Don’t tell Paul but I sometimes listen to the Boagworld podcast. I’m sharing this dark secret with you because recently the podcast featured a good interview with Christian Heilmann.

Christian talks about best and worst practices in writing JavaScript today. It’s well worth a listen.

But when the subject turns to Object Oriented Programming, Christian makes a pointed reference:

And there’s not much magic to it. I mean I get annoyed when I see JavaScript guys going on stage and saying like: Well guys, this is a function and when it’s an object it’s a method and why should I know this? Well you should know this because you need to communicate with other developers as well sooner or later.

Um… that would be me. In my books, presentations and workshops I’ve often explained methods and properties as being like functions and variables, just within the scope of an object (hence the dot syntax). But I never, ever said And why should I know this?

What I was trying to do was explain objects using reference points that I think most people will understand. I know that for me personally I had a lightbulb moment when I grokked methods and properties as being like functions and variables. The whole point of explaining this terminology is precisely so that people can communicate with other developers. As Christian says:

And these people speak that lingo and rather than you having to explain yourself for 15 minutes you could communicate in 3 minutes.

Exactly! That’s why I think it’s important that I take the time to at least explain the terminology of objects (i.e. methods and properties) even if I don’t delve into the technical details. My aim, like Christian, is to encourage better understanding and communication.

Evidently Christian takes issue with my teaching techniques. That’s fine. But I wish he wouldn’t put words in my mouth by claiming that I’m telling people that they shouldn’t have to learn the terminology around JavaScript objects.

Then again… maybe his comment wasn’t aimed at me at all and there is some other conference speaker out there who is going around telling people that they don’t have to know what the words “method” and “property” mean. If that’s true, then I agree with Christian. Such exhortations are not useful. But in lieu of any source for Christian’s imaginings of what he thinks he heard, I’ll take the egotistical paranoid route and assume he’s talking about me.

Anyway, I guess I’ll have to make sure from now on that I’m clearer about what I’m saying. More importantly, I’ll have to make sure that I’m clear on what I’m not saying.

Posted by Jeremy on Wednesday, March 19th, 2008 at 11:47am


See I knew you were a fan. Do you want my autograph?

# Posted by Paul Boag on Wednesday, March 19th, 2008 at 11:03pm

Well to be perfectly honest I would rather have you divulge and explain yourself than get too caught up in terms. Yes, many of them should be plainly understood (I mean your not going pay any attention what-so-ever if you if you not in this field) however sometimes its nice to know that people still speak normal and aren’t completely saturated with lingo that "doesn’t deserve explanation". So as for my vote keep explaining because it actually comes across as being normal and attracts a wider array of listeners and not just the "guru’s so to speak.

# Posted by lynne on Thursday, March 20th, 2008 at 6:52pm

No, Jeremy is not a fan, he’s a property and a method.

# Posted by completely on Sunday, March 23rd, 2008 at 6:14am

As a relative newbie I find lots of people make assumptions about how much you know and it’s hard to learn when all the tutorials you find are aimed at experts. Javascript is becoming more and more popular and not everybody comes from an OO background.

# Posted by Jon on Sunday, March 23rd, 2008 at 9:39pm

I read both of your books, and if they weren’t explain good, i wouldn’t understand DOM & Ajax like i do now. I am a developer but with a poor experience in OOP. I prefer explanations with examples. In my opinion is the best way to learn. I do not use js to do fancy stuff but necessary things. I really like the way DOM Scripting was written & Bulletproof Ajax, i hope to find books like this, but not everyone is capable of doing such a good work. I learned a lot and fast from this books, i can not say that about all the boos I’ve read. So, not everybody are good on teaching others, even if they are gurus so to say…

# Posted by Avasilcai Daniel on Monday, March 24th, 2008 at 2:42pm

Sorry. Comments are closed.

March 2008

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