Category Archives: Week-14

Breakable Toys

This week I looked at the pattern “Breakable Toys”. According to this pattern you have to fail at least as much as you succeed. The problem with the workplace is that failure is not supposed to happen, so if you want to learn you have to do it on your own time. You can do this by building smaller projects that are similar to what you have to do and work on them knowing that it is okay if something goes wrong. A personal wiki is a good example of a breakable toy that can teach you a lot. Even Linux was created as a breakable toy.

I like this pattern because it reinforces the idea that failure is okay. I initially disagreed with the premise that the workplace does not allow failure. Many people will fail at work and that is okay, especially if you are new in a certain field. After thinking about it I came to agree more with the author. While failure in the workplace happens, it is tolerated not encouraged. It is okay to make mistakes but you do not want to make mistakes all the time. If you are working with a breakable toy in your own time you can have catastrophic failures with nothing on the line but your own time and sanity.

This is a pattern I should try to fit into my own life. My friend David, who is also in this course, is always making some kind of breakable toy and it is really admirable. He has been doing it for years though so I should not expect to be on his level just yet. He’s even making his own programming language right now which is something I can’t even imagine myself doing.

Making breakable toys is definitely the way forward for me to improve my programming skills. More than anything I need to write more code. I need to learn more and be forced to solve more problems. Even though I have been in the CS program for three years, I do not feel I have written very much code – especially code from scratch. Most things are 80% done by the time they are assigned to me; I just put the finishing touches.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Half-Cooked Coding by alexmle1999 and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Dig Deeper: Depth not Breadth

Photo by Laura Stanley on Pexels.com

Learning things is difficult much of the time, and when being pressured to learn something (or even multiple things at a time) for some impending deadline or project responsibility, it can feel like there just isn’t enough time to warrant building a truly deep understanding during that period. The more items on the todo-list, the less time then is able to be spent on each item, leaving a very shallow understanding which is simply good enough to satisfy the given problem or context exactly.

The idea of learning in a shallow sense versus learning deeply is discussed in chapter 6 of Apprenticeship Patterns. Dig Deeper refers to the idea of making an effort to learn about tools, languages, or other areas of study to more than just the necessary degree to complete the current project. The authors argue that to always remain focused on finding a solution, rather than learning about why that solution works can make the overall understanding of the subject relatively shallow. Focusing solely on “your part” of the project can leave you lacking in comprehension regarding everything else, and so it is beneficial to look into relevant context, supporting ideas which build the foundations of the solution to the problem, and the documentation associated with the solution. The idea is to focus on depth of understanding, rather than breadth of topics covered.

In practice this seems difficult to implement one-hundred percent of the time, as time constraints will likely impede any efforts to understand everything in a way which is absolutely comprehensive. But for important ideas, subjects which will likely form integral, foundational aspects of a program or project, it makes sense to learn as much as possible about them so that if something goes wrong, you will have the knowledge to fix it. Choosing which topics to use this sort of approach for is a judgement call which should most likely rely heavily on context (as with most of the patterns discussed in this book).

While I wouldn’t necessarily want to use this approach all the time, I can definitely see the benefit of learning about the context and deeper ideas associated with topics such as new programming languages, database management, or frameworks like the .NET framework, which is associated with Windows-based development. Topics which are especially interesting in this regard (in my opinion) are game development and GUI frameworks, where there are often a large array of interconnecting components, panels, windows and tools associated. Learning the tools becomes almost like learning another language within the language itself.

Book referenced:

Apprenticeship Patterns: Guidance for the Aspiring Software Craftsman

https://learning.oreilly.com/library/view/Apprenticeship+Patterns/9780596806842/ch06s04.html

From the blog CS@Worcester – CodeRoad by toomeymatt1515 and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Apprenticeship Patterns – Stay in the Trenches

The problem in this pattern is an extremely simple one; you are a programmer at a company and you are offered a promotion that will take you away from programming. The provided solution is basically to just stay in programming despite the opportunity.

