Saturday, November 3, 2007

Why Write About Beginning Java

After some careful consideration, I’ve decided to include “Beginning Java” entries in my blog. When I was in college, I noticed that academia seems to feel that it’s not worth writing anything that isn’t cutting edge. Working out in the “real world” afterward, I found plenty of people who act as though the glory in programming (if you can call it that) comes from knowing the rare and obscure hacks, compiler issues, and language features that separate the true alpha geeks from the wannabes.

Frankly, having written code since the second grade, gotten two degrees on the subject, and done it professionally for the last decade, I tend to be of the opinion that coding is what I do, not who I am. I also observed something else while getting my brown belt in Kempo: the thing that really separates the white belts from the black belts isn’t who can do the complicated stuff like tornado kicks, it’s how efficiently and consistently they can do the basics like blocking and punching.

So what makes it the basics interesting? For me it’s questioning why the things we call best practices actually are (or are not in some cases). It’s well and fine to document what a dynamic proxy is and why anyone would need one (and maybe I will someday) but I think it’s also important to periodically revisit the industry standards that everyone follows and ask, “are we doing what’s best or are we acting like lemmings?”

I love the fact that someone was willing to take a stand and declare that getters and setters are evil. Even if I didn’t agree (which is not the case as it turns out), it encourages programmers to stop and think critically. I don’t know if the things that I plan to write will turn out to be as profound or widely noticed, but in the spirit of, “when a developer stops thinking, he’s overpaid,” I intend to a post a few of my own back-to-basics blog entries.

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