Feeds

Refactoring and Smalltalk

A sexy new name for 'design'

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Steve Taylor has emailed us with some interesting remarks on Pan Pantziarka’s review of Ken Pugh’s Prefactoring book:

“Your book review of 'Prefactoring' (pre-factoring? Isn't that what we used to call 'design'?) credits Martin Fowler's 1999 book with coining the term 'Refactoring'.”

Good point about "design", Steve, but if giving it a sexy new name gets people to actually do it, I'm all in favour!

[Steve comments:

“Similarly, I've noticed for ages how the word 'programmer' is prone to inflation - 'analyst', 'programmer/analyst', 'senior programmer', 'software architect' and so on - but I was tickled to discover that in the very early days of computing - barely post Enigma and Manhattan Project - people who created computer programs were 'coders' and 'programmer' was considered to be an affectation, brought over to America from the British computing scene”.]

But, back to Steve on Refactoring:

“While he [Fowler] certainly did plenty to popularise the concept, it's a bit older than that, with the Smalltalk Refactoring Browser being the first implementation I'm aware of. A look at the home page of Don Roberts, one of the authors of the original refactoring browser, shows a number of papers from earlier years.

“In fact, a history of the refactoring browser shows work going as far back as 1994. It's not immediately clear if the term 'refactoring' goes back quite that far, but it's certainly pre-Fowler”.

Very interesting, but I think we both agree that Fowler fairly deserves credit for getting the term “Refactoring” widely accepted...

The reference to Smalltalk reminded me of when I suggested to the CIO I was working for back in the 1990s that if we really wanted to introduce OO we should be pushing Smalltalk instead of C++; but, I was told, we had a lot of C programmers to keep happy. I wonder how much real OO we got in the end. But I left that place shortly afterwards, for somewhere where I felt more at home… Personally, BTW, I still have a soft spot for Simula, which influenced Smalltalk – I had to QA a port simulation written in Simula around 1982.

Steve comments:

“I was lucky enough to have a Smalltalk job for a while in the '90s, before interest dried up. I still consider it a standout amongst all the other programming languages I've used - in some odd way it feels like you're working directly with objects, whereas in other languages you're manipulating them at a distance. As for Java - the old saw about "taking a shower in a raincoat" has some relevance.”

In fact, interest in Smalltalk hasn’t entirely dried up, it seems to me, and it has got easier to use, while its alleged “overheads scarcely matter anymore–, according to a chat I had a couple of years ago with James Robertson, once of ParcPlace, and now product manager for SmallTalk's new "owners", Cincom. Take a look at James’ blog (and others) here. Cincom’s Smalltalk is available for free download, for non-commercial use, here; or, you might like to try Squeak, a “highly portable open source Smalltalk with powerful multimedia facilities”.

There’s a list of many other Smalltalk implementations here.

Seven Steps to Software Security

More from The Register

next story
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.