I would say I mostly agree with this pattern. This reminds me of Star Trek Beyond (2016) where spoilers, Kirk is offered a promotion to, what I believe is, Admiral which would mean he would no longer fly. After a long adventure, both him and Spock realize that where they belong is on the Enterprise together with the crew. So Kirk turns down the promotion. I think this situation – in a very decent film that most people seem to overlook – is a great match for this design pattern. The motivations are only partly the same, however. In the film, Kirk chooses the Enterprise because he is driven to explore. This design pattern, however, cares primarily about your future career and skills.

There is obviously an implication that the software craftsman enjoys programming, but the main reason they give for turning down the promotion seems to be that you need as much software experience as possible. If your career goal is to be in software, then being in a higher level position at some company you’ll probably leave in a few years doesn’t help you as much as being in programming. There are also potentially alternatives to a promotion that still accrue you the benefits you’ve earned.

Overall, I would say I’m in agreement with this pattern. You need to focus on your long term goals. In this scenario, that is most likely to become a good programmer. That said, its up to you to gauge the opportunity in front of you and determine whether or not it matches your goals. Perhaps the company you are at is a solid position with little fear of losing the job. Then, maybe you should take the promotion and simply keep climbing up. Its okay to change your plan in the face of new opportunities. The key is that you’re thinking rationally and properly about the situation at hand. After all, its your future.

From the blog CS@Worcester – The Introspective Thinker by David MacDonald and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Apprenticeship Patterns – Craft over Art

The problem of this pattern is a very common situation; virtually any time you are building something for a client. You are tasked with producing something that will solve the client’s problem. While you could follow a basic, common method, you also could explore new solutions and build something more custom. The pattern then determines that the solution to this problem is to rely on the tried and tested method. The justification is that your job is to create something functional and you must prioritize that over all else.

I’m not sure how I feel about the proposed solution to this. I would say I overall disagree. Firstly, just because you’re trying something new doesn’t mean its entirely original. There are varying degrees to which you could try something new. So I disagree with the absolutism of the statement. Next, I don’t think that taking the time to create something new is entirely selfish. Just because you could hack together something functional quickly and deliver it to the client doesn’t mean that they won’t have a successful, or even better product from you creating something original. In fact, I think in a sense it shows how much you care for the client. Rather than giving them something cookie cutter, you chose to think specifically about their problem rather than force it to match some other problem. When it comes to coding, that practice might significantly aid performance, for example. Cookie cutter solutions to intensely computational problems can’t be as efficient as specified unique solutions.

Lastly, not all developers have the time to create original content in their free time. If developers spend all of their time copy pasting the same projects, how will the industry as a whole ever advance? So once again, it isn’t just about advancing your own individual skills. I feel there is a disconnect with this pattern. The author seems to be referring specifically to artifying the job, but their descriptions are much more vague than that and can encompass less “negative” practices. When it comes to treating every job like a unique art piece, I’d generally be against that since I don’t think it is a good business model. However, it depends mostly on what the client wants. Perhaps the client wants that level of connection with the craftsman.

From the blog CS@Worcester – The Introspective Thinker by David MacDonald and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Confront Your Ignorance: Filling in the Gaps

Photo by Ann H on Pexels.com

Software development often involves a large variety of interconnected tools, patterns, standards and ideas which must be understood at a functional level to be able successfully apply them to the project at hand. Sometimes the sheer number of things which require your understanding can feel overwhelming, and going into a project without knowing absolutely everything you might need to know often leads to stress regarding the gaps in knowledge versus what is required.

The pattern discussed in chapter 2 of Apprenticeship Patterns, (link: https://learning.oreilly.com/library/view/Apprenticeship+Patterns/9780596806842/ch02s06.html) discusses the idea of confronting your ignorance, by which the authors mean that you should seek out and eliminate any holes or gaps in your knowledge, rather than allowing the “ignorance” to be a detriment to yourself. More specifically, the pattern describes the process of picking one skill, language or technology to focus on at a time, and working to better your understanding of that one idea. Rather than trying to focus on everything at once, you focus on learning one skill at a time, generating a more “precise” understanding of it than if it were being lumped together with other subjects.

