He would probably object to me calling him that, but I’ve long ago realized Kent Beck is one of the precious few who deserve the title “a mastermind”. With Extreme Programming, Test Driven Development, Responsive Design, the Four Elements of Simple Design and more under his belt, who can claim otherwise?
After attending a workshop of his about a year ago and listening to him talk a whole day I was astonished. I tried to pick his brains to understand what makes him tick. Of course there are many factors here – reading over 10,000 books and being smarter than most would help anyone. But something a bit less common takes a major part in this in my opinion, what Kent told me he has: a “habit of desperately wanting things to make sense” and his ability to take things apart until they do.
I recently picked up another of Kent’s books, Implementation Patterns. I love this book because it shows exactly that: his process of thinking and breaking things apart in order to understand them. The book provides a rare glimpse to his method of decomposition. Since I’ve been coding for years, a lot of the patterns made sense to me or seemed trivial. But the “magic” is the fact he was able to put into words things that for me were just hunches. Actually explaining what makes you sense a method is too long or what is a proper name for a variable is something I’ve never seen done with such care to specifics.
Because it’s such a quick read, I think anyone will benefit by reading Implementation Patterns. More than helping you understand our craft better, it will provide a new outlook on decomposing and judging your designs and pretty much everything else.