Thursday, December 23, 2010

STUB 1: SICP & Assignment

Download now or watch on posterous (64778 KB)

A very brief sojourn through Abelson's and Sussman's landmark book: "Structure and Interpetation of Computer Programs".

Monday, December 20, 2010

Snow and Pandemonium

These pictures are from Heathrow on Monday morning, 20 December after a light dusting of snow paralyzed flights on Friday night and Saturday morning. Though most people were cheerful in a "what can you do about it" way; there was also anger, frustration, and tears of desperation as people struggled to gain some modicum of control over their fate.

I understand that there are times when events are beyond reasonable control. But this was just a little snow. I can even understand that Heathrow and the airlines had not planned properly for unexpected cold weather. What I can not understand is the breathtaking incompetence that has left thousands upon thousands of travelers without any kind of information.

The British Air website was inaccessible until earlier today. The phone lines were so jammed that when she got through on her 41st call, my daughter was actually told by an automated attendant that the hold time would be 594 minutes. (That's 10 hours). How has this once great airline fallen so far that they are reduced to having mumbling women, with bull-horns that don't work, walk through a crowd of people telling them that their best option is to somehow get to customer service desk (an obviously hopeless task). I think it may be time to consider reducing Heathrow and British-air to third-world status. I would expect this kind of treatment in Central America.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Clean Code Course in Dallas.

I'll be teaching a three-day Clean Code course in Dallas on the 15th-17th of February. Come one, come all!
You can sigh up here:

Thursday, December 16, 2010


italic bold monospaced.

This is two.  
Robert C. Martin (Uncle Bob) |
Uncle Bob Consulting LLC.    | @unclebobmartin
847.922.0563                 | web:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Too Lazy to "Type".

Loren Segal (@Islegal) in his blog ( makes the interesting point that most dynamic programs are, in fact, not particularly dynamic. Even duck-typed ruby programs would require very little change to make them static. He includes a Rack example showing this transformation.

class MyMiddleware
def call(app) ... end


class MyMiddleware
include Callable
def call(app) ... end

He asks, in the end: "how often do you write Ruby code that can really not have some kind of class based inheritance type system? For me, I can’t think of many cases. How often do you pass arbitrary types to methods without at least having a well-defined set of types that can be accepted by the method?"

He's quite correct that many (if not most) programs written in dynamic languages do not need to be dynamic. That with a very few simple changes we could add the hints that would make them static. And this would allow the compilers to optimize the programs in ways that are impossible for dynamic programs. However, there is a cost -- and the cost is not simply typing (and by that I mean keystrokes or LoC).

The cost is _dependencies_. The simple "include" in Segal's example above is a _coupling_. That coupling adds complexity to the design of the application. It might not seem that such a simple statement would be very confounding, but the problem is not one simple statement. The problem is that nearly all our classes would suddenly require instrumentation with appropriate includes or extends statements.
Even that might not seem all that bad, but the problem is that the requirements for interfaces change. We often want to add new methods to existing interfaces. When we do, we must add those methods to all classes that implement those interfaces, whether they need it or not. If some of our derivatives don't need those methods we might be tempted to split the interface into one that has the new methods, and one that does not; but that forces us to find all the classes that implement that interface and decide, in each case, which interface it should now derive from.

And of course interfaces depend on other interfaces which depend on other interfaces. And so the tangle grows. If you haven't been programming in a static language for awhile, it is easy to forget the complexities that these couplings lead to. But in the end, we like dynamic language not because we are too lazy to "Type". We like dynamic languages because we are tired of untangling couplings.

Robert C. Martin (Uncle Bob) |
Uncle Bob Consulting LLC. | @unclebobmartin
847.922.0563 | web: