TITLE: Thelonious Monk Teaches Software Design AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: February 25, 2013 4:07 PM DESC: ----- BODY:
Thelonious Monk at the piano
Thelonious Monk was a cool cat on the piano, but I think he could feel at home as a programmer. For example:
The _inside_ of the tune is the part that makes the _outside_ sound good.
Monk would understand that the design of your code matters as much as the design of your program's user interface. That is certainly true for developers who will have to maintain and modify the code over time. But it is also true for your program's users. It's hard for a program to be well designed on the outside, however pretty, when it is poorly designed on the inside.
Don't play _everything_ (or every time); let some things go by. Some music is just _imagined_. What you _don't_ play can be more important than what you _do_ play.
Some of the most effective software design happens in the negative space around software components. Alan Kay's original notions for designing objects stressed the messages that pass between objects more than the objects themselves. When we unfocus our eyes a bit and look at our system as a whole, the parts you don't design can come into focus.
a freehand rendition of the Japanese character 'ma'
And like Monk's missing notes, the code you don't write can be as important as the code you do, or more. The You Aren't Gonna Need It mindset tells us not to solve problems that don't exist yet. Live in the current spec. The result will be a minimal system, in terms of code size, with maximal effect.
You've got to dig it to _dig_ it, you dig?
A lot of people don't dig XP. But that's because they don't _dig_ it, you dig? Sometimes it takes surrendering old habits and thought processes all the way, pulling on a whole new way of approaching music or software, and letting it seep into your being for a while before you can really dig it. Some people begin skeptical but come to dig it after immersion. This is true for a lot of practices that seem unusual or awkward, not just XP. As Alan Kay is also fond of saying, "Don't dip your toe in the water. Get wet." ~~~~ The quotes above are from a document archived by Steve Lacy, by way of Lists of Note. PHOTO. Thelonious Monk, circa 1947 by William P. Gottlieb. Source: Wikipedia. -----