Cohesion and Coupling
If you feel that these twin concepts of cohesion and coupling sound familiar, you are absolutely right. Anyway, you might like to re-brush these two points by turning back on requirement capture and analysis, where we first came across cohesion and coupling as points to be noted during analysis. Now we will revisit them as a handy tool in the sizing the size of programs and modules.
As you know cohesion advance idea of writing small programs that should aim at as minimum tasks as possible; ideally one program should address just one task. The concept is experienced in many walks of life. In the current era of increasing specialization, a patient at times has to see multiple doctors, each looking after his/her own niche area of expertise for better service to the patient. The plus point of cohesion is that programs we write would be very small and thus quite manageable when it comes to maintenance.
On the other hand, coupling phenomenon points to the care one has to take for proper interaction between the two programs that need to ‘talk’ with each other by sharing some data or functionality. Just try to imagine managing the relations and interaction among the multiple doctors when it comes to a complicated multi-disciplinary case, which calls for a systematic sequencing of the treatments/tests by various doctors as inter-dependent processes. Unless these dependencies are neatly coordinated, the chances of the patient’s recovery are bleak. Likewise, the suit of programs/modules bundled together into a software product has to be mutinously planned for their interactions to ensure the harmony of software execution. If there is a mismatch, the results may be totally unexpected due to this flip side of a handshake (cooperation) among all such sub-systems.
Cohesion thus suggests logically breaking up a system into smaller sub-systems of a manageable size. Smaller the sub-system, the more cohesive it would be. This factor is countered with coupling between two or more sub-systems. As more and more sub-systems are encountered, the advantage of cohesion gets clouded with coupling concerns that have to be addressed. Thus, cohesion and coupling are to be relatively weighed for a golden mean that would perfectly balance them.
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