[racket] Whither ProfessorJ

From: Matthias Felleisen (matthias at ccs.neu.edu)
Date: Tue Jan 17 08:27:21 EST 2012

On Jan 17, 2012, at 8:13 AM, Tom Maynard wrote:

> On 1/17/2012 6:17 AM, Matthias Felleisen wrote:
>> http://www.ccs.neu.edu/home/matthias/htdc.html
> This may or may not be amusing, but I was working backwards (chronologically) from this starting point.
> Was it the language, or the book, that went astray?  I mean, I guess I don't understand why it has been abandoned.

When I wrote the book (originally: how to design class hierarchies), I assumed I needed teaching languages for Java (because of the switch from Lisp-style syntax to 'ugly' syntax) and that the team could guarantee this level of support, ideally within DrRacket (neé DrScheme). Over the years it became clear that this couldn't be done for various reasons. 

For the book itself, I now think I took the wrong approach. While it is theoretically arranged properly -- especially the decision to model information with class based data w/o creating methods -- it doesn't suit the psychology of most students and teachers. After I suspended work on the book, Shriram and Kathi (Fisler) pointed out that the book should not start with simple recursive information as data but with trees and forests to bring home the point about design. Certain kinds of students otherwise point out that Java comes with Vectors and Arrays and that these could be used for the same representation (with some tricks and tweaks).  

So for now the book is available on the web and teachers are welcome to use it with standard Java (plus some hints that the book's language omits silly keywords). 

-- Matthias

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