May 18, 2004

Review of 'Object Thinking'

TBR writes "This is a very different sort of book on object oriented development. It begins with the basic premise that there is much more to the object oriented paradigm than mastering the mechanics of a programming language - whether that language be Java, C#, Python or anything else. So far so good, this isn't a particularly controversial point to make, and most practitioners would agree that it takes a few years to really 'get' objects, unlike the weeks or months it takes to learn the syntax of a language. However, rather than produce a computer science book on object oriented theory - encapsulation, polymorphism, inheritance etc - author David West takes the reader on a kind of philosophical journey towards an understanding of 'object thinking.

Perhaps we lead a sheltered life here at TechBookReport, but there are few books that we get to see that will include discussions of post-modernist thinking, philosophical hermeneutics, Heidegger and the intricacies of object oriented software development. While this might seem like theoretical muscle-flexing on West's part, it is in fact central to his contention that object thinking is part and parcel of a wider approach to problem solving (indeed wider than that, for West this is a world-view rather than something specific to software development).

The book takes a partisan line, attacking rationalist/determinism thinking which favours tools, mathematics and rigid formalism as opposed to a 'post-modernist' line which favours emergent behaviour, hermeneutics (the art or science of interpretation) and agile techniques. In more workaday terms it's the contrast between those who see software development as being people-led (i.e. the proponents of agile methodologies, including extreme programming and SCRUM), and those who see it as tools-led (the proponents of modelling, UML and Rational Rose)."


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