Archive for the 'Design Patterns Principles' Category

State Maze Part 2: Play

maze2PHP Game Mechanics

In Part I of this “State Maze” series, you see that each cell in the matrix is a coordinate on a grid, and using the alphanumeric coordinate designation, each implementation of a state interface (class) is named with a grid coordinate. (If you have not looked at Part I, do so now.)

The problem with using an HTML UI (See Part I) is that each time the player makes a move, it generates a new instance of the client that makes the move in the State pattern. As a result, I had to create a Json file to store each move. This solution still does not allow the same instance to be re-used and keep a running record of where the player is, but I haven’t found a satisfactory solution elsewhere. (I’m looking at Ajax and RESTful APIs, but nothing yet.) If you’ve developed games with ActionScript (of Flash fame) or Python, you can easily keep a running record in a class property without re-instantiaing the class in a variable. Ironically, by placing the HTML code in a PHP heredoc string, the class with the HTML in it does not have to be re-instantiated, but the client it launches does. To get started, go ahead and play the maze-game and explore the different OOP and Design Pattern principles and languages that use OOP. You will be asked to provide a “seeker” name. The default name is “chump.” Don’t use that name! (Don’t be a chump…) Use a 5-letter name of your own. It will be used to track your progress through the maze.


This is not an easy maze (nor does it follow the route of the maze in Part I.) So, keep track of your moves, and if you fall into a sequential trap, you have to start over.

State Overview

If you review the State design pattern, especially the class diagram in Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software by Gamma, Helm, Johnson and Vlissides (AKA “The Gang of Four” or GoF) you will see that the Sate pattern consists of Context, State Interface and Concrete States implementing the State Interface. In other words, it’s one of the least complex-looking patterns among design patterns.

Figure 1 shows a file diagram of the current implementation; however, the additional files beyond the basic pattern implementation are files with helper elements for CSS and Json.

Figure 1: File Diagram

Figure 1: File Diagram

With a maze, the State design does require a lot of files — one for each state, and some would prefer a table look-up for dealing with a maze-type application. However, a table look-up has its own issues, and making changes and adding actions can tie a table in a knot. Besides, it’s much easier to re-use a state pattern by changing the method calls within each state without even having to change the context or client at all. Further, since all of the states implement the same interface, once one implementation is completed, it can be copied and pasted, changing only the name of the class and the behavior of the implemented methods defined by the interface. As can be seen in Figure 2, the State pattern used in this implementation adheres to the fundamentals of the State Design Pattern as proposed by GoF.

Figure 2: State Class Diagram

Figure 2: State Class Diagram

Each of the state implementations are designated A1State to E4State. (See the labeled grid in Figure 2 in Part I). Of course, while the State design pattern diagram is relatively simple, the Context can be challenging, especially when using a Json file for recording moves. However, to get started with the code, we’ll start at the beginning with the UI and the Client that makes requests to the State pattern.

The UI and Client

The UI is an HTML5 document embedded in a PHP class and is more of an HTML document than a PHP one. A heredoc string (EXPLORE) is placed in a PHP private variable, $explorerUI. An echo statement displays the HTML on the screen when the $worker variable instantiates the PHP class.

< ?php
class ExplorerUI
    private $explorerUI;
    public function __construct()
        //Use the Security object to encode table
        $this->explorerUI=< <<EXPLORE
        <!DOCTYPE html>
            <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="explorer.css"/>
            <meta charset="UTF-8"/>
            <title>OOP Cavern</title>
            <h2>OOP Explorer</h2>
        <h3>Explore Next Direction</h3>
        <legend>Move Options</legend>
        <form action="ExplorerClient.php" method="post" target="cavestate">
            <tr><td></td><td><input type="radio" name="move" value="northMove"/>&nbsp;Move North</td><td></td></tr>
            <tr><td><input type="radio" name="move" value="westMove" checked="checked"/>&nbsp;Move West</td><td></td><td></td><td><input type="radio" name="move" value="eastMove"/>&nbsp;Move East</td></tr>
            <tr><td></td><td><input type="radio" name="move" value="southMove"/>&nbsp;Move South</td><td></td></tr>
        &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<input type = "text" name="seeker" maxlength="5" size="6" value ="chump"/>&nbsp Your seeker name: Five characters; no spaces<p></p>
        <input type="submit" class="submit" name ="makemove" value ="Make your move"/>
        <iframe seamless name="cavestate" width="500" height="450">CaveState</iframe>
        echo $this->explorerUI;
$worker=new ExplorerUI();

