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The Best Software Writing I: Selected and Introduced by Joel Spolsky 1st ed. 2005. Corr. 2nd printing 2005 Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Myself, I'm not much on the article reprints. Granted, these are solid articles. But many can be found of the web and a book which could just as easily be implemented as a set of links on a web page with some annotations seems like a waste.
There are some jewels in here. In particular the Ruby introduction by "why the lucky stiff" which is just freaking awesome. Why APress decided to reprint his work as opposed to just get him to write a whole book is beyond me. He is a real talent in the world of engineer/authors. Especially given some of the competition, which from many proposals I have read have the writing skills of preschoolers on meth.
The topics in the book vary too widely for me to recommend this to any particular sub-group of engineer. These articles will be enjoyable to any career engineer who has a passion for the profession.
Joel Spolsky has gathered a number of blog entries, essays, and speeches that showcase (in his opinion) the best writings by software professionals. He feels (and I have to agree) that most programmers and developers will avoid writing at all cost, and as a result are not very good at it. You end up with either indecipherable ramblings or dry monotone typing that is akin to enduring some form of medieval torture. And I confess... I probably have strayed into both those areas a few too many times for the sanity of my readers. But by showcasing techno-geeks that can write coherently and with a touch of humor and entertainment, Spolsky hopes to raise the overall level of writing competency in the industry. I don't know if he'll be successful, but it definitely can't hurt...
Because the writings cover a wide range of topics, there's something for everyone. Or conversely, not everything will appeal to every reader. "Style Is Substance" by Ken Arnold is (for me) a great piece that advocates making programming style a built-in element of a language. Think of the time you'll save by killing off all style wars up front. The cartoon piece "Excel As A Database" will cause all developers to think Rory Blyth must work somewhere in their company with their users. And "A Quick (And Hopefully Painless) Ride Through Ruby (With Cartoon Foxes)" will, although rather strange, give you more information about Ruby in a shorter period of time than you ever thought possible. On the other hand, "A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy" by Clay Shirky was something I seemed to have to slog through.Read more ›
Joel on Software (his Web site slash blog) fans won't be disappointed in the selection of authors as they deal with the concepts he writes about on his site. Some readers may be expecting a book solely on software development. Even Spolsky's writings goes beyond this. Some folks might be disappointed that most of the articles, blog entries, speeches, and essays are available somewhere on the Web. I only recognize a few of the authors and their articles, so I would've never known about the others had I not found this book.
The essays cover a gamut of development-related topics. They include coding style, outsourcing programmers, dealing with Excel as a database, using social software (Friendster, LinkedIn, Tribe, and all that) and the things that are right and wrong withthese shared spaces, emerging digital rights, and defining the two-phase commit process a la Starbucks. Even a couple of them are nothing but comics. The one on Windows search makes me laugh.
The book also contains business-related essays that address a few problems affecting many companies -- namely team compensation and forced overtime which often spills over the weekend. Spolsky introduces every essay and includes notes clarifying abbreviations, names, or terms that aren't widely known.Read more ›
I've been a regular reader of Joel's site for many years, and many of the themes Joel has been writing about (social software, outsourcing, the dangers of measuring the performance of individuals using simple bug metrics, and sales and marketing of software) are reflected in the included essays.
Many of the authors have already published books of their own (Bruce Eckel, Paul Graham, Mary Poppendieck and Ron Jeffries come to mind), but regardless of whether they've been published before or not, the writing is consistently good. This isn't surprising, since according to the back cover, the goal of the book is to show-case good writing, and since Joel himself is a very good writer.
I had read a few of the essays before the book was published (and in the case of "Great Hackers" by Paul Graham, I had actually listen to it, thanks to ITConversations), but most of them were new to me. They cover a lot of different angles on software development, from how to format your code, to forced overtime.
The best essays in my opinion are "The Pitfalls of Outsourcing Programmers" (a short but well argued piece on why outsourcing many times isn't such a good idea), "Strong Typing vs. Strong Testing" (on the benefits of automatic unit tests) and "Style is Substance" (why not standardizing on one coding style - why not indeed).
Actually, as I look through the contents to pick which essays I liked the most, it is hard to choose. Many of them are really good.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you're interested in the business of software, Joel Spolsky is a name that should definitely be on your bookshelf. Read morePublished on March 28, 2013 by Sergey
It is very help for the software company!
If you can implement some of the tips, your company will change in deep I think!
As an application engineer it is easy to get stuck in a rut of doing things. The experience of the combined authors will shake things up for your brain. Read morePublished on March 15, 2010 by Nick
The articles in this book are on the whole, not that interesting. There is no logical flow between subjects, or even style of resulting. Read morePublished on August 3, 2009 by Mr. D. J. Nicholson
Little of value. Sold it almost immediately. His "Joel on Software," which I kept, is much more interesting.Published on May 29, 2009 by M. Jones
Amazingly, this book is a great read. Joel did an excellent job of picking out top-notch content. It is often funny (read Rory Blyth's post) and informative (read almost... Read morePublished on December 18, 2008 by Christopher Brandsma
Lot of my friends have already said enough about this book. So, don't hesitate to add this to your cart!Published on September 14, 2008 by Pd
This book is less to do with Joel and his own writing, but more to do with the wonderful writing of others. Read morePublished on June 7, 2008 by Carl Joseph
There really are some good essays in this book, though a few of them are a little boring, and a lot of them really don't have anything to do with software development. Read morePublished on April 28, 2008 by C. Burnley