Day 2: Developing A Path For Upgrading Dependencies

If there is any constant in the software world, it is that dependencies are constantly changing. Thus, this brings us to our second principle: modern applications must have an upgrade path for dependencies.

In the PHP world, this often means managing the Composer dependencies we rely on for our application. We should be aware of and willing to implement changes in the libraries we directly depend upon. This has two impacts on our code: first, it forces us to regularly follow along with the projects we use, and second, it forces us to pare down the list of dependencies that we ultimately depend on.

Projects are constantly changing, and it’s up to us to know what those changes are and follow along. While we may not understand every bug that goes into a release for a minor version, we should be aware of and planning for changes in major versions. We should know if a project uses semantic versioning or some other version, and we should be careful to limit our Composer updates to guard against unwanted versions. And if possible, we should consider supporting the author of the package, and being involved in its development.

In addition, the list of dependencies we accept in our application should be as small as possible. We should write our own code in cases where we might integrate a package for a single function. Packages that do make the cut and get integrated into our project should be proxied through our own adapters, to ensure we can easily remove them if they pivot or introduce changes that are incompatible with our needs. We should be careful not to depend on “third party dependencies” – those dependencies that other packages depend on, but we do not explicitly depend upon. And we should regularly review and clean up unused or underused dependencies. Tests around the integrations should be solid, as well.

These changes will help applications to have clear paths forward when packages upgrade, and eliminate the fear and uncertainty of upgrading by limiting the risk. By eliminating risk, we increase the chances we will do the upgrades, and this will increase the chances that the upgrades are pain-free or minimally painful overall.

Saturday, December 26th, 2020 @ 9:00 am | Comments (0) | Categories: Dependency Management

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