle is just another way of limiting the impact of change within your code.