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Cover image for Code Smell 28 - Setters
Maxi Contieri
Maxi Contieri

Posted on • Originally published at

Code Smell 28 - Setters

The first exercise junior programmers do. IDEs, tutorial and senior developers keep teaching them this anti-pattern.


  • Mutability

  • Information Hiding

  • Anemic Models

  • Fail Fast

  • Integrity

  • Duplicated Code


  1. Avoid Setters

  2. Set essential attributes on private initialization.

Sample Code


Mutation brings lots of problems

Information Hiding Violated



First step will be to forbid public attributes (if language allows them).

Secondly, we will search for methods setXXXX(), analyzing method structure (should be an assignment to attribute xxxx).

We should not forbid methods setting accidental state since this is valid. They should not be named setters since they ask the object to change, but they don't set anything.


  • DTOs


Setting attributes is safe for non-essential attributes.

But it has all drawbacks and considerations already mentioned.


  • Mutation

  • Information Hiding


Creating incomplete and anemic objects is a very bad practice violating
mutability, fail fast principle and real world bijections.


More Info

Fail Fast

Here is the full discussion on Setters


Photo by Victor Rodriguez on Unsplash

Object-oriented programming languages support encapsulation, thereby improving the ability of software to be reused, refined, tested, maintained, and extended. The full benefit of this support can only be realized if encapsulation is maximized during the design process.

Rebecca Wirfs-Brock

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