I used a table for setting up the UI “move center” to make it easy for the player to select the next move. (A CSS form for the move center certainly would be more elegant, but the table worked ok; so I used it after testing it on a desktop, tablet and smartphone.) You can see how the UI looks in Figure 1 in Part I of the State maze).
Continue reading ‘State Maze Part 2: Play’


The Design Pattern Principle Maze Part 1: A Story in a State Pattern

Happy New Year Everyone!

mazeFor the last ten weeks I’ve been learning functional programming and Haskell through an edX MOOC offered through Delft University (DelftX) in the Netherlands. (TU Delft is The Netherland’s equivalent to MIT in the US) Check out the YouTube video on the course here. That’s why I haven’t been creating new posts for this blog. Now it’s time to catch up! So, I’ve created a maze game that explores the major principles in design pattern programming using a State design pattern.

Play with a Purpose

This particular maze follows a trail of OOP and Design Pattern principles to the end of the maze. As you find each principle, you will see an image and a statement of the principle. For example, the first part of the maze moves through the S.O.L.I.D. acronym to help you remember five basic OOP principles. When you find the room with the Interface Segregation principle, Figure 1 shows what you will see:

Figure 1: A room in the maze with an OOP principle.

Figure 1: A room in the maze with an OOP principle.

Movement is controlled by a set of four ratio button and a “Make Move” button. Each user must include a unique user name where the moves for the user are stored in a Json file. A State Design Pattern helps not only in creating this maze, but it is a template for any 5 x 5 maze!

Why use a State Pattern on a Maze?

In building a D&D style maze, I started out with a blank sheet of paper and sketched out a 5 x 5 maze shown in Figure 2 (with labels).

Figure 2: The 5 by 5 Matrix --  coordinate values will become class names.

Figure 2: The 5 by 5 Matrix — coordinate values will become class names.

By picturing the matrix as being made up of 25 different states, the reason for using a State design pattern starts to take shape. If each grid square is a state, we can create code that determines what happens to the player who moves into a given state (square).

Adding Start/Finish Points and Trouble

You can decide which states will be the starting and ending states simply by designating them as such. As you can see in Figure 3, the game starts in B1 and ends in D5. The next step is to add back-to-the-start traps. These represent any kind of booby-trap you care to add to make the game interesting. You want to add enough to make the player pay attention but not so many as to make it impossible. Figure 3 shows six sequential traps–game re-start conditions that must be avoided.

Figure 3:  Add start and end states and booby-traps.

Figure 3: Add start and end states and booby-traps.

In building your maze, keep in mind that for the player, it will seem like a cavern; not the chessboard that you can see. Continue reading ‘The Design Pattern Principle Maze Part 1: A Story in a State Pattern’


PHP OOP: Back to Basics

beginBack to Basics

Whenever I venture outside of PHP, which has become more regular as I’m working on app development in both iOS and Android. The former is Objective C and the latter, Java. Both languages are embedded in OOP and design patterns. It is during these ventures abroad (so to speak) that I’m reminded of some core issues in good OOP. I usually notice them when I realize that I’m not exactly paying attention to them myself.

Don’t Have the Constructor Function Do Any Real Work

When I first came across the admonition not to have the constructor function do any real work, I was reading Miško Hevery’s article on a testability flaw due to having the constructor doing real work. More recently, I was reviewing some materials in the second edition of Head First Java, where the user is encouraged to,

Quick! Get out of main!

For some Java and lots of C programmers “main” is the name for a constructor function, but I like PHP’s __construct() function as the preferred name since it is pretty self-describing. “Main” is a terrible name because the real main is in the program made up of interacting classes.

In both cases, the warning about minimizing the work of the constructor function is to focus on true object oriented applications where you need objects talking to one another. Think of this as a series of requests where a group of people are all cooperatively working together, each from a separate (encapsulated) cubicle, to accomplish a task. By having the constructor function do very little, you’re forcing yourself (as a programmer) to use collaborative classes. Play the example and download the code to get started:

A General Model for PHP OOP

As a nice simple starting place for PHP OOP, I’ve borrowed from the ASP.NET/C# relationship. ASP.NET provides the forms and UI, and C# is the engine. As an OOP jump-off point, we can substitute HTML for ASP.NET and PHP for C#. The Client class is the “requester” class. The UI (HTML) sends a request to the Client, and the Client farms out the request to the appropriate class. Figure 2 shows this simple relationship.

