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- From: firstname.lastname@example.org
- To: "Liam R. E. Quin" <email@example.com>
- Date: Sun, 07 Feb 1999 19:38:42 -0700
> The spec is not an introduction. How many people here learnt C++
> by reading the ANSI spec? How many people here learned to tune a
> radio by reading the international specifications for radio
> frequency allocation?
I keep reading these challenges, first aboout Java, and now about C++. Well,
just as I first learned Java from Sun's specs, I also happened to have mostly
learned C++ from Stroustroup's Annotated Reference Manual, which is as close
as C++ had to a spec for quite a while.
Now true enough, as Paul Prescod points out, it is quite another matter to
learn a completely foreign language from a spec: I was already very familiar
with C, Smalltalk and somewhat familiar with Objective-C before tackling C++,
and I was very conversant with C++ before tackling Java, but I don't think
it's at all freakish to learn a language or system from a well-written spec.
I happen to like formalisms, and although it probably takes me much longer to
learn a new system as the seven days of the "dummies" books, I am happier in
Here's an example: I've just spent a good part of today and yesterday wading
through the spec for the CORBA object transaction service for implementation
in a project (we're using an ORB that doesn't support OTS). My brain might be
about to explode, but I think I can get some useful work done now. I'm sure I
could have found an intro from Orfali and Harkey somewhere with cute cartoons
of aliens explaining the protocol for a two-phase commit, but I'm usually
doubtful about what I really know after such tutorials.
So in short: there is nothing wrong about trying to learn from a well-written
spec. My problem with some W3C specs is not complexity (in fact, they are
probably the most straightforward specs I've read). It's more typically, as
I've said before, inconsistency, incompleteness, and unclearness (in the sense
of "ambiguity" rather than "abstruseness").
FourThought LLC, IT Consultants
Software engineering, project management, Intranets and Extranets
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