Choose your own adventure: Ottinger's advice about simple code and complex models

What could be a better way to launch TheServerSide with its new look and enhanced functionality than by reaching back into the past and highlighting some of the latest insights of the former site editor, Joseph B. Ottinger?

It’s actually not that big a jump back in the past. Ottinger submitted a couple of articles earlier this year, replete with his sharp tongue and biting opinions. But the old site’s format made it difficult for readers to see where they were published, so given the evergreen nature of his advice, it just seems right to profile them here, in my first ever post to our aptly named Coffee Talk Blog.

Opening one’s mind to new approaches

So what’s Ottinger getting on about in his latest columns? First of all, there’s some sound advice for stodgy old programmers (like him). Resistant to change? Ottinger discusses the value in learning to appreciate this golden age of programming in which cool libraries and open source code can easily address the age-old question about “Why can’t we do that a different way in Java?” It’s always tempting to answer such questions with an self-important ‘because’, but ‘because’ no longer has to be the answer, no matter how stodgy one is.

“After thinking that the appropriate response was to shake my cane while shouting “Get off my lawn!,” it hit me that my response was outdated. There is absolutely no reason not to push the envelope further – and people do it all the time, in marvelously different ways.”

Article: Java’s lambda syntax rigidity exposes spoiled programmer’s frailties

Joe’s second submission is simply a call for simplicity. Of course, Joe’s call for simplicity in code is contrasted by an article penned with a high ranking Flesch-Kincaid score and esoteric references to the Monte Carlo method and Choose Your Own Adventure books. But of course, that type of eclectic writing style is why we always enjoy Joe’s contributions.

“Programming is about actually accomplishing something, not about conforming with a model of the real world; you’re writing code for a CPU to execute, so you want to write instructions, not a choose-your-own-adventure novel.”

Article: Excellent programming is about function, not form

You can follow Joe on Twitter: @josephbottinger

You can also follow me, Cameron McKenzie: @cameronmcnz

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