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SOLID is a mnemonic acronym for five design principles intended to make software designs more understandable, flexible and maintainable.


Every module or class should have responsibility over a single part of the functionality provided by the software, and that responsibility should be entirely encapsulated by the class, module or function. All its services should be narrowly aligned with that responsibility.

As an example, consider a module that compiles and prints a report. Imagine such a module can be changed for two reasons. First, the content of the report could change. Second, the format of the report could change. These two things change for very different causes; one substantive, and one cosmetic. The single-responsibility principle says that these two aspects of the problem are really two separate responsibilities, and should, therefore, be in separate classes or modules. It would be a bad design to couple two things that change for different reasons at different times.


Software entities (classes, modules, functions, etc.) should be open for extension, but closed for modification.

Implemented through the use of abstracted interfaces (abstract base classes), where the implementations can be changed and multiple implementations could be created and polymorphically substituted for each other. Interface specifications can be reused through inheritance but implementation need not be. The existing interface is closed to modifications and new implementations must, at a minimum, implement that interface.

Liskov substitution(LSP)

If S is a subtype of T, then objects of type T may be replaced with objects of type S without altering any of the desirable properties of the program.

It imposes some standard requirements on signatures(the inputs and outputs for a function, subroutine or method):

  • Contravariance of method arguments in the subtype.
  • Covariance of return types in the subtype.
  • No new exceptions should be thrown by methods of the subtype, except where those exceptions are themselves subtypes of exception thrown by the methods of the supertype.

Additionally, the subtype must meet the following behavioural conditions that restrict how contracts can interact with the inheritance:

  • Preconditions cannot be strengthened in a subtype.
  • Postconditions cannot be weakened in a subtype.
  • Invariants of the supertype must be preserved in a subtype.
  • History constraint. Objects are regarded as being modifiable only through their methods. Because subtypes may introduce methods that are not present in the supertype, the introduction of these methods may allow state changes in the subtype that are not permissible in the supertype. This is not allowed. Fields added to the subtype may however be safely modified because they are not observable through the supertype methods.

Interface segregation (ISP)

No client should be forced to depend on methods it does not use. ISP splits interfaces that are very large into smaller and more specific ones so that clients will only have to know about the methods that are of interest to them. ISP is intended to keep a system decoupled and thus easier to refactor, change, and redeploy.

For example, Xerox had created a new printer system that could perform a variety of tasks such as stapling and faxing. The software for this system was created from the ground up. As the software grew, making modifications became more and more difficult so that even the smallest change would take a redeployment cycle of an hour, which made development nearly impossible.

The design problem was that a single Job class was used by almost all of the tasks. Whenever a print job or a stapling job needed to be performed, a call was made to the Job class. This resulted in a 'fat' class with multitudes of methods specific to a variety of different clients. Because of this design, a staple job would know about all the methods of the print job, even though there was no use for them.

The solution suggested by Martin utilized what is today called the Interface Segregation Principle. Applied to the Xerox software, an interface layer between the Job class and its clients was added using the Dependency Inversion Principle. Instead of having one large Job class, a Staple Job interface or a Print Job interface was created that would be used by the Staple or Print classes, respectively, calling methods of the Job class. Therefore, one interface was created for each job type, which was all implemented by the Job class.

Dependency inversion

Specific form of decoupling software modules where the conventional dependency relationships established from high-level, policy setting modules to low-level, dependency modules are reversed, thus rendering high-level modules independent of the low-level module implementation details.

  • High-level modules should not depend on low-level modules. Both should depend on abstractions (e.g. interfaces).

    Depends on doesn't mean imports or calls, necessarily, but rather a more general idea that one module knows about or needs another module.

  • Abstractions should not depend on details. Details (concrete implementations) should depend on abstractions.

The idea behind points A and B of this principle is that when designing the interaction between a high-level module and a low-level one, the interaction should be thought of as an abstract interaction between them. This not only has implications on the design of the high-level module, but also on the low-level one: the low-level one should be designed with the interaction in mind and it may be necessary to change its usage interface. Thinking about the interaction in itself as an abstract concept allows the coupling of the components to be reduced without introducing additional coding patterns, allowing only a lighter and less implementation dependent interaction schema.


Last update: 2020-06-29