Home > Computers and Internet > A Rare Book Review: “Head First”

A Rare Book Review: “Head First”

10-Feb-07 05:59 pm EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

Object-Oriented Design Patterns.  Booch.  Jacobsen.  All proper nouns that, for many, might conjure up one really big yawn.  And, at times, not without some justification.  I consider myself really (and I do mean really) fascinated by the subject of computer programming.  But like many, it’s more at a practical rather than theoretical level.  So when a book comes along that takes what can otherwise be politely characterised as "dry" subject matter, and turn it into a fun read – it’s time to take notice.

Head First Design Patterns is just such a book.

The presentation of the book is typical of that one gets in the "Head First" series…a kind of comic-book approach that automatically makes it easier for those of us less used to reading for purposes other than enjoyment.  But that isn’t to say the whole book is simply a catalogue of examples on how to apply design patterns.  It walks one through the processes of applying the design pattern in a practical way – including discussions of some of the typical pitfalls or vulnerabilities of the approach as they’d occur were one actually putting the theory into practice.  Beyond that, there’s structure too – the typical "start-with-the-less-complex" and proceed to subjects of greater complexity as one goes.  But most of all – there’s humour to help keep those key points a little more memorable.

Although it’s taken me a while to get through the book (I was first introduced to this title nearly a year go), I’d say I’ve retained much the subject matter as I’ve read it.  But herein lies the vulnerability – the book doens’t focus on the underpinnings or history behind the thoeries it presents.  It merely presents them, and instructs the developer on how to become better at their job through the application of design patterns.  (This was evident when, during a recent job interview, I couldn’t recall what "The Factory Method" was exactly.  And yet, I was thinking of it as "The Factory Pattern". Ugh!)

Incidentally, it looks as if this might have been the very first in the "Head First" book series….and this book might give you incentive to try this approach to reading about new technologies if your read of this text works for you.

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Terry Glavin

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