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Thinking Forth Paperback – December 27, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Thinking Forth is a book about the philosophy of problem solving and programming style, applied to the unique programming language Forth. Published first in 1984, it could be among the timeless classics of computer books, such as Fred Brooks' The Mythical Man-Month and Donald Knuth's The Art of Computer Programming.

Many software engineering principles discussed here have been rediscovered in eXtreme Programming, including (re)factoring, modularity, bottom-up and incremental design. Here you'll find all of those and more, such as the value of analysis and design, described in Leo Brodie's down-to-earth, humorous style, with illustrations, code examples, practical real life applications, illustrative cartoons, and interviews with Forth's inventor, Charles H. Moore as well as other Forth thinkers.

If you program in Forth, this is a must-read book. If you don't, the fundamental concepts are universal: Thinking Forth is meant for anyone interested in writing software to solve problems. The concepts go beyond Forth, but the simple beauty of Forth throws those concepts into stark relief.

You'll learn all about the philosophy of Forth, analysis, decomposition, problem solving, style and conventions, factoring, handling data, and minimizing control structures. But be prepared: you may not be able to put it down.

This book has been scanned, OCR'd, typeset in LATEX, and brought back to print (and your monitor) by a collaborative effort under a Creative Commons license.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Preface Programming computers can be crazy-making. Other professions give you the luxury of seeing tangible proof of your efforts. A watchmaker can watch the cogs and wheels; a seamstress can watch the seams come together with each stitch. But programmers design, build, and repair the stuff of imagination, ghostly mechanisms that escape the senses. Our work takes place not in RAM, not in an editor, but within our own minds.

Building models in the mind is both the challenge and the joy of programming. How should we prepare for it? Arm ourselves with better debuggers, decompilers, and disassemblers? They help, but our most essential tools and techniques are mental. We need a consistent and practical methodology for thinking about software problems. That is what I have tried to capture in this book. Thinking Forth is meant for anyone interested in writing software to solve problems. It focuses on design and implementation; deciding what you want to accomplish, designing the components of the system, and finally building the program.

The book stresses the importance of writing programs that not only work, but that are also readable, logical, and that express the best solution in the simplest terms.

Although most of the principles described here can be applied to any language, I've presented them in the context of Forth. Forth is a language, an operating system, a set of tools, and a philosophy. It is an ideal means for thinking because it corresponds to the way our minds work. Thinking Forth is thinking simple, thinking elegant, thinking flexible. It is not restrictive, not complicated, not over-general. You don't have to know Forth to benefit from this book. Thinking Forth synthesizes the Forth approach with many principles taught by modern computer science. The marriage of Forth's simplicity with the traditional disciplines of analysis and style will give you a new and better way to look at software problems and will be helpful in all areas of computer application.

If you want to learn more about Forth, another book of mine, Starting Forth, covers the language aspects of Forth. Otherwise, Appendix A of this book introduces Forth fundamentals.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Punchy Publishing (December 27, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0976458705
  • ISBN-13: 978-0976458708
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #771,284 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Leo Brodie is the author of Starting Forth and Thinking Forth. He is currently employed as Director of Technical Services for NetSpeed Learning Solutions in Seattle. He is married and the father of three children. He has released a CD of his own music called "Across The Years", available here on Amazon.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Herman Jackson on June 29, 2003
Format: Paperback
As a teacher/programmer I found this to be a phenomenal piece of work. One of the hottest items in programming today is refactoring - it's here. Object orientation, modularity, top-down, bottom-up, it's all here. You can't read this book without becomming a better programmer regardless of the language. But you don't want to just read it. Work through the examples, follow the logic until you understand it - really understand it. You don't use Forth? Doesn't matter. The principles of problem analysis and good program construction are language independent. Try this one - you'll like it. Learning to function in the sparce yet luxuriant Forth universe will change the way you program.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
Thinking FORTH is as much about philosophy of problem solving and programming style as FORTH. Concepts presented in this '84 publication were light years ahead of their time. OOPs concepts, including data encapsulation, modularity and overloading are explained in simple understandable terms (although with different terminology). Emphisis is on eligance, flexibility and reusability, written in Leo Brodie's unique style. (NO YOU CAN'T HAVE MINE!)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Andre Adrian on February 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
I read Starting Forth back in the 1980s. It did serve me very well to become the Senior Engineer that I am today. If you ever owned a HP pocket calculator as I did, the postfix notation of Forth is no problem for you. If you ever have to write a compiler, as I did for my thesis, you will acknowledge that the Forth compiler is the most simple compiler. Understanding this compiler helps to understand all compilers for imperative programming languages.
The concept of coarse top-down-design, an iterative series of bottom-up implementations with growing functionality and tests on every level of development IS the proper road to write high quality software in short time. Call it Extreme Programming, call it Test Driven Development or just call it "what I did learn from Starting Forth" - after reading and learning this the first time, you will never forget it.
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