Wednesday, September 28, 2005

a-real-book-review dept.

I am currently reading the book The Best Software Writing I (ed. Joel Spolsky). The editor is of course, a high profile blogger and code-philosopher. The book is organized around the same topics that the editor deals with in his blogs i.e. software processes, defining product quality, some hiring heuristics, lifestyle issues for coders and a bit of business sense thrown in for good measure. And of course the outsourcees. Grrrr...The outsourcees...Those evil-smelling, foul-talking, gibberish-spelling spineless serfs from the nameless land. I was thinking of Chaplin's "Der Juden" rant as Adenoid Hynkel in The Great Dictator. If you haven't seen it, its the greatest impression ever. Actually, those are the kind of subjective statements you are likely to find in this book.

But its eminently readable, and some of it even makes sense.

However be warned: it is written from the coders' perspective. Which means that the world-view this book reflects belongs to people who spend 90% of their working time (which may be 90% of their actual waking time :-)) hunched over their monitors furiously assaulting their keyboards - and the remaining 10% being assaulted by the QA and marketing teams in meetings about bug fixes and product specifications. So expect a whiny-ass tone and lines like "A good manager should...blah, blah, blah...".

There are no conclusive answers to some of the social questions raised, only vague solutions like "hire developers, not programmers". Hmmm...and why and how do people make the transition between these two extremes? There are vague indicators, but again, most of the solutions proffered by the book take the form: "you either do or you don't". Not a very scientific approach, if you ask me.


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The Shaolin said...

Hey Anshuman, nice and informative post. I do follow up Joel Spolsky's blog.
Thanks for sharing your reveiw about The Best Software Writing. You have definitely sparked my desire to read the book more!
Is there are chance I can borrow your copy when you are done?

W0lf said...

Hey, Thanks for reading my blog.
Although it looks like I hated the book, it was actually quite entertaining. I just thought many essays raise deep questions, but offer shallow solutions.
But the book is probably not worth buying, since all of the articles included in it are available online.

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