Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Isn't it just possible?

Here's a line that rang a bell with me:

Isn't it just possible that my inability to profit from OOP reflects a problem with OOP itself and not my own incompetence? - "Objects Never? Well, Hardly Ever!" by Mordechai Ben-Ari, Communications of the ACM, September 2010

I am not alone!

Here's another excerpt...
I am not the only one whose intuition fails when it comes to OOP. ... Again, isn't it just possible that the intuition of experienced software engineers is perfectly OK, and that it is OOP that is not intuitive and frequently even artificial?
To put those quotes in context, here are first two paragraphs from the article:
At the 2005 SIGCSE (Special Interest Group in Computer Science Education) Symposium in St. Louis, MO, a packed audience listened to the Great Objects Debate: Should we teach "objects first" or "objects later"?1 In the objects-first approach, novices are taught object-oriented programming (OOP) in their initial introduction to programming, as opposed to an objects-later approach, where novices are first introduced to procedural programming, leaving OOP to the end of the first semester or the end of the first year. Kim Bruce and Michael K├Âlling spoke in favor of the objects-first approach, while their opponents Stuart Reges and Eliot Koffman argued for teaching procedural programming first. One of Bruce's arguments was: since OOP is dominant in the world of software development, it should be taught early. I later contacted Bruce to ask for a warrant for the dominance of OOP, but he could not give me one, nor could any of several other experts to whom I posed the same question.

I claim that the use of OOP is not as prevalent as most people believe, that it is not as successful as its proponents claim, and, therefore, that its central place in the CS curriculum is not justified.
The full text of the article is behind a "Pay Wall" so you have join the Association for Computing Machinery or cough up some $$ to read it.

Speaking of which, I've been a member since Before Time Began (1973) and it is only recently (the past few years) when the ACM's flagship magazine "Communications" has been worth reading for practitioners of The Dark Arts (you know, programmers).

Now, it's well worth the expense. Not a single issue goes by that doesn't provoke at least one "Aha!" moment.

Aha! The Programmer's New Paradigm!

This is not an excerpt from the article, this is what the article provoked in me:
A Programmer who cares for nothing but the elegance of his code hires two consultants who promise him the finest programming paradigm whose benefits are invisible to anyone who is unfit for his position or "just hopelessly stupid". The Programmer cannot see the benefits himself, but pretends that he can for fear of appearing unfit for his position or stupid; his colleagues do the same. When the consultants report that the paradigm is ready, they show him how it works and the Programmer starts developing applications with it. A young intern on the team calls out that the paradigm has no benefits at all and the cry is taken up by others. The Programmer cringes, suspecting the assertion is true, but holds himself up proudly and continues along the same path. - with apologies to Hans Christian Andersen

One more excerpt, not from me, not from the article, but from a comment on the article...
"... in a design oriented field such as ours, fads are all to easy to hatch. It takes considerable will to resist fads and stay focused on the real issues." — Alan Kay, September 11, 2010

Who's Alan Kay, you ask?

Oh, nobody important, just some random guy on the internet :)

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