Figure 1: A Simple OOP PHP Model

Figure 1: A Simple OOP PHP Model

If you stop and think about it, OOP is simply a way to divide up a request into different specializations.

Avoid Conditional Statements if Possible

Figure 2: Requests begins with a UI built in HTML

Figure 2: Requests begins with a UI built in HTML

If you avoid conditional statements, and this includes switch statements, I think you can become a lot better programmer. In the example I built for this post, the user chooses from two different types of requests (classes), and each request has a refined request (method) that provides either of two different kinds of math calculations or display options. Figure 2 shows the UI (HTML) for the example. If the user selects “Do a Calculation” it sends the request to the Calculate class, but if the user selects “Display a story”, the request is handled by the Display class. Further, not only must the right class be selected, the right method in that class must be selected as well. The obvious answer is to get information from the UI and using a switch or set of conditional statements work out in the Client how to handle each request. You could even use (shudder) nested conditional statements. That approach could work, but when you start piling up conditional statements, you’re more likely to introduce errors, and when you make changes, you’re even more likely to make errors. The only good thing about conditionals is that you don’t have to tax your brain to use them.

Suppose for a second that all of your conditional statements were taken away. How, using the information sent from the HTML UI to the Client class can the selections be made without conditional statements? (Think about this for a moment.)

Think, pensez, pense, думайте, piense, 생각하십시오, denken Sie, 考えなさい, pensi, 认为, σκεφτείτε, , denk

Like all things that seem complex, the solution is pretty simple. (Aren’t they all once you know the answer.) Both classes were given the value of their class name in their respective radio button input tags. Likewise, the methods were given the value of their method names. With two radio button sets (request and method), only two values would be passed to the Client class. So all the Client had to do was to use the request string as a class name to instantiate an instance of the class, and employ the following built-in function:

call_user_func(array(object, method));

That generates a request like the following:


In other words, it acts just like any other request for a class method. By coordinating the Client with the HTML UI, that was possible without using a single conditional statement. In this next section, we’ll now look at the code.
Continue reading ‘PHP OOP: Back to Basics’


PHP Strategy Design Pattern Part II: Add a Context

pulp Adding a Context

A few years back, a post on this blog looked at examples of PHP design patterns that had missing parts. In 2006, an IBM sponsored post introduced PHPers to design patterns in “Five common PHP design patterns.” This was an important post because it demonstrated that far from being the exclusive domain of languages like Java, design patterns were applicable to PHP as well. However, of the five patterns, (Factory [Factory Method], Singleton, Chain-of-Command [Chain-of-Responsibility] , Observer, and Strategy) two (Factory and Chain-of-Command) were misnamed and misrepresented, one (Singleton) has since been more-or-less deprecated as a pattern (by no less than Erich Gamma) and the other two were iffy in their implementation.

Like lemmings following each other over a cliff, PHPers often followed each wrong example, further perpetuating the ill-formed pattern. So, when we look at patterns, lest PHP programmers be considered rank amateurs, we need to get patterns right. One of the most common mistakes with the Strategy pattern is either ignoring or leaving out the Context class altogether. In Part I of this two-part series, we saw what a Near-Strategy pattern looks like without a Context class. In Figure 1 of that same post, you can see the class diagrams of the Near-Strategy and Strategy patterns. The example in this post is of a correctly formed Strategy pattern. Play the Strategy example and Download the files with the following two buttons:

The Context Participant

To get the Context right, we need to go to the original source, Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software. The Context participant has the following characteristics:

  • Configured with a ConcreteStrategy object
  • Maintains to reference to a Strategy object
  • May define an interface that lets Strategy access its data

At the heart of the Strategy design pattern, the Context and Strategy interact to implement the selected algorithm in the form of a concrete strategy. The key here is,

The Strategy lets the algorithm vary independly from clients that use it.

In order to do this,

A context forwards requests from its clients to its strategy. Clients usually create and pass a ConcreteStrategy object to the context; thereafter, clients interact with the context exclusively.

