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A larger point about "Pharo By Example"

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A larger point about "Pharo By Example"

blake watson
I've been reading through PBE (obviously) and noticed myself getting bored in the Collections chapter. "Preposterous," I say to myself, "I =love= collections!" (I'm not being sarcastic, either: I've always found Smalltalk's collections to be engaging both in terms of design and use.)

I thought I'd skip over the chapter, and go to Streams, but that didn't look any better. Then I looked at the Morphic chapter, which looked interesting, and realized the problem:

On page 150, in the SUnit chapter, there's a "by example" section. The next "example" section is on page =232=! So, about 1/4 of this "by example" book...isn't! 

More, because after the Morphic and Seaside chapters, the book goes back into "reference manual" mode.

I'm looking at contributing some fixes to this, but curious as to what other folks think about it.

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Re: A larger point about "Pharo By Example"

Ben Coman
blake wrote:

> I've been reading through PBE (obviously) and noticed myself getting bored
> in the Collections chapter. "Preposterous," I say to myself, "I =love=
> collections!" (I'm not being sarcastic, either: I've always found
> Smalltalk's collections to be engaging both in terms of design and use.)
>
> I thought I'd skip over the chapter, and go to Streams, but that didn't
> look any better. Then I looked at the Morphic chapter, which looked
> interesting, and realized the problem:
>
> On page 150, in the SUnit chapter, there's a "by example" section. The next
> "example" section is on page =232=! So, about 1/4 of this "by example"
> book...isn't!
>
> More, because after the Morphic and Seaside chapters, the book goes back
> into "reference manual" mode.
>
> I'm looking at contributing some fixes to this, but curious as to what
> other folks think about it.
>  
Its been a long time since I read PBE.  I don't remember feeling that
way - but everyone has different learning styles and pain threshold.  If
you've noticed it then its likely others have but haven't bothered to
contribute their opinions.   However skimming over that part of PBE now,
on the face of  it I would say that there ARE a LOT of "small" examples
to try out, but I think you are referring to "complete example
mini-applications."

Chapters 8 - 10 legitimately cover a lot of ground with low level stuff,
so I think the use of small examples is legitimate.  In general,
anywhere that you see a ---> arrow is an example of execution that you
can do yourself.  Did you execute all of those?  Or did they seem too
trivial?  If you can think up some way to make it more interesting with
mini-application at this point then I am sure that will be well received.

One idea crossed my mind.  Taking Method 8.1 as an example, perhaps it
seems too trivial to bother executing, and so for lack of interactivity
it becomes boring.  However prompting the reader to TRACE through a
debug of 'Color red printString' (by highlighting it and choosing
<debug> from its context menu) might provide more interactive life to
it.  Actually that is one of the great beauties of Smalltalk - being
able to trace through ANY part of the system to learn/modify/fix it. I
found personally that the more confident I got doing that, as well as
jamming 'halt' statements into code to see how it was called, the more
my Smalltalk ability accelerated (you just need to be careful with
halting the GUI event loop :) - using 'haltOnce' instead. Encouraging
readers to do it more often might help get them in the mood and rhythm
of doing this more often.

Maybe the interactive-example should have a different background format
than the code-example. Some books use 'finger-icons' in the margin as a
"Try This" prompt.  Perhaps something like that would help discourage
skimming over things - which is where the boredom might arise.  It might
be slower but more interesting.

I guess some of it comes down to the semantics of "By Example".  There
are certainly plenty of examples but whole mini-applications are more
interesting.  I would encourage you to go ahead explore your ideas for
additions to the book. Don't worry about doing something wrong.  I find
that is when I learn the most anyway , and at worst if it didn't fit the
book, then it could make a good blog post/tutorial that is useful to
people - but I am interested to see what you come up with.  Good to see
your enthusiasm.

cheers -ben
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Re: A larger point about "Pharo By Example"

blake watson
Yes, I think your assessment is correct: I would even say the interactivity goes down a notch. You're doing SUnit, and it's, well, not coding, exactly, but it's =like= coding, it's =precursor= to coding, and the example feels like something you could expand on.

Then it's "there's this and this and this..." and even though it's all really cool, it's =not= coding. Speaking personally, I retain less when I'm given a large list of possibilities than when I'm given a small set that I actually use.




On Thu, Oct 10, 2013 at 7:55 PM, <[hidden email]> wrote:
blake wrote:
I've been reading through PBE (obviously) and noticed myself getting bored
in the Collections chapter. "Preposterous," I say to myself, "I =love=
collections!" (I'm not being sarcastic, either: I've always found
Smalltalk's collections to be engaging both in terms of design and use.)

I thought I'd skip over the chapter, and go to Streams, but that didn't
look any better. Then I looked at the Morphic chapter, which looked
interesting, and realized the problem:

On page 150, in the SUnit chapter, there's a "by example" section. The next
"example" section is on page =232=! So, about 1/4 of this "by example"
book...isn't!

More, because after the Morphic and Seaside chapters, the book goes back
into "reference manual" mode.

I'm looking at contributing some fixes to this, but curious as to what
other folks think about it.
 
Its been a long time since I read PBE.  I don't remember feeling that way - but everyone has different learning styles and pain threshold.  If you've noticed it then its likely others have but haven't bothered to contribute their opinions.   However skimming over that part of PBE now, on the face of  it I would say that there ARE a LOT of "small" examples to try out, but I think you are referring to "complete example mini-applications."

Chapters 8 - 10 legitimately cover a lot of ground with low level stuff, so I think the use of small examples is legitimate.  In general, anywhere that you see a ---> arrow is an example of execution that you can do yourself.  Did you execute all of those?  Or did they seem too trivial?  If you can think up some way to make it more interesting with mini-application at this point then I am sure that will be well received.
One idea crossed my mind.  Taking Method 8.1 as an example, perhaps it seems too trivial to bother executing, and so for lack of interactivity it becomes boring.  However prompting the reader to TRACE through a debug of 'Color red printString' (by highlighting it and choosing <debug> from its context menu) might provide more interactive life to it.  Actually that is one of the great beauties of Smalltalk - being able to trace through ANY part of the system to learn/modify/fix it. I found personally that the more confident I got doing that, as well as jamming 'halt' statements into code to see how it was called, the more my Smalltalk ability accelerated (you just need to be careful with halting the GUI event loop :) - using 'haltOnce' instead. Encouraging readers to do it more often might help get them in the mood and rhythm of doing this more often.

Maybe the interactive-example should have a different background format than the code-example. Some books use 'finger-icons' in the margin as a "Try This" prompt.  Perhaps something like that would help discourage skimming over things - which is where the boredom might arise.  It might be slower but more interesting.

I guess some of it comes down to the semantics of "By Example".  There are certainly plenty of examples but whole mini-applications are more interesting.  I would encourage you to go ahead explore your ideas for additions to the book. Don't worry about doing something wrong.  I find that is when I learn the most anyway , and at worst if it didn't fit the book, then it could make a good blog post/tutorial that is useful to people - but I am interested to see what you come up with.  Good to see your enthusiasm.

cheers -ben
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https://www.iam.unibe.ch/mailman/listinfo/sbe-discussion


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