May 2005 Archives

A Gift to be Simple


Thomas Jay Peckish II was asked to write the following biography for Ralph Johnson for the forthcoming Pattern Languages of Program Design 5 Book. Peckish really was in Louisiana at the time, on a fine Sunday morning...

Ralph Johnson was born in the Panama Canal Zone, the son of a missionary doctor. He grew up to be one of the object-oriented community's best known, and most effective evangelists.

During the '80s as an early, and often lone, voice in the software engineering wilderness, he was instrumental in launching a Smalltalk revival in the academic community. His early missives on object-oriented reuse and framework design are still read today.

In 1994, he collaborated with three other equally gifted, and inspired, evangelists to produce an enduring testament to the power of the object-oriented community's collective wisdom: Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software.

Like his father before him, Ralph, too, is a doctor, having received his PhD in Computer Science from Cornell University in 1985. It was not enough that his book provided a roadmap, an inspirational vision, for code redemption. Dr. Johnson also set about the task of providing the instruments, the tools to help ailing code to get better. The first practical refactoring tools, and the underlying doctrine to support them, were first promulgated by Ralph and his disciples during the early and mid '90s.

Ralph lives in Champaign, Illinois with his wife Faith, his children Joy, Grace, and Caleb, and their dog, Shirley. He works at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

--Deacon Thomas Jay Peckish II
Nicholson Rd. Church of Polymorphism, Baton Rouge, LA

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