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"Programmer to the Stars" Bruce Tate spotted at swanky North Austin establishment

Posted by johnreynolds on April 18, 2006 at 1:34 PM PDT
Bruce Tate looking disgusted

"What? No Elephant on the menu!?!"

I recently had lunch with "Programmer to the Stars" Bruce Tate at a swanky North Austin establishment... Bruce was (of course) traveling incognito (hence the sun glasses) due to the fatwa issued against him by various Javatollahs for blaspheming the one true programming language.

Of course I am just kidding. I asked Bruce to pose for the picture (and supplied the sun glasses)... but there has been a bit of a nasty furor over Bruce's latest book: Beyond Java, and I wanted to poke a little fun at his critics.

Kudos to Bruce for stirring the pot, for as William Hazlitt (English essayist (1778 - 1830)) noted:

"When a thing ceases to be a subject of controversy, it ceases to be a subject of interest."

In this case, the controversy is Java versus Ruby On Rails: Is Java a great tool for creating web-based CRUD applications or does Ruby leave Java in the dust?

Bruce is still pretty sold on Ruby for this problem space, and his enthusiasm is hard to resist... I feel very tempted to try ROR, but in honesty I am rooting for Rick Hightower's JSF/Rife integration efforts.

Ruby aside, I am in total agreement with Bruce that many of Java's abstractions obscure the relationship between our customers' requirements and the code that implements the functionality.

Bruce and I talked of many things over lunch, but we kept coming back to questions regarding learning how to program: My starting point is to start teaching programming concepts (programming literacy, not computer literacy) in our middle schools... Bruce's approach is to eradicate distractions through the use of Domain Specific Languages.

One "sort of quote" from Bruce stuck in my mind. Bruce never thought of himself as a high-level programmer, but he finds himself spinning out DSLs on every Ruby project he tackles. This reminds me very much of my own experiences with FORTH. The basic tenet of FORTH was the creation of a vocabulary for the job at hand, and composition of the application from that new vocabulary (Maybe I need to dig out my old copy of Leo Brodie's Thinking in FORTH to refresh my "little gray cells").

Controversies aside... I really enjoyed my lunch with Bruce, as I really enjoy interacting with other programmers through my blog. What's really great about Java is the community spirit... the ability to interact with a diverse group of talented people who are truly passionate about what they do (sometimes a bit too passionate, but that sure beats apathy).

One thing is crystal clear... If we don't continue to question and rethink our basic approaches to Programming (and how Programming is taught) we really are going to have a Software Crisis on our hands.

As for Bruce: Hopefully the Javatollahs will rescind their fatwa and he can ditch the sun glasses ;-)

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