I am really interested to find out more about this concept of “clean code”, and in particular how it relates to programming language. To this end, I’m still chewing on KataArgs.

My latest idea is to start from Bob Martin’s Java implementation, and translate this as directly as possible into python. My idea is to then refactor it to be more pythonic, and see if it turns out looking anything like his Ruby implementation.

I have put up some code on launchpad, which is my attempt at a direct translation of the Java. It was really interesting to do, actually. Of course I had read the Java before, and followed along in the book all the steps to create it, but actually translating it made me understand the code on another level. When I tackled this Kata from scratch, I also got a much better understanding of it, but this was different.

One thing that jumped out at me was the error handling. It’s much more comprehensive than anything I’ve produced in my own solutions, and also compared with his Ruby solution. So I think it’s a bit misleading of him to say “I recently rewrote this in Ruby and it was 1/7 the size”. Of course it is smaller. It does less. Although to be fair, in a way it does more too…

One thing I found awkward to translate was the use of the enum for the list of error codes. Python doesn’t have a direct equivalent, being dynamic as it is. The other awkwardness was the Java iterator. In python iterators are built into the language, but don’t let you backtrack, or get the current index, unlike Java ones. I was surprised to find how extensively the tests rely on this functionality. To my mind, they probe the internals of the args parser too much.

By far my most interesting observation, though, is the one I want to explore more. This code is well written Java, but directly translated, it makes pretty poor python. Why is that? What, specifically, are the smells, and what are the antidote refactorings?

I will no doubt post more on what I find, (with the help of my friends at GothPy, of course)