It's been a rough week ... I still had my sore throat (noticeable during the webinar) when I arrived to do four days of accelerated Tapestry training in Michigan. Returning after midnight on Friday, I had morning and afternoon slots at Portland Code Camp on Saturday to talk about Clojure and Tapestry. I think it was a good little conference, and 75 minute time slots are just barely enough time to say something meaningful.
I attended a nice introduction to jQuery (once again confirming that I backed the wrong horse when selecting Prototype over jQuery for Tapestry), and another session on coding for iPhone.
The only other session I attended was iPhone Development from an ex Softie by Rory Blyth. It was entertaining in an unusual way, since Rory is very glib in a stream of consciousness kind of way, but he spent all but five minutes of his time ranting against Objective-C and iPhone toolkits. Literally he had five minutes for the core of his talk!
I was one of a few people in the audience who knew Objective-C (though it's more than ten years since I coded in it) and found many of his objections quite unreasonable. Basically, he wants Objective-C to look like every other language derived from C, which is missing the point of what Objective-C actually is: a melding of concepts from C and Smalltalk designed to operate on the very constrained hardware available, even for desktops, in the late 80's. It obligates developers to do something unreasonable by today's standards (a cumbersome retain count mechanism, rather than garbage collection), and the (optional) type syntax (such as
(NSString *)) reveals its C heritage (as Smalltalk doesn't deal with declared types).
I even made this point to him; that Objective-C may be a natural fit for the constrained devices such as mobile platforms. His response to any challenge from any audience member was that we were afflicted with "Stockholm syndrome".
Strangely, a few minutes after I pointed out the "constrained device" theory (which he dismissed, disjointedly citing Windows smart phones as a "success") he then talked about ... the constraints of the iPhone in terms of memory, battery and CPU utilization.
Basically, Rory is unable to wrap his head around anything unfamiliar or to understand how a difference in philosophy can inform how a language syntax evolves, as well as the terminology (i.e., Objective-C's "receivers", "messages" and "selectors") used to describe that language.
There's a quote from the book Freakonomics, roughly (from memory):
Morality is how we think we should live our lives. Economics reveals how we actually do.
Rory has a kind of "language morality" that states the objects should be listed first, with periods separating member access, such as method invocation, and that languages that deviate from this are failed and broken. Unfortunately for that argument, the explosive success of the iPhone and the iPhone app market indicates that Objective-C is a tremendous development platform for the kind of intuitive, focused, responsive applications that dominate the market.
It was a shame, because his style was entertaining, if very "slacker" styled, and if he organized his thoughts a bit and kept track of the clock, his valid criticisms of the iPhone development environment would hold a bit more weight and reach a wider, more receptive audience.