The Truth About Design Patterns

  1. Design patterns are a response to solving the entanglement nightmare that OOD, while not creating, made more complex.
  2. While the formalization of the patterns was in some ways useful, the implementation often results in over-complexity and misapplication, especially by inexperienced programmers.
  3. Experienced programmers were already implementing decent ways to disentangle non-OO and OO code, so really, I think very little was gained by formalizing patterns. If anything, it made things worse for experienced developers who had to go in and fix the insanity of bad pattern application by less experienced developers.

And apparently (and sad to say), there is much agreement in the community regarding points 2 & 3.

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How to Write Good Code

This is not a long tome on software architecture.  This is simply about how do to write good code.

Code consists of functions, and this is what a function should look like (using C# style as an example):

// A comment describing why the function exists
void WhatTheFunctionDoes()
  ... how the function does what it says it does.

That’s it! If you follow the “why-what-how” approach, the quality of your code will start to improve!

Here’s a real life example:

/// <summary>
/// The user can get an instance of a service implementing 
/// the specified interface, but only if the service is 
/// registered as supporting instance creation.
/// </summary>
public virtual T GetInstance<T>()
  where T : IService
  IService instance = CreateInstance<T>();

  return (T)instance;
  1. The “why” is clear — we’re supporting a need the programmer will have for creating service instances.
  2. The “what” is clear — the function returns an instance of the specified generic type T.
  3. The “how” is clear — there are four function calls that describe how this function works.

Here’s a simple guideline for figuring out when to break a function apart into smaller functions:  If your function has “how” fragments that ought to have “how”, “what” or “why” comments, then this is great indicator that you should move those fragment into separate functions so that the function name describes “what” and then write a “why” comment for the function.

In other words, when you could write a comment in the body of the code that answers one of those questions, you need to move that code into a function that answers the “what”.  Recurse that process until the function clearly describes “how”, then for each function you created, write an intelligent “why” comment.

Now go forth and code better!

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Three Blind Programmers

Three blind programmers. Three blind programmers.
See how they code. See how they code.
They all went over the waterfall,
They scrambled and scrum’ed
But they weren’t agile enough,
And they drowned in soggy kanban post-its.
Did you ever see such a sight in your life,
As three blind programmers?

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The Programmer’s Oath Revised

Recently Robert C. Martin posted The Programmer’s Oath, to which I came up with my own version and posted on the Code Project.  It seems I hit a nerve–I don’t usually get so many up-votes for a post.  Here’s my version (slightly less harsh than my original post!)

  1. I will work not work with Ruby or other duck-typed, runtime-typed, or “script kiddie” languages (the exception being Javascript because there just isn’t an alternative–yes, typescript, etc., but still, you end up debugging Javascript.)
  2. I will not work with people that work with #1.
  3. I will code when my brain feels like coding, I will not code on YOUR time frame.  I will however work as much as it takes to ensure that agreed upon deadlines are met.
  4. I will not work in a cubicle.
  5. I will not put up with sh***y equipment and stupid management decisions.
  6. I will write code that is maintainable, extensible, commented, and documented, no matter what management says.
  7. I will spend time testing my code, but YOU damn well better have a people, resources, and the commitment to test my code independent of me.
  8. I will write code using my own well thought out architecture, not some fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants Agile methodology bullsh*t.
  9. I will not waste my valuable time learning some half-ass open source latest rage just because every other idiot says it’s the latest rage.
  10. I will always make time to work on my own stuff because frankly, it’s usually more interesting (but not always!) than the project I’m working on that actually pays the bills.

Given the number of up-votes, I think this speaks volumes to the issues developers are constantly dealing with and to the perceived problems with software development, the burgeoning of open-source frameworks, and the constant issues with management and work environment.


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Web Servers Succinctly e-book is now available!

Download it from Syncfusion!

“The concept of a “web server” has become fuzzy because the server is now entwined with the dynamic requirements of web applications. Handling a request is no longer the simple process of “send back the content of this file,” but instead involves routing the request to the web application, which, among other things, determines where the content comes from. In Web Servers Succinctly, author Marc Clifton provides great insights on the benefits of building your own web server, and covers different options available for threading, work processes, session management, routing, and security.”

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Is this how we want to teach our children?






This picture, from an article on the Washington Post, “Delaying kindergarten until age 7 offers key benefits to kids — study”, is in my opinion an appalling example of the horrors of technology in early childhood.  This poor child’s posture, her grip on a magic marker, the completely artificial graphics, the oversized headphones blocking out the real world, all of this speaks to the antithesis of how young children should be taught.

As a contrast, compare this scene from a Waldorf Kindergarten, where children are interacting, doing an artistic project, and the entire environment is filled with warm, natural, materials:







Need I say more?

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Parable of the Sower

“That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.” (Matthew 13, NIV)

My partner, for her expressive arts project in relationship to her course work “Introduction to Family Therapy”, drew three beautiful pieces based on the parable of the sower, as a metaphor of the “soil” that we grow up in.

Here are the three drawings, which she did with water-based colored pencils:


Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.










Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.












Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

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