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How to Design Early Returns in C++ (Based on Procedural Programming) – Fluent C++

Posted by jpluimers on 2019/05/15

One more thing to take away from Procedural Programming: It’s Back? It Never Went Away – Kevlin Henney [ACCU 2018] – YouTube was explained in [WayBack] How to Design Early Returns in C++ (Based on Procedural Programming) – Fluent C++.

Though in C++, it applies to all programming languages that stem from a procedural background (Pascal, C#, Java, golang, to name just a few).

The article is about keeping an if/else-if/else tree, even when they can be removed becomes some of their bodies perform an early return, as

In C++, as well as in other languages, the return keyword has two responsibilities:

  • interrupting control flow,
  • yielding a value.

It basically comes down to this argument:

Essentially, the argument for Code #1 is that you need to know less to understand the structure of the code.

Indeed, if we fold away the contents of the if statements, Code #1 becomes this:

The structure of the code is very clear. There are 4 different paths based on the year, they’re independent from each other, and each path will determine the boolean result of the function (if it doesn’t throw an exception).

Now let’s see how Code #2 looks like when we fold away the if statements:

And now we know much less. Do the if statements contain a return? Maybe.

Do they depend on each other? Potentially.

Do some of them rely on the last return false of the function? Can’t tell.

With Code #2, you need to look inside of the if statement to understand the structure of the function. For that reason, Code #1 requires a reader to know less to understand the structure. It gives away information more easily than Code #2.

–jeroen

via [WayBack] Kevlin Henney – Google+: How to Design Early Returns in C++ (Based on Procedural Programming) – Fluent C++

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