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Book: Implementations Patterns

In Implementations Patterns, Kent Beck focuses on « low level » advices. It’s all about how to write nice, readable and maintainable code.

Such a narrow focus is good and provides a nice occasion to think on one own’s habits.The extensive thinking put down in the book quite often put words on feelings/intuitions one can have while coding. It makes them explicit/obvious and helps to think more rationally about them. It also put new light on different aspects, widening the comprehension.

The chapter « Theory of Programming » is also pretty nice, esp. when addressing flexibility. Indeed, flexibility is about being able to change easily the code, not providing the user with hooks all over the place to change everything in the software. Insisting on code readability is also always welcomed and well put in perspective. It somehow managed to feel more convincing than previous readings I had on the topic.

Yet it isn’t all nice in Implementations Patterns. The term pattern feels often overstretched. Kent Beck is mainly just browsing through the available options in Java and discussing their pro and cons. Sometimes it feels obvious and a bit overdone.

The chapter on collection performance feels also a bit like « space filling » rather than helping achieving the book goal. A nasty voice inside of me can’t help noticing that for a 129pages yet 45$ book, it’s comprehensible…

A point has also really surprised me: Kent Beck speaks of final fields and says he usually doesn’t bother writing the final keyword. He would only if his code would be changed by many people. Not only it’s contradict his main motto of communication to the readers, but it’s actually a big hole in the class, both in terms of performance and maintenance… Crazy it managed to go through the editing process IMHO.

To conclude, the book is helpful and hopefully my coworkers will appreciate its effects on my code. I’ve more tools/knowledge/options to write readable code, I just have to make good use of them by now… Is it a must read ? Dunno. Maybe I start to have read quite a bunch of such books to have a feeling of « deja vu ». Surely as well I’m getting older. Anyway, it was a good read, I recommend it. Whether it’s a must read is left to the reader as an exercise 😉

Side note: for a deeper look at the book content, there’s this infoq review Book Review: Implementation Patterns which shows it well.

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