This idea makes a lot of sense, intuitively you might think it would be second nature to begin learning a new topic by focusing only on that topic instead of trying to do everything all at the same time, but often that is exactly what ends up happening. Whenever there is a larger “stack” of tools to learn, I sometimes find myself actively trying to absorb everything all at once, because I feel that maybe slowing down and taking each single tool or topic on by itself might slow things down too much. This hesitance not to “multitask” when learning new ideas makes it harder to really focus on any one thing when trying to become familiar with a large number of tools and ideas in a short timeframe.

Overall the major ideas of Confront Your Ignorance are simple, and easy to implement , the big drawback being the time it will likely take to focus exclusively on one topic can often take time away from other activities. Like most patterns discussed in Apprenticeship Patterns, finding an effective balance between this pattern and others is important and likely dependent on context most of the time.

Book Referenced:

Apprenticeship Patterns: Guidance for the Aspiring Software Craftsman

https://learning.oreilly.com/library/view/Apprenticeship+Patterns/9780596806842/ch02s06.html

From the blog CS@Worcester – CodeRoad by toomeymatt1515 and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Apprenticeship Patterns: Dig Deeper

Another issue I have been facing as of late is related to my understanding of the systems and software that I use. I often find that I am able to learn just enough to meet the requirements for my assignment, but lack perspective of exactly what is going on behind the scenes. One class in particular that this was true for would be data structures, which was quite challenging considering I had no experience with any facet of it before then. This resulted in me learning exactly what I needed, nothing more or less, to succeed. Upon reflection of this class, I decided to choose the Dig Deeper pattern to discuss this week.


The first major tip given is one that I have often encountered in other patterns, being to break a problem down to its most abse form. As stated in the pattern, most programming issues can be broken down to an incorrect algorithm. Once the problem is broken down, you can examine each part of the problem in great detail, giving you a more in-depth understanding of both the problem and the tools used to solve it. Furthermore, the pattern states that you should focus on reading as much original documentation as possible since many articles may lose some information in translation. As for retaining knowledge, once again breakable tools are referenced, which I have discussed further in a previous post. Any new understanding can be represented in the form of a fun hobby program or blog post. Throughout the process of reading these patterns I have realized how interconnected they are, often relying on each other to result in well rounded software design principles.

One thing to note is that it does feel a bit strange to try and relate to these patterns, particularly because they are very clearly written for someone currently in the workforce in a software development position in mind. Regardless they still have some knowledge that will likely benefit developers at a variety of levels. This perspective being less relevant to me is my only real complaint, other than this I have found these patterns quite helpful! This will be my last post for the time being, but after everything I have ready I may have to return to this blog later on. Thank you for reading and, as always, if you want to read this yourself it will be linked below!

Source

https://www.oreilly.com/library/view/apprenticeship-patterns/9780596806842/ch06s04.html

From the blog CS@Worcester – My Bizarre Coding Adventures by Michael Mendes and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

What is AngularJS?

In the Software Constr. class, I was presented for the first time with the angularjs front-end web framework. AngularJS is a structural framework for dynamic web apps. It lets you use HTML as your template language and lets you extend HTML’s syntax to express your application’s components clearly and succinctly. AngularJS’s data binding and dependency injection eliminate much of the code you would otherwise have to write. And it all happens within the browser, making it an ideal partner with any server technology.

I had the chance to work a little with this framework and I understand some part of it how it works. Angular has the following key features which makes it one of the powerful frameworks in the market.

 MVC – The framework is built on the famous concept of MVC (Model-View-Controller). This pattern is based on splitting the business logic layer, the data layer, and presentation layer into separate sections. The division into different sections is done so that each one could be managed more easily.

Data Model Binding – You do not need to write special code to bind data to the HTML controls. This can be done by Angular by just adding a few snippets of code.

Writing less code – When carrying out DOM manipulation a lot of JavaScript was required to be written to design any application. But with Angular, you will be amazed with the lesser amount of code you need to write for DOM manipulation.

