Death of comp.object

January 16, 2015 at 10:40 am | Posted in Programming | Leave a comment
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If you are passionate about programming then you must have discussed about programming on some Newsgroup. It is really sad to see that current generation of programmers have never heard of something called USENET or a Newsgroup. Even programmers with half a decade of experience in OOP have never heard of comp.object and this is exactly the place where I learned the foundations of Object-Oriented methodology. As of 2015, comp.object is dead and full of spam, almost no useful post from couple of years, useful in the sense where some experienced OO practitioners have discussed something very fundamental and basic related to the OO Methodology. There were people like H.S.Lahman, Uncle Bob, Daniel T, Jerry Coffin, Philip and S. Perryman (and of course never forget anti-OO-zealot “topmind”). There were several others but I can only recall back few.

To tell you the truth, I never hates OOP as much as “topmind” hates OOP, I hated the very word “object” but that all changed when I started hanging on comp.object. I made very few posts and all of them were a newbie asking the answers to his questions and doubts but I read a lot of posts, really hell of a lot of threads I read and just like comp.lang.c, comp.lang.c++, comp.lang.lisp it was a very good experience in following the guidance of the folks there. Here is some brilliant advice on how to start learning OO way from one of the experts in the field (H.S.Lahman), I have not edited his advice, do not want anyone to miss his original words :), here are the abbreviations to some of the acronyms:

  • OT: Object Technology (referring to the entire field based on Object Oriented Thinking)
  • OOA: Object Oriented Analysis
  • OOD: Object Oriented Design
  • OOM:Object Oriented Modelling

> I am new to the field. I have some programming experience. I
> was wondering if anyone could recommend a good book to start.
> Thanks in advance.

Alas, OT is a big field and one book probably won’t do it for you.

I would suggest you start with a book on OOA and/or OOD. Such books
generally describe the fundamentals better. But avoid books with a
specific language or ‘UML’ in the title. Those tend to be about
manipulating syntax rather than fundamentals.

Even if you end up using a pure OOP-based process, you should still
trying some UML modeling. That’s because it provides a good expression
of the fundamentals in a very compact manner. In this case a book with
UML in the title is an advantage.

Then you need to deal with OOP. For that you need a book with a
specific language in the title. Probably two books because it is useful
to start “playing” with OT using a “purist” language like Smalltalk.
That will complete the OOA -> OOD -> OOP cycle in the most coherent
fashion. (Alas, the most popular OOPLs have made more compromises with
Turing so the transition is less obvious.) Then you will need a book on
the language de jour if you plan on doing OT professionally.

You’ll notice I didn’t recommend any specific books. In each category
there are lots and most are pretty similar. Since I haven’t read them
all, I can’t even guess which one is actually the best. Just browse
them in a book store and pick the one that seems most readable and
provides the most clarity to you.


There is nothing wrong with me that could
not be cured by a capful of Drano.

H. S. Lahman
h…@pathfindermda.com
Pathfinder Solutions
http://www.pathfindermda.com
blog: http://pathfinderpeople.blogs.com/hslahman
“Model-Based Translation: The Next Step in Agile Development”. Email
in…@pathfindermda.com for your copy.
Pathfinder is hiring:
http://www.pathfindermda.com/about_us/careers_pos3.php.
(888)OOA-PATH

Such a beautiful explanation, so straightforward and simple advice. If you search the archives of comp.object on net then you will come across much larger information from many intelligent and experienced people. I did read lot of threads and based on that knowledge of mine I started searching more about it and came across few interesting facts and one of them is: OOP is not really about objects . Is that shocking ? You think I must be crazy to suggest that Object Oriented Programming is not about Objects. The only important building-blocks of OOP are two: one is old and other is modern. As per Old thingy, poor Alan Kay, the man who created OOP, OOP is not about objects and in facts Alan Kay regretted using the word “object”. It is about message-passing. As per the modern outlook, OOP is about how objects behave , not how they are constructed or what features they have. Inheritance or Classes are not basic building blocks of OOP.

Proof ?

