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Software Craftsmanship: Who are your influences?

 
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Hi Sandro,

I have had Pete McBreen's "Software Craftsmanship" book on my book shelf for a long time and it has been a big factor in my growth as a software developer. When I saw the title of your book, I immediately thought about Uncle Bob's 8th Light, his Professionalism and TDD essay, and of course, Pete McBreen's book.

Obviously, Uncle Bob is a big influence of yours, I suppose. Who else has been influential in your career to make you a believer and proponent for software craftsmanship?

(Other ranchers are welcome to share their answers, too)
 
Junilu Lacar
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Sandro,

I just read through the section about "Software Craftsmanship History" and I guess this answers my question about your influences. This is pretty much the same group of authors that has influenced me in my growth. Jack Reeves and his essays about Code as Design had a really big impact on my way of thinking about code and design and it's one of the things I mention in a TDD workshop that I give to engineers at work.

I have mentioned this elsewhere in these forums but my study of Aikido has also been a great influence. The philosophy behind Aikido, that of resolving conflict and non-resistance, going with the flow, being sensitive and aware of your surroundings, etc. has helped me see many parallels in the work I do in software development. I watched "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" recently and mentioned it to another one of our guest authors (https://coderanch.com/t/643489/patterns/Perfection-enemy-Good-quote-book) in the context of perfection and the Japanese idea of what it takes to be a shokunin, which I guess roughly translates to "craftsman."

Have you been influenced by anyone from outside the field of software development?
 
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There are a few people that had a big influence in my career. The first was Eduardo Namur, a mentor I had in the early days in my career. I wrote about him at the beginning of the book. After him, I had a few other colleagues in other companies that were also quite "obsessed" with the quality of their work. Purely in terms of Craftsmanship, Uncle Bob and McBreen were the biggest inspirations. I was also quite inspired by the work of Martin Fowler, Kent Beck, Ron Jeffreys, the Gang of Four (Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson, John Vlissidesand), Eric Evans, and Craig Larman. Most recently, Steve Freeman and Nat Pryce also caused an impact on how I write code.
 
Junilu Lacar
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Same here -- I constantly cite the GOOS book. I notice you had a quote from Tom Gilb in one part of the book. Early on in my career, back in the days when Structured Analysis and Design was still the norm, I had a copy of Tom's blue and yellow book, "Principles of Software Engineering Management." I read through that book so many times it was dog-eared and ragged. I think some of the ideas he had in that book were a bellwether for the more agile things to come in a decade or so. Unfortunately, I no longer have my copy of that book and I can't cite specific passages for you.
 
Junilu Lacar
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You know what, I lied. I went down to the basement to rifle through a stack of old books and there it was, the old yellow and blue book by Tom Gilb. Here's one quote that is very Agile-esque:

Tom Gilb wrote:
The fluid attribute-level principle:
Don't ever try to freeze exact attribute requirements. You must expect changes by the user during development, and because of the uncontrolled side-effects of your real system.


And in the chapter on "Deeper perspectives on evolutionary delivery":


We can decide that an evolutionary step is a failure and we can revert to the status immediately previous to that step. But, we cannot eliminate the user and developer experience in the failed step. Indeed, we want to learn from the mistake and change the future for the better.


Shades of the thinking that TDDers have, right?

He even cites the work of Christopher Alexander and his group in "The Oregon Experiment," regarding architecture and patterns. Of course, we all know Alexander was very influential in the work of the GoF on design patterns.

I don't know if many up and coming software developers today have even heard of Tom Gilb, much less some of his ideas that were, I believe, very influential in getting us to where we are today.

Good stuff.
 
Sandro Mancuso
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Hi Junilu,

I know Tom quite well. We met many times over the years in many conferences and spent a lot of time talking to each other.

He is considered the grand-father of Agile. His work in the 70s was way ahead of its time, when he was talking about evolutionary project management (EVO).

It's a shame that I only came across his work quite later on in my career.

Sandro
 
Junilu Lacar
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I think that's what so great about the Agile community. We have all these luminaries and pioneers of the field still walking amongst us and we get to rub elbows and talk to them like they're regular people which of course, they are, even though in another way, they are anything but "regular."

I have met Uncle Bob at a couple of conferences, first time at Agile 2008 in Toronto when he first started giving out his green "Clean Code" wristbands. I still have one of those that I wear most days. I met him again at the COHAA (Central OHio Agile Association) Path to Agility conference here in Columbus OH a couple of years ago. I went up to him to show him a bunch of knockoff green bands I had made for participants in my TDD workshop and he got a chuckle from seeing that. I also met up face-to-face with Ranch Sheriffs and authors Lasse Koskela and Ilja Preuss.

Diana Larsen still remembers me when I see her at conferences. I attended one of her and Esther Derby's workshops in Oregon a number of years ago. Esther might still recognize me. Lisa Adkins still remembered me from her Agile Coaching workshop when I saw her and Michael Spade at Agile 2013 in Nashville. I also got to shake hands with Tim Lister (Peopleware) after his keynote and we had a quick chat about the old days and the old "crew" of authors and authorities in the field. Tom Gilb was also mentioned, of course.

I got to attend a couple of the SPLASH conferences (formerly OOPSLA) as a panelist and there I met Jim Coplien and Tryvge Reenskaug, father of the MVC pattern, among others. Also got to talk a bit to Rebecca Wirfs-Brock about Technical Debt.

Of course, most of these folks do not know me by name, except maybe Diana Larsen. For some reason, she has managed to remembered my name every time I see her, which is flattering and impressive at the same time.

And of course, here at CodeRanch, you get to rub virtual elbows with all kinds of authors of great books, such as yourself and many of our esteemed moderators. I hope we get a chance to meet up someday at an Agile conference somewhere.

Best regards
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