Tuesday, February 24, 2009

MWRC 2009 Mini-Interview: Jim Weirich

In my latest MWRC mini-interview, I talked with Jim Weirich @jimweirich) who is a second time presenter. MountainWest RubyConf is well known for the quality of presenters and attendees, you owe it to yourself to be a part of it this year. At $100 for two days, it's a great value — what are you waiting for, go register

There's no description of your talk 'The Building Blocks of Modularity' on the website. Other than oatmeal, what can we expect from it?

Jim I've been thinking about principles of software design lately. You know, the "rules" one programs by. We all have them, whether it is something simple like the "DRY Principle", or the "Keep Methods Short" rules, or more elaborate rules like the set of SOLID principles from Bob Martin.

So, what makes a good set of principles? It seems to me that quite a number of these principles deal with the issues of program complexity and keeping software maintainable and under control while continually changing it. Is there something in the fundamental nature of software that causes us to gravitate toward these common principles?

Meilir Page-Jones likes to talk about software in terms of connascence. Connascence is simply the idea that different parts of a software program must changes together in order for the entire program to work correctly. For example, to change the name of a function, I need to change the name everywhere the function is used. Every location that references the name of that function is related to all the other locations through "Connascense of Name". By understanding the different kinds of connascence, we can begin to understand the principles we use to build more modular and maintainable programs.

Your 'Shaving with Occam' was a favorite at MWRC 2008. Which talks from last year stood out to you?

Jim The talk that stands out for me was the Shoulda talk by Tammer Saleh (@tsaleh). That was the first time I had heard of Shoulda and since then I've become a big fan of that library.

What are you most looking forward to at MWRC 2009?

Jim I have to choose? Playstation and Wii talks! Testing talks on Cucumber and GUIs! I think more than the talks I'm looking forward to just meeting great people and talking about Ruby.

What do you think 2009 holds in store for Ruby, the language and the community?

Jim It's always hard to predict the future. With Ruby 1.9.1 out now, I'm hoping that more and more gems and libraries will be upgraded to use it. There are some really exciting features in 1.9 and getting the community on board with 1.9 will be a critical step in bringing Ruby into the future.

If you could attend a Regional Foo Conf for some other language, what language would it be?

Jim I would love to attend a conference on Clojure. I've been following the language a while, but haven't really had the time to actually program in it. With massive multi-core system becoming common place, concurrency is only going to become more and more important. Languages like Erlang and Clojure that attempt to address the concurrency problem head on are going to be big players in that arena.

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