Self is a Class-less OO language :). One does not need Classes or Inheritance to do OOP. It is so much interesting. Now I understood that I really did not hate OOP, I hated the way it is taught in schools/colleges, same way all students hate Math, not because Math is boring but because it is taught neither in a right way with basics nor in its practical applications to this world. subjects/Fields which are so interesting in this practical world are never ever taught in schools that way. Not only that, 2nd reason I hated OOP is, even in professional world most software engineers never ever learn beyond what they learned back in college. A student who just got out of college looks upon experienced professionals as his gurus, his new teachers who will guide him to correct path but that does not happen much. Good programmers are rare and half of them are jobless. First, generally people are lazy and 2nd the ones who are not lazy, do not get time to learn more and 3rd, not everyone likes programming, and if you belong to lazy or no-interest group then that means you should not be doing programming. Programming is about passion, without passion and interest you will never ever going to be good at it. Without interest I could never have found what Alan Kay said about OOP and I could have never come across the modern definition of an Object. I checked comp.object after several years today and what I see, comp.object is a dead group. It was sad to see no new threads on OO methodology from the the time I stopped reading. I wanted to ask what happened and in archives I see someone already asked same question and the answer to that was true but a sad one: world has changed , it is digital age, this tech world moves very fast compared to other domains like sales for example and OO landscape is no longer the same. comp.object is full of spam now, its is dead and gone, here are the reasons why it happened, think of this blogpost as a record of the history, it is difficult to find USENET Newsgroup archives these days. You can try searching it on google groups, original thread title was “OOP, this NG and you. Where is everyone?” and I have posted a link at the bottom. Tis question was posted by Alvin Ryder:

HI Guys,

A few years ago this was a pretty active NG, it seems to be rather
quiet now and I seriously wonder why?

Is it because:
a. Uncle Bob rarely visits?
b. No one programs in English speaking countries anymore?
c. No one uses OOP much anymore?
d. Everyone moved to a funkier group? If so which one?

I don’t have any real clue what do you guys think (erh, if anyone sees
this)?

Cheers

[by Alvin Ryder]
—————————————————————————

Usenet in general has been on the decline for the past several years,
probably because of the rise of Web based forums. I think that’s part of it.
In addition, some/many of the regulars seemed to have moved on. Also, and
this is nothing personal, I would contend that the activity of this group
over the past 8 years has been somewhat artificially inflated due to
topmind’s involvment. If you do searches on this group regarding a variety
of topics, you’ll run across many monster threads circa 5 or 6 years ago
involving the regs and topmind. As far as OOP in general, maybe it’s reached
the point in which every thing that can be said has been said.

[by Leslie Sanford]

———————————————————————————-

> “Leslie Sanford” wrote:

> Usenet in general has been on the decline for the past several years,
> probably because of the rise of Web based forums. I think that’s part of it.

Sadly. Blogs seem to be taking usenets place.

> In addition, some/many of the regulars seemed to have moved on.
> Also, and this is nothing personal, I would contend that the
> activity of this group over the past 8 years has been somewhat
> artificially inflated due to topmind’s involvment. If you do
> searches on this group regarding a variety of topics, you’ll
> run across many monster threads circa 5 or 6 years ago
> involving the regs and topmind. As far as OOP in general, maybe
> it’s reached the point in which every thing that can be said has
> been said.

Agreed on the later point. OO seems to have reached some sort of
saturation point. The time is getting ripe for the “next big thing”, but
it seems that thing still hasn’t shown its face.

[by Daniel T.]
—————————————————————————————-

> Responding to Ryder…
> A few years ago this was a pretty active NG, it seems to be rather
> quiet now and I seriously wonder why?

I agree with Sanford. I would add that a surprising number of
developers today don’t even know that USENET exists.

However, I would also add the militant proselytizing of the OOP-based
agile crowd. That definitely killed the old OTUG forum Rational ran —
which was busier than comp.object once upon a time — and I think it
contributed here as well.

[by H.S.Lahman]
—————————————————————————————–

> “H. S. Lahman” wrote in message
> I agree with Sanford. I would add that a surprising number
> of developers today don’t even know that USENET exists.

> However, I would also add the militant proselytizing of the OOP-based
> agile crowd. That definitely killed the old OTUG forum Rational ran —
> which was busier than comp.object once upon a time — and I think it
> contributed here as well.

Contributed how ??
I doubt said “crowd” drove anyone away en-masse from the comp.* groups.

OTOH, a lot of them certainly seemed to exit stage left when their claims
were challenged sufficiently often (like giving it but not taking it etc) .