Unit Testing ready – The designers at Google not only developed Angular but also developed a testing framework called “Karma” which helps in designing unit tests for AngularJS applications.

There are some advantages for this framework.

Since it is an open-source framework, you can expect the number of errors or issues to be minimal.

Two-way binding – Angular.js keeps the data and presentation layer in sync. You do not need to write additional JavaScript code to keep the data in your HTML code and your data later in sync. Angular.js will automatically do this for you.

Angular can take care of routing which means moving from one view to another. This is the key fundamental of single page applications; wherein you can move to different functionalities in your web application based on user interaction but still stay on the same page.

It extends HTML by providing its own elements called directives.  So why Angular? While AngularJS does not suit every project idea, it builds amazing apps. The most valuable reasons of AngularJS usefulness lie in their concepts and benefits that they provide. Nowadays with all marketing strategies and technologies to find a worth product has become a real challenge. Besides, it is easy to lose yourselves among all those benefits that are listed by every product. And it is even harder to find those ones you really need and that really suits your idea.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Tech, Guaranteed by mshkurti and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

What is the difference between a software framework and a software architecture?

Software frameworks are reusable “semi-finished” software for domains (such as ERP, computing, etc.) that implement common parts of the domain and provide well-defined points of variability to ensure flexibility and extensibility. In other words, the software framework is the softwarenation of the results of domain analysis and the template for the final application in the domain.

With the expansion of software scale, wide application and the development of software reuse technology, the software reuse based on subroutine and class has a lot of shortcomings:

(1) The library of the subroutine is becoming more and more huge, which makes it difficult for its users to master

(2) Most classes are too small to do all the useful work by themselves

It is for these reasons that a set of classes (modules) are considered as a whole in reuse, resulting in a software framework. The software framework contains at least the following components:

(1) A series of modules to complete the calculation become components

(2) The relationship between components and the interaction mechanism

(3) A series of variable points (hot spots, or adjustment points)

(4) Behavior adjustment mechanism of variable point

Developers through the software framework behavior adjustment mechanism, peculiar to the general application domain software module bound to the variable point of a software framework, and got the final application system, this process is called software example of a software framework, the existence of software framework allows developers will be the main energy on the development system of the module, so as to improve software productivity and quality.

The behavior adjustment mechanism of the software framework refers to how to adjust the variable part of the framework for the specific application and how to add the method and rules of the specific application module at the variable point.

Ii. Software architecture

Software architecture is a sketch of a system. The objects described by software architecture are abstract components that directly constitute the system. The wires between the components describe the communication between the components explicitly and in relative detail.

Software architecture, by definition, is divided into two camps of ‘constituent’ and ‘decision-maker’, which are described as follows:

The componentized view of software architecture is that the system is described as computing components and their interactions. It has two very obvious characteristics:

Focus on the object of architectural practice — software, with the software itself as the object of description.

This paper analyzes the composition of the software, and shows that the software is not a whole in the sense of “atom”, but a whole composed of different parts connected through a specific interface, which is very important for software development.

Decision-makers believe that software architecture involves a series of decisions, mainly including:

Organization of software systems

Choose the structural elements that make up the system, the interfaces between them, and the behavior that these elements exhibit when they cooperate with each other

How do you combine these elements so that they gradually synthesize into larger subsystems?

The architectural style used to guide the organization of the system: these elements and their interfaces, collaborations, and combinations

Software architecture is concerned not only with the structure and behavior of the software itself, but also with other features: usage, functionality, performance, elasticity, reuse, understandability, economy, and technical constraints and trade-offs.

Personal understanding: When software engineering has a certain scale, software development does not exist in the form of data structure + algorithm, but “divide and conquer” software based on many factors such as technical choices and user needs. The main task of the architect is to divide the software into different modules and define the interfaces between modules.

