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Seven Languages in Seven Weeks: A Pragmatic Guide to Learning Programming Languages (Pragmatic Programmers) Paperback – November 20, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-1934356593 ISBN-10: 193435659X Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: Pragmatic Programmers
  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Pragmatic Bookshelf; 1 edition (November 20, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 193435659X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934356593
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 7.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #225,154 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"I have been programming for 25 years in a variety of hardware and software languages. After reading Seven Languages in Seven Weeks, I am starting to understand how to evaluate languages for their objective strengths and weaknesses. More importantly, I feel as if I could pick one of them to actually get some work done."

—Chris Kappler, Senior scientist Raytheon, BBN Technologies

"I spent most of my time as a computer sciences student saying I didn’t want to be a software developer and then became one anyway. Seven Languages in Seven Weeks expanded my way of thinking about problems and reminded me what I love about programming."

—Travis Kaspar, Software engineer, Northrop Grumman

"Do you want seven kick starts into learning your “language of the year”? Do you want your thinking challenged about programming in general? Look no further than this book. I personally was taken back in time to my undergraduate computer science days, coasting through my programming languages survey course. The difference is that Bruce won’t let you coast through this course! This isn’t a leisurely read—you’ll have to work this book. I believe you’ll find it both mindblowing and intensely practical at the same time."

—Matt Stine Group leader, Research Application Development, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

About the Author

Bruce Tate runs RapidRed, an Austin, TX-based practice that consults on lightweight development in Ruby. Previously he worked at IBM in roles ranging from a database systems programmer to Java consultant. He left IBM to work for several startups in roles ranging from Client Solutions Director to CTO. He speaks internationally and is the author of more than ten books, including From Java to Ruby, Deploying Rails Applications, the best-selling Bitter series, Beyond Java, and the Jolt-winning Better, Faster, Lighter Java.


More About the Author

I started in this industry back in 1985, as a co-op with IBM in Austin. I joined IBM full time in 1987, and spent 13 years with them. I later left to join a startup, and ultimately started my own business where I focus on helping customers build software with lightweight technologies.

I've been writing technical books for more than 10 years now, with the last 7 coming since 2000. I write for the love of the craft.

Others have told me that my fundamental strength as an author is the ability to quickly recognize emerging trends. I do tend to find emerging frameworks just as they become popular, and that skill is a mixed blessing that--combined with my complete lack of political tact--gets me in trouble sometimes, as it did with Bitter Java (Java is too hard), Beyond Java (Java is not going to last forever), and most recently, From Java to Ruby: Things Every Manager should Know (there's a better language for some problems, but our managers don't know it yet.)

My promise to you is this: I will always seek to find better ways to do things, and will work hard to tell you the truth, without regard for any notion of political correctness. Thanks for reading.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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And it's a fun book to read.
David J. Anderson
A good intro to several different languages and reasons why you should try using different languages.
Karl P. Henselin
I suspect that this will prove to be true.
Harold Johnson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

183 of 187 people found the following review helpful By MedIT VINE VOICE on November 8, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Background: I stumbled across the author's blog post announcing his intention to write the book while looking for materials comparing language paradigms instead of particular languages (object-oriented, logical, functional, prototype, etc). The as yet unwritten book sounded like exactly what I was after (thus my enthusiastic anticipation). I purchased an electronic copy of this book from the Prag Press beta program about six months ago and began reading the chapters as they were completed and released. My paper copy just arrived from Amazon today. Thus I can comment on the whole content of the book and the physical object.

Languages: While the languages covered (Ruby, Io, Prolog, Scala, Erlang, Clojure, Haskell) are excitingly (painfully?) trendy the list is not without merit. In the introduction the author explains that he arrived at the list by asking readers and edited from there: swapping Io for JavaScript and excluding Python thereby making room for Prolog. One could debate the choice of Io over JavaScript (particularly in a post Node.js / Common.js world) and make a case for including Smalltalk as the canonical OO language over Ruby; however, the chosen languages each bring something to the book and represent a number of interesting paradigms.

Chapters: Each language has its own chapter. Each chapter has five sections:
- an introduction to the language covering topics like it's history, place in the modern language landscape, paradigm, etc
- 'Day 1'
- 'Day 2'
- 'Day 3'
- and a conclusion with a few parting words / 'the moral of the story is...'.
The boundaries between days are not particularly meaningful but roughly build from "here's the syntax" to "here's an interesting thing you can do with this paradigm".
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57 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Brian L. on June 25, 2011
Format: Paperback
I was very disappointed in this book. I could have attain a similar level of depth with fewer unnecessary film-based analogies by reading each langauges' wikipedia page.

The author focuses heavily on syntax, program structure, and how common things are represented in each language, what the REPL, looks like in each case, etc. There many belabored explanations of well-understood language-agnostic concepts like prototypes, actors, futures, recursion, laziness, and immutability. Zero of these languages are interesting because of how lists work yet the book laboriously visits this example over and over. Similarly, only one or two of the languages has truly interesting things to say about concurrency, but he discusses concurrency over and over.

Each of these languages has made important contributions to the field of programming language design and culture. This is where the time should be spent--not developing a familiarity with basics like syntax and list operations. If I want to know what the code is going to look like visually, I can use wikipedia.

For instance, a core idea behind prolog is unification. The author gives lots of examples of prolog code, but fails to explain at any level of detail the theoretical basis for unification or how it works. I don't have a prolog background, and when I sat down to read the chapter, I hoped to come away with a basic working understanding of the concepts. All I ended up with is some ideas of how prolog is used and what it feels like at the surface of its syntax/semantics.

One of the most interesting things in Io is the combination of an unusually transparent message-passing discipline with a mutable syntax tree.
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62 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Dmitry Dvoinikov on March 17, 2011
Format: Paperback
The idea is good - have a brief overview of several programming languages that gather most curiosity in the community. The languages that made it to the book were chosen by the people the author asked beforehand.

Each language is given 3 days worth of chapters. First day is for a = b, second is for [a] = [b] and the third is for "real stuff". About two thirds of the book are therefore dedicated to simple variable assignments, number literals, containers (lists mostly), and control structures such as if's.

And herein lies the problem - although great to know that in language X assignment goes like

console> plz let a be 1
a nowz 1!!!oneone
console>

but what does it tell about the language ?

---QUOTE---
I'm confident that this material will capture the spirit of each programming language pretty well...
---/QUOTE---

I don't think it happened. It would be possible if the author had spent years working in each one. This is not the case, the author had learned the languages himself, took a bite and now explains the fullness and richness of taste. There is no trick here, the author is not pretending he is an expert in everything. All this is clearly admitted upfront. On the other hand a lot is required from the reader too. You are expected to give each individual language a try. Otherwise

---QUOTE---
If you simply read this book, you'll experience the flavour of the syntax and no more.
---/QUOTE---

Exactly what happened to me. None of the seven languages made me curious because of this book. I was curious about erlang before and I still am. I saw something beautiful behind haskell and I still do. The languages I haven't seen before, I'm as unsure about now as I was before.
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