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The Best Software Writing I: Selected and Introduced by Joel Spolsky Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-1590595008 ISBN-10: 1590595009 Edition: 1st

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The Best Software Writing I: Selected and Introduced by Joel Spolsky + More Joel on Software: Further Thoughts on  Diverse and Occasionally Related Matters That Will Prove of Interest to Software Developers, Designers, ... or Ill Luck, Work with Them in Some Capacity + Joel on Software: And on Diverse and Occasionally Related Matters That Will Prove of Interest to Software Developers, Designers, and Managers, and to Those Who, Whether by Good Fortune or Ill Luck, Work with Them in Some Capacity
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Apress; 1 edition (June 29, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590595009
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590595008
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #432,244 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Joel Spolsky is a globally recognized expert on the software development process. His web site Joel on Software (JoelonSoftware.com) is popular with software developers around the world and has been translated into over 30 languages. As the founder of Fog Creek Software in New York City, he created FogBugz, a popular project management system for software teams. Joel has worked at Microsoft, where he designed Visual Basic for Applications as a member of the Excel team, and at Juno Online Services, developing an Internet client used by millions. He has written two books: User Interface Design for Programmers (Apress, 2001) and Joel on Software (Apress, 2004). Joel holds a bachelor's of science degree in computer science�from Yale University. Before college, he served in the Israeli Defense Forces as a paratrooper, and he was one of the founders of Kibbutz Hanaton.

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Customer Reviews

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This book is easy to read, light, humorous, and thought provoking.
Adam Kahtava
These essays, depending on the subject, will have greater or lesser value for you.
Brett Merkey
And I like the fact that you can start almost anywhere in the book and read.
Christopher Brandsma

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Duff HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 20, 2005
Format: Paperback
I recently received a copy of The Best Software Writing I by Joel Spolsky. As with his other book, it's an entertaining read with a number of enlightening insights into what I do for a living...

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.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Jack D. Herrington on August 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
Oh yeah, another Joel Spolsky book, just in time for... wha? It's only edited by Joel? Yep. This is a collection of article reprints, some without any editing or reformatting, with small introductions by Joel at the top of each article. That doesn't mean that the book is bad. It just means you need to know what you are getting for your dollars.

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.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Meryl K. Evans on September 25, 2005
Format: Paperback
Having been in process management in a software organization for over ten years, I've seen too many articles and books on the topic that worked better than Valium for putting me to sleep especially since they have no side effects. Many say Joel Spolsky is one of the best writers on the topic of software. However, in this book he stands aside and lets others demonstrate that he isn't the only one who can write about software in English and captivate you.

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.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Henrik Warne on August 3, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a collection of 29 essays about software development, selected and introduced by Joel Spolsky (of Joel on Software fame).

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.
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