In Atwood's latest post The Ferengi Programmer, he argues that the OOP design guidelines and specifically Robert C Martin's S.O.L.I.D principles are rules that hinder critical thinking and can be dangerous. It is a complete straw man argument, there is no one who advocate that these principles should be viewed as absolute rules that should be followed blindly without critical thinking.

The most interesting and scary thing with Jeff's post are the comments, like:

"I'll tell you one thing, the Gang of Four book is probably one of my most disappointing programming reads of all time. Completely useless to me. Strange that I can have a successful programming career without understanding that book..."
Anyway, in Rob Conerey's response post there was this great comment by David Nelson in which he makes an analogy with chess rules:

"In chess there are a set of rules that are taught to every beginning player: a queen is worth three minor pieces, develop knights before bishops, always castle, etc. But as a player improves, he learns that these are not actually rules, they are generalities. Over the course of analyzing many hundreds of thousands of games, good players have discovered certain strategies that are more likely to lead to a winning position. But just because they are more likely to be better, doesn't mean they will always be better.

As a young player, I would often see an opportunity that I thought would lead to a quickly won game, by trying something other than what the "rules' would indicate. More often than not, I discovered that I was falling into a trap. Had I only followed the rules, I would have been better off. A player has to get very good before he can reliably understand when the rules don't apply.

The point is that just because I know that the rules don't always apply, doesn't mean that I should ignore them and go my own way. I have to factor in both my own experience, and the "rules", which are derived from the experience of thousands of players before me who were better than I am. And I have to weigh each of those factors appropriately. The better I get, the higher I can value my own experience. But even grandmasters work from a standard opening book.

I know of no other industry in the world where the craftsman are so strongly resistant to learning from the mistakes and lessons of those who have come before. I think that it is mostly the result of the technological boom in the last two decades; we haven't had time to develop the educational process to teach programmers what they need to know, but we need the warm bodies, so we will take anybody who will sign up. Even those who are ignorant and unwilling to actually learn what they're doing."

It is a great analogy, not that I know much about chess. I did read a book about chess strategy many years ago but can't say I remember much from it.  What I like about the analogy is the way it pictures guidelines and principles as a way to turn novice chess players into masters and how experience will eventually let you know the scenarios where the principles don’t apply. I also like the line “But even grandmasters work from a standard opening book” :)

For more comments, read Justin Etheredge response.

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