Code, Run, Break, Repeat.

Upon reading the first line of “Breakable Toys”, I knew I was in for a pattern that I could connect to. Often, my behavior can be related to a “bull in a china shop”; while not outwardly malicious, my clumsy nature with unfamiliar material can often lead to mishaps and damages.

This is where the breakable toys come into play. According to “Apprenticeship Patterns”, journey-programmers can benefit from making similar programs to the ones that they work with in their profession. These “dummy programs” can then be played with to one’s content, allowing for all sorts of experimentation without worries of destroying the actual project.

To me, I found it useful that the pattern recommends “creating a familiar game like tic-tac-toe in many different languages”. It reminds me of my earlier projects where, as stated in a previous blog, I would practice new languages with familiar tactics. I find it to be a valuable way of connecting “Breakable Toys” to other patterns (such as “Your First Language”).

Most importantly, I believe that “Breakable Toys” is one of the most instrumental patterns to my professional future. Science is not a field involving constant “correct-ness”; science instead does quite the opposite, and computer science is a subset of the broad field. With breakable toys, we are constantly trying to find wrong answers, to push boundaries and discover what can and cannot be done with languages, data structures, APIs and the like.

Perhaps I need to read the section again to fully understand it, but I am at a bit of a loss for the example action being “to create a wiki”. As stated above, I think that better examples for breakable toys would involve familiar projects/programs in new languages, or using different algorithms/data structures. The wiki can be a good start as a “portfolio” to hold all these projects, but on its own I don’t feel as though a wiki is allowing much time out of the comfort zone.

Personally, I feel as though “breakable toys” is an easy concept to understand, but is also a bit more difficult to apply in practice. As I question the pattern’s “classic examples” (like the Wiki), I push forward as the pattern implies as its intention. However, as I leave this comfort zone, I wonder if I stray too far, over my head of expertise (even for a “failure-safe” experience)…

Published by Mike Morley (mpekim)

Current student at WSU. Knowledgeable of C/C++, Java and Python. Always interested in learning the basics of as many languages as possible.

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