Programming with Marigold gloves on
Martha Stewart clicks your button
Stob We were quite awestruck and overcome with jealousy when Wired magazine managed to get in that guru of the grated nutmeg, high priestess of the investment handbag, and archdeaconess of the artichoke salad to host its annual 'How to' issue.
Wired came straight out and asked Martha, who is photographed putting the finishing touches to an exquisite robot made out of hedge, what she could teach geeks.
Martha replied, in the naturally pleasing tones and attractive voice for which she is well known (Wired doesn't actually supply this detail, but I am quite confident it is a northern rock solid inference), that geeks
'can learn to prioritize, and they can learn how to make things beautiful- Whether you're a programmer or a seamstress, it's all about new techniques, simplifying old techniques, and consolidating steps. Making things go faster - but not worse. Better.'
I doubt that our profession will ever again hear such a pithy and pointed advice. Make things faster, but not worse. The faint percussive sound you can hear in the distance is all the would-be clever clogs, the Martin Fowlers and the Kent Becks and the Prag-bloody-matic Programmers, slapping their foreheads in frustration at failing to announce and adopt such an obvious ploy.
Obviously, the hour has passed for the Cult of Agilities and Extremities, and it is time of the rise of the Stewarts. You will have many questions about this new style of programming, and in the unavoidable absence of Herself, I am being wheeled out to knock up a prelimanry FAQ. First question please.
What is the principal ambition of Programming the Martha Stewart way?
We aim to build an incredible development environment fit for heroes.
Oh yeah? And who are to be the beneficiaries of this heroic IDE?
The key thing to remember about our approach is that everybody is a hero.
However, as is well known, not all heroes are the same. Different heroes possess different heroic qualities.
I'm thinking of the Japanese guy, Mr Sulu's son, who can stop time by scrunching up his face like Dudley Moore making a wish in Bedazzled?
But what about that heroically boring Indian bloke who tends to come on at the beginning and explain the plot, and whose brains have not yet been eaten by the baddy, despite my shouting encouragement at the TV? Or the blonde lady who stares at mirrors all the time and becomes inexplicably aggressive at approximately monthly intervals?
Look, are you going to behave, or what?
Ok, I'm sorry. Is pair programming important in Martha's approach?
Pair programming is indeed an important technique, which we appreciate does work for some people. But for us, a good, solid marriage is always going to be the foundation of success. Nothing else gives the little programs the support they need as they come up against the harsh realities of life, like Vista.
One gathers Stewartism focuses on social issues rather than technical issues?
Not at all. Although we absolutely believe that all programming languages, whether dynamically or statically typed, can live together in peace and harmony, we are very much aware of the great programming language bake off.
Is Ruby the way forward?
Ruby is absolutely right for making some lightweight classes or a small website for bright breast-fed kids to put on their heads on the way to school.
Uh huh. I'll take that as a 'no'. How about Java, then?
It is an excellent language for the application of design patterns, provided the design pattern is Burberry.
We feel that Chava, sorry, Java is a splendid language for the financial sector, and for everybody else who habitually talks with his mouth full. Personally we'd rather be caught shoplifting Smarties from the pick 'n' mix counter in Woolworths than use it. We'd sooner set up in business selling teddy bears stolen from the shrines at road accident sites, we'd rather-
Yes, yes, all right. Calm down. So what programming language does get the yellow-rubbered-thumbs up?
At the Stewart Institute, we have a lot of time for Haskell.
Well I didn't see that one coming, I must admit. I wouldn't have thought Haskell's notorious laziness would mesh with Martha's world view. Is it the challenge of ironing those hanging indents properly?
Don't be facetious. No, our enthusiasm is inspired by Simon Peyton-Jones's videos. Such a nice man. 'SLPJ' is the Michael Palin of the functional programming world.
Simon's infectious enthusiasm for his subject is a lesson to us all. I'd go as far as to say that his lectures are as useful to seamstresses as they are to the average working programmer.
I think I begin to understand. Is Prof Jones married?
To a C of E priest, for heaven's sake. Still, it could never have worked. Apart from anything else, he works for Microsoft.
Fair enough. Verity, I have a bus to catch; just one more question that I know we have all been dieing to ask since Martha's name was first mentioned.
Right ho, fire away.
What's it really like in jail?