Wednesday, September 4, 2013

SOLID software design...

My hopeless backlog

One of the bad habits I have is accumulating lists of things to read. Google Reader used to be a handy place to categorize and keep my "subscriptions" to blogs and so forth to read. Unfortunately, Google pulled the plug on that service in July. Fortunately, another web service, theoldreader.com provided a very similar free service. In fact, their service was designed to look like an earlier version of Google Reader. Some time ago, Google removed some "social" aspects of Google Reader and the change irked some of their users. theoldreader.com sprung up to undo the perceived damage of Google's changes. When Google announced the planned demise of the Google Reader service, Google at least was kind enough to provide a mechanism for retrieving my list of subscriptions, so I opened a free account with theoldreader.com and submitted my subscription list. But so did a zillion other people, so it took literally weeks for the site to get around to processing my subscription list. In the fullness of time, they did get the subscriptions into their system and it seemed usable enough, but then their servers crumbled under the newly stepped up load. (Well, I think that the story is more like they made changes to beef up their servers and in making the changes someone tripped over a power cord or something). More days and days of noticeable downtime before things got back on the air and seemingly stable again.

My point in mentioning Blog subscriptions is that the universe conspires to generate "interesting" blog articles faster than I manage to read them. "Another day older and deeper in debt...". My backlog of unread blog articles is quite hopeless, but whenever I have nothing much to do, instead of turning on the boob-tube in the living room, I fire up theoldreader.com in my browser and try to read up on what I've been missing.

If you've got your own solution to tracking new blog articles, I hope my blog here is on your subscription list. If not, please take a moment to sign-up my blog onto your list. Go ahead and do it now. I'll wait for you to get back. (Full disclosure: No one has ever told me of positive or negative experiences from subscribing to my blog with their favorite RSS tool. I'm assuming that blogspot.com does the right thing, but if you run into a snag, I'd sure like to hear about it).

Emily's "Coding is Like Cooking" blog

One of the blogs that I do try to keep up with is from an expert on test-driven-development (TDD) named Emily Bache, an Englishwoman who now lives and works in Sweden. Her blog is called "Coding is Like Cooking". I like it because it tends to be quite well written and covers relatively recent software development topics that I might otherwise miss out on. i.e. Stuff that I didn't learn in school back in the days when Structured Programming was still somewhat controversial, and that I didn't pick up by osmosis in the later years of my employment at Bell Labs. I freely confess that Test-Driven-Development wasn't part of the quite informal methodology that "we" in Math Research were following. The mathematicians tended to find the underlying math of the problems far more interesting then the structure of the code. I also found myself unexposed to a great mentor for Object-Oriented-Programming. Java got some use in our projects, but I knew enough to recognize bad use of the language when I saw it. So, now I'm retired and still have much to learn. The web has no shortage of material for me to learn from and by reading Emily's articles and saying "Huh?" when something comes up that isn't at all familiar to me, I find lots of great stuff to learn.

One of my "Huh?" moments came from her mention of the "London School". I followed her link and picked up a book for my Amazon book Wish list: Growing Object-Oriented Software, Guided by Tests

SOLID Principles and TDD

So today I was reading an article of her's from September, 2012, SOLID principles and TDD. I didn't get very far into it when my brain complained "Huh? What does she mean by SOLID?". So I opened up another window thanks to a link she provided and read the Wikipedia article on SOLID. It isn't a particularly excellent Wikipedia article. It is dense with off-putting terminology - might be the fault of the SOLID acronym and not really the fault of the article - I've got to forgive the Wikipedia article because it has some excellent links to reference material.

Uncle Bob's principles of Object Oriented Design

One of the links from Wikipedia that I followed was http://butunclebob.com/ArticleS.UncleBob.PrinciplesOfOod. Still more links to clarify the mysterious-to-me parts of that SOLID acronym. This summary article looks especially good: http://www.objectmentor.com/resources/articles/Principles_and_Patterns.pdf.

And just to make sure I don't run out of things to read, there's a book mentioned and even recommended by another reader - Agile Software Development, Principles, Patterns, and Practices that I've added to my Amazon "Agile" book wish list to remind me I really need to take a look at it.

In closing...

So, my situation is quite hopeless if the goal is to finish reading the stuff on my list. If I'm reading anything interesting, it tends to add more things to my list. And that doesn't even count the time to actually try the tools and techniques that I'm reading about. I hope you found some of this material interesting enough to add to your own read-and-try list. I guess I have a bit of a sadistic streak to want to inflict my backlog on other folks.

Learned anything interesting lately?