Regards,
Steven Perryman

——————————————————————————————

> Responding to Perryman…
>> However, I would also add the militant proselytizing of the OOP-based
>> agile crowd. That definitely killed the old OTUG forum Rational ran —
>> which was busier than comp.object once upon a time — and I think it
>> contributed here as well.
>
> Contributed how ??
> I doubt said “crowd” drove anyone away en-masse from the comp.* groups.

Bandwidth. Not too long ago this group generated ~100 messages a day,
which takes awhile to sort through. When a lot of those messages are
about advocating a particular development process and have little to do
with the thread subject matter, people decide they just don’t have time
to sort through it all. [On OTUG people were quite specific about why
they were quitting and there was no equivalent of Topmind pulling
people’s chains. The agile crowd learned from that and aren’t as
obnoxious here, but the basic bandwidth problem remains.]

When the fraction of that 100 messages/day that are feeding the P/R
troll or are about OOP-based agile advocacy approach 50% or so, the
useful information content of the forum becomes greatly diminished and
it ceases to be worth the trouble to sort it out. (Putting people in
kill files doesn’t work well because occasionally they have something
useful to say and it also trashes the context of the messages responding
to them.)

[by H.S.Lahman]
—————————————————————————————–

I’ve learnt more from this NG about software development than any
other single source, but after a while people just sit in the same old
entrenched position (myself probably included), noone ever admits to
having learnt anything new, or being wrong, so it fails to become a
positive experience, it’s just another endless avalanche of ranting
and nay saying….(myself probably included).

[by Mark Nicholls ]

——————————————————————————————

> Responding to Parker…

> I don’t know. “Object Oriented” as a tag line has been vanishing for
> some time. It wouldn’t help you to publish a book anymore to have OO
> in the title. I don’t see any conferences anymore with OO in the
> name. Vendors have long since stopped talking about OO. All the so-
> called OO “methodologies, the Shlaer and Mellor, the Booch etc. appear
> to be gone, and no one seems to miss them. The OO databases are
> largely gone, no one talks about OO operating systems anymore.
> “Executable UML” is mostly gone. OO was part of one giant hype cycle
> for a while, but it’s over, and now the hype has moved onto other
> things, today it’s SOA. And just like not all of the SOA hype is
> nonsense, only 90 percent, not all of the OO hype was nonsence
> either. We still have the programming languages with support for
> ADTs. But that’s about it.

I agree there is a lot less marketing hype about OO, but why is that?
How many shops outside of low-level R-T/E and RAD pipeline development
use an OOPL vs. a procedural language or FPL? The reason there isn’t any
hype about OO is because it has been broadly accepted so talking about
it has no direct marketing value. In the early ’80s how many people were
selling tools because they were procedural? They were all procedural so
there was no point in differentiating on that basis.

In addition, if one looks at the technologies de jour that are being
hyped today, like SOA, they are mostly enabled by OO techniques. Even
the most hard-core RAD DBMS tools are climbing all over themselves to
look more OO-like.

I agree OOA/D methodologies are currently on the wane temporarily
because the OOP-based agile crowd is trying to convince everyone that
all you need to know about is OOP. But that bubble is beginning to burst
and I expect OOA/D methodologies to rebound, especially because…

As far as executable UML is concerned, it has “gone” to the major
commercial software houses. There are only two translation vendors from
the ’90s that are still independent as the big houses position
themselves strategically. The 50+% productivity and reliability gains
make translation as inevitable as conversion from BAL to 3GLs was. So
translation isn’t going anywhere; everyone else will be coming to it.

> comp.object became a “soft”
> newsgroup where almost anybody could post how they felt about “getters
> versus setters” or “method versus message”, or “behaviour versus
> data”, or “tell versus ask”. We were told there was theory, but it
> was somewhere else, in a book by Abadi and Cardelli or in some paper,
> but it never seemed to get incorporated into any discussions.

But aren’t those issues fundamental to OOA/D? Don’t the justifications
of those positions represent OO methodological theory?

Unfortunately one problem with comp.object is its schizophrenia. It
combines OOA, OOD, and OOP, which are quite different things. Thus the
type theory of A&D is largely irrelevant to OOA/D discussions while OO
design issues like separation of message and method are irrelevant to
OOP. IMO far too much forum bandwidth was spent on OOP issues. There are
plenty of language and programming forums on USENET where code
refactoring discussions could live. But comp.object is one of the few
software design forums.

[by H.S.Lahman]

original thread made available by Google through Google Groups Web interface.

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