Convert Procedural Design to Objects

You have code written in a procedural style.

Turn the data records into objects, break up the behavior, and move the behavior to the objects.



A client of ours once started a project with two absolute principles the developers had to follow: (1) you must use Java, (2) you must not use objects.

We may laugh, but although Java is an object-oriented language, there is more to using objects than calling a constructor. Using objects well takes time to learn. Often you're faced with the problem of procedure-like code that has to be more object oriented. The typical situation is long procedural methods on a class with little data and dumb data objects with nothing more than accessors. If you are converting from a purely procedural program, you may not even have this, but it's a good place to start.

We are not saying that you should never have objects with behavior and little or no data. We often use small strategy objects when we need to vary behavior. However, such procedural objects usually are small and are used when we have a particular need for flexibility.


  • Take each record type and turn it into a dumb data object with accessors.
    If you have a relational database, take each table and turn it into a dumb data object.
  • Take all the procedural code and put it into a single class.
    You can either make the class a singleton (for ease of reinitialization) or make the methods static.
  • Take each long procedure and apply Extract Method and the related refactorings to break it down. As you break down the procedures, use Move Method to move each one to the appropriate dumb data class.
  • Continue until you've removed all the behavior away from the original class. If the original class was a purely procedural class, it's very gratifying to delete it.