Polymorphism is one of the principles I always guide myself by. It is, for me, a way of thinking. It always reminds me that any piece of code will be replaced one day by another. Or there will be other similar pieces that will be used in some cases.
Things will always change and many times I have no idea what will come. I could spend time trying to guess new situations (which can be a waste of resources) or I could be prepared for when the time comes.
I always think about each entity/object/model/structure of my application. What does it represent? Could there be any other similar entities? Could there be more entities exactly like it, no just one of it? What is its relation to other entities?
Let’s say I got to the need of more similar entities. How will I pass them to functions? What code will I change if I want to change only one of them, add a new one or remove an old one? How could I implement the behavior differences between them? If X then do this, if Y then do this, if Z then do this?
I know it’s easy to just throw some code, some if statements, and to duplicate some code because I need just one quick thing to do a little different. Why should I think of design and architecture? I just need some code to do something. And this is how projects end up, in weeks, months, or years, being very hard to maintain and understand. It’s always “just this one thing”, but 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 is 5. Oh, no, it’s 6.
It took me a lot of time to see these things and the learning never stops, but it pays off. I often read and practice to find better ways of understanding my data. How data is modeled is one of the most important aspects, because it will affect the entire project. The extra time invested now will replace the much more time required each time I need to change something.
Even small things can and should be prepared for the future and, if I have a keep-things-simple mindset, I don’t let myself fall into over-engineering. I don’t implement the future, I’m just ready for it. Are you?