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In this particular situation, I would be much quicker to go for copy/pasted code than spaghetti code.

I worked at a place where we had to interact with financial exchanges, which nominally talk standard protocols but actually all have their own quirks in their implementations of the protocols, which we had to account for on our own end. They ended up going with the copy/paste approach, and, while I was initially horrified, I came to realize that they're right.

The admonishment against copy/paste is meant to deal with the risk of accidentally forgetting to update one of the copies when there's a new change that needs to be pushed across all of them. It turns out that, for the problem domain we were working in, which sounds quite similar to the one TFI describes, that never happens. Even when the standards body releases a new version of the protocol, each vendor upgrades on their own schedule, and the slowest-moving vendor might stick on the old version for 5 or even 10 years, and when they finally do get around to it, their implementation of that feature will have its own quirks, so just setting a flag saying, "Vendor X is now on version Y" wasn't going to work, anyway. So then you (hypothetically) create a set of flags saying, "Vendor X is using version Y, but with these behaviors that differ from everyone else's version of Y", add a bunch of new if-statements, and the actual logic that might execute at run-time gets even more obfuscated behind a tangle of counterfactual configurations that won't happen in real life but still exist in the code and are supported in the application.

So, to sum up: nominally the same protocol, but everyone does it differently, and upgrades on their own schedule. It really is a horrendous tangle. Dealing with that mess by mirroring it in your code with an equally tangled pile of flags and conditionals is also going to be a mess, no matter how you choose to organize the code.

Don't do that. Alexander the Great was right: Sometimes the best way to deal with these sorts of things is by cutting them into pieces. Then, when you're dealing with one implementation's quirks, you only have to be thinking about that one set of quirks, and not the combinatorial explosion of possible interactions that you get when you try to mix them all together.




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