Figure 1 shows the path used in this implementation:

Figure 1: The path through the context to request an algorithm (concrete strategy)

Figure 1: The path through the context to request an algorithm (concrete strategy)

The path begins with the Client creating an instance of a specific concrete strategy (received from the HTML UI) and using that instance as a parameter to make the request through the context. From this point on, the client no longer is in contact with the strategy but instead the context. The context takes the instance passed from the client and makes the request through the strategy interface [algorithmInterface()]. Any client can make similar requests through the context by passing the concrete strategy through its context interface. That can be very handy when your program has more than a single client requiring a strategy.
Continue reading ‘PHP Strategy Design Pattern Part II: Add a Context’


PHP Recursion Using Factory Method: Programming to the Interface

recurCoverRecursion as Client

Previous posts on this blog discussed Recursion and the Factory Method design pattern. In working with a recursive object to traverse a list of strings or numbers (or any other objects for that matter), PHP developers typically target an array. In developing a simple recursive object, I realized that it made more sense to set up an another class for the array object. Why bind the process or creating and populating an array to the object designed to transverse it? After all, what if you wanted to use the object to traverse any list; not just the one bound to the recursion operation?

The Factory Method for Handling Array Objects

From the not-too-difficult decision to separate the array creation and population process from the transversal process, it was a pretty quick leap to using the Factory Method. That would give me plenty of flexibility, and I would be able to use the factory implementations to do different things with the products—like sort or filter them before returning them to the requesting client.

In this case, the requesting client would be the Recursion object.

The Client class triggers the appropriate method in the Recursion object to select whatever list is available. The selection process would be handled by an HTML UI. The class diagram is integrated into the application. Click the Play button below first to see the operation and class diagram and then the Download button to get all of the files:

When you Play the program, notice in the class diagram that the Recursion class includes a method, getArray(Factory). This method is an example of programming to the interface and not the implementation. The method expects an argument that is a Factory child, but it can be any Factory implementation. The type hint is the Factory interface and so any implementation of Factory works fine. As a result, you can add as many different Factory implementations as you want without having to worry about a train wreck like you can get easily by programming to implementations.

The Recursion Class Makes use of the Factory

As noted at the outset, the Recursion object is set up to use any Factory implementation. In this example, only three implementations use the Factory interface. The factory method itself is makeArray(), but it’s left to the implementations how the array to be returned to the requester—the Recursion class. The PeopleFactory and PetsFactory sort the list in alphabetical order before returning it to the requesting client. However, the ToolsFactory uses a reverse sort so that the highest Wrench element is first and the Awl is last. The recursive iterator in the Recursion object could care less; it just transverses whatever list it gets from the Factory implementation and prints it to the screen.

class Recursion
    //The Recursion class is the Client
    //in making a request from the Factory
    private $members;
    private $counter=0;
    private $size;
    public function getPeople()
        //Makes request to Factory child
        $factoryNow=new PeopleFactory();
    public function getTools()
        //Makes request to Factory child
        $factoryNow=new ToolFactory();
    public function getPets()
        //Makes request to Factory child
        $factoryNow=new PetsFactory();
    //By programming to the interface (Factory)
    //you can use different implementations
    private function getArray(Factory $factoryBuild)
    private function recursive()
        if($this->counter <= $this->size)
            echo "<span style='color:white; font-family:Verdana,Arial, Helvetica,sans-serif'>" . $this->members[$this->counter] . "<br /> </span>";
            return $this->recursive();

As you can see, the recursive() method is pretty simple. It just keeps using echo to send the current element value to the screen, increments the counter by 1, and then if it hasn’t exceeded the length of the array, it calls itself to repeat the process. The Factory implementations already took care of the sorting arrangements–or anything else developers want the Factory implementations to do.

Each of the 3 public “getter” methods call the private getArray(Factory) method using a Factory implementation as an argument. The passed argument calls the factory method (makeArray()) to get the requested array which is stored in the $members property. Finally, getArray(Factory) calls the recursive() iteration method that traverses the $members property containing the array.

A Lot of Work for Iteration

If you’re thinking

…that’s a lot of work for a simple operation (displaying sorted lists on the screen)

I’d not disagree. The point of design patterns, though, is re-use on a much larger scale. As projects get bigger and bigger, you need tools to deal with them. The good news is that if you can use them on a small scale like the examples on this blog and in Learning PHP Design Patterns, you’re prepared to work on larger projects involving teams of programmers and some seriously good applications.