I have not written a post for a while as I have been very busy working, developing Redline Smalltalk and looking after my twin boys. Recently I did get some free time and I needed a break from Redline Smalltalk and I picked up a book by Kent Beck from the top of my pile of books to be read. Yes there is a pile and there are about six books in it right now, there is even another Kent Beck book, which should not be a surprise to anyone as Kent is a great mind and his writing is worth your time.
The Kent Beck book I read was “Smalltalk Best Practice Patterns” and while you may think “what the! Isn’t this posts title about Ruby?” what I want to get across is that this book transcends a specific language and is applicable to any Object Oriented language and to anyone wanting to get a good grounding in “Best” practice and patterns of development. Having done Smalltalk, Ruby, Java and C++ I can see how each and every nugget can be applied. So regardless of your language choice you should choose to get this book.
So what does “Smalltalk Best Practice Patterns” have in it?
SBPP is a quick and easy read and it took me about 16 hours to finish it, but of course I am still thinking about the material in the book and how best to apply it. There are 92 specific items covered and a very good real world example and discussion of why. The real world, every day nature of the book makes it a must have, each section has the following elements:
- Preceding Patterns
- Following Patterns
The appendix having a reference to each point making it great to have near by. The book contains the following sections and topics:
- Development Example
- Appendix A: Quick Reference
Being a big fan of immutable Objects I especially enjoyed the section on “Getting Method”. If you only adopt one thing from this book I hope it is about private getting methods, sometimes called “getters” or “accessors”. It is hard to stress how much better a large amount of software would be if it adopted this practice. This is how Kent puts it:
“Here’s the real secret of writing good Getting Methods - make them private at first. I cannot stress this enough.” and goes on to say “There are cases where you will publish the existence of Getting Methods for use in the outside world. You should make a conscious decision to do this after considering all the alternatives. It is preferable to give an object more responsibility, rather than have it act like a data structure.”
One comment from a reader, Kyle Brown is “The patterns in this book are absolutely fundamental to good Smalltalk programming. No one who calls himself a Smalltalk programmer should be without the knowledge in this book” and I would go so far as to say that no one who calls themselves an Object Oriented developer should be without the knowledge in this book.