Hello Learning Curve World

I have witnessed innumerable chats where the hello world experience of Java has been teased.

public class HelloWorld { public static void main(String[] args) { System.out.println(“Hello, World”); }

You can take a part basically every word and start explaining the concepts to the newbie:

public: the notion of package/public/private/default visibility
class: what is this OO thing?
static: instance vs. class methods
void: return types and nothingness
main: entry
String[]: types and arrays of type (v.s. Lists and other Collections)
args: arguments to methods
System: what things hang off that… and oh yeah java.lang.*
out: STDOUT / streams
println: printy printy

There is a rats nest off of most of those items.

In the land of Perl/Python/Ruby/… we scoff at this.

print “Hello, World”;

The same can be said in JavaScript land, but our boilerplate has changed over the years and now most modules end up with trappings (that differ between libraries):

// Twitter Bootstrap
(function(){ // …

// underscore.js
(function() { // …

// craft.js
;(function(window, document){ // …
})(this, this.document);

// jQuery
(function(window, undefined) { // …

// can.js
(function (window, $, undefined) { // …
})(this, jQuery);

We have gotten “smart” to stick to the good parts, but it is a shame that there is quite a learning curve around the language (this, arguments, and all that jazz).

In an ideal world the power of a platform will show itself like peals of an onion. You keep finding more.

JavaScript isn’t all bad in this way at all, but we could use some help.

Team ownership and Splitting the apps; Facebook

It is interesting to see the cultural, structural, and technical changes that Facebook is going through.

Mike Isaac discusses their mobile first / own your code approach. On the one hand we have seen them change their structure so focus area leaders have full responsibility (and accountability, and the ability to get shit done).

Peter Deng (who I loved working with at Google… enjoyed his rise to fame!) owns messaging in its entirety. They use the standalone app to experiment and try things out, and then roll in these learnings to the main app. The same is true for the photos app. As well as having a canvas to play with, there are users that much prefer the targeted experience of an app dedicated to doing one thing well.

As an aside, I am on the flip side of that. The latest Facebook iOS app has chat on the right hand pane and I never use it, so I wish I could turn it off!

With the standalone app, I can see how Peters team can move fast with minimal communication overhead. I am curious to know how they manage bringing that across into the app, and what process exists for the merging of submodules into that main app.

I have had similar thoughts and issues in my day job. There are cross cutting concerns (e.g. mobile payments), standalone elements (e.g. photo), and the umbrella app that can house them all.

Getting the right structure in place seems critical. If teams aren’t aligned via goals from a high level strategy you get finger pointing and massive politics. It feels like large companies often fall into the same trap:

#1 early folks do amazing things to grow the company

#2 these folks try to codify what they do in process, but forget that it was the people that mattered.

At that point you look up and you have massive bureaucracy in the name of “scaling” and you are screwed.

How a mensch can make you believe again

While the first reaction of Lucasfilm being sold to Disney may have been “nooooooooooo!” from some fans who worry about where the Mouse will take it, it brought me a great smile.

The smile wasn’t just thinking about the opportunity that I will have to take my kids to see Star Wars VII.

It was about the amazingly generous act of George Lucas when I saw that he will be funneling so much of the money to charity, and specifically to education.

It gave me hope. Hope that capitalism can actually come to real good…. at a time where the election gives me such pause and frustration.

I am thinking about all of the kids that have paid money to that franchise over the years. From movies to merchandize and beyond. So often we cynically picture Scrooge McDuck milking the kids and parents and cackling. Not only has the franchise created many jobs and careers, it has delivered much passion. Sci-Fi gets poo-poo’d but you can’t argue that this fits into the “If we didn’t have art on this Earth, we would be left with all but Eh” view. How many spin offs have happened thanks to all that were originally touched.

And now, the fly wheel keeps going. All of the potential energy that was kept in Lucasfilm will be unleashed on the field of education. Where we need it so badly. The kids that loved Star Wars will be adults that make a massive difference.

George has gone from being a film master, and has become an all around legend. He has elevated himself above the realm of Disney, and we can’t thank him enough for giving back.