Sources:

https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/229415/difference-between-an-architecture-and-a-framework#:~:text=An%20architecture%20is%20the%20the,that’s%20designed%20to%20be%20extended.&text=Frameworks%20are%20specifically%20designed%20to%20be%20built%20on%20or%20extended.

From the blog haorusong by and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself)

https://thevaluable.dev/dry-principle-cost-benefit-example/

I’ve chosen to talk about a very simple design principle this week called “Don’t Repeat Yourself”, DRY for short. It’s a topic that is covered in this class according to the syllabus and I chose it since its similar to another topic I covered YAGNI in that they’re easy to understand design principles. The meaning is quite self-explanatory, don’t repeat code since if you need to change the behavior of a certain project, you’d have to rewrite numerous lines of code if DRY wasn’t applied. However, applying this principle to everything isn’t efficient either. Trying to apply DRY everywhere causes unnecessary coupling and complexity which also leads to more difficulty changing behavior. According to the link above, using DRY means emphasizes knowledge above all else. What it means by that is that when designing and constructing software, one should have the knowledge of when to apply DRY and when not to for the sake of the readability and efficiency of the code.

In that context, DRY reminds me of the importance of resources in a computer when running something. If you want something run faster, you’ll have to sacrifice more memory. And when you want something to have more memory, you’ll have to sacrifice more speed. Both are valid choices; it really depends on the needs of the software and the user. Say for example, I want to create a program that lists all numbers from one to 100 which I do by writing out a thousand lines of code in which each prints a number. However, if I implement DRY, then I could create an integer variable r and a loop which prints the value of that variable and increments it by one until r equals 100. But the case where I want to alter the behavior to list every odd number between one and 100 is where thing get a bit interesting. In the DRYless scenario, I can simply delete the lines of code that print even numbers. Yet in the scenario with DRY, I’d have to add a condition that skips printing variable r for that iteration of the loop. You have to sacrifice complexity for readability and vice versa. Though the choice is ultimately up to what works best in the current situation. Like in my example, the added complexity from DRY doesn’t really harm the readability, in fact it improves it in some ways, at least in my opinion.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Rainiery's Blog by rainiery and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.

Design Patterns

Earlier this semester, we worked on an assignment regarding design patterns. I found this interesting as I took a deep dive into learning more about facades. As I’ve gotten deeper into the computer science program, assignments and projects have naturally gotten bigger and bigger. I was excited to learn more about facades, because it relies on two aspects important to large scale projects: simplicity, and restriction. It can make complex projects a bit easier to follow, as well as limiting what a client has access to.

While I learned a lot about facades through this assignment, I felt that I didn’t personally study enough about the other gang of four design patterns. To familiarize myself further that what I learned in class, I listened to episode 34 of the “complete developer podcast”, focused on design patterns. It wasn’t a thorough as I would have liked, but I was able to familiarize myself a bit more on behavioral and creational design patterns. Having studied facades closer, I was already a bit familiar with structural patterns. From their explanation, these 3 types of design patterns have a lot of cross over but tend to be categorized separately primarily for human understanding. I would have liked if they discussed some actual pattens within the creational, structural, and behavioral categories, such as certain ones they use more often than others.

One key takeaway I had with this podcast is how universal these object-oriented design patterns are. One of the hosts was appreciatively saying how he’s a .net developer but could talk to a Java or Ruby developer about any of these design patterns. They may not be familiar with the language, but they would be able to follow the structure of the code. The patterns themselves aren’t that complicated, but they’re capable of facilitating much more complicated programs. I also thought it was interesting, they referenced how some languages don’t need these patterns depending on the level of abstraction built into it.

I found their criticisms of design patterns to be the most useful to me. The hosts discussed certain misusages of design patterns, and these are things I can keep in mind going into the future. In particular, as some programs evolve, they may require a different design pattern than what’s originally implemented. What I take away from this is that it’s important to diagram your project before you get too invested in it. A simple UML diagram can likely show you if you’re using the right pattern, or if you’d need to change as you get further into the project.

From the blog CS@Worcester – Derek's Design by dereksspace and used with permission of the author. All other rights reserved by the author.