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

by Joel Spolsky
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 29, 2005 1590595009 978-1590595008 1
It's nice having a collection of high-quality writing related to software and the business in one place instead of trawling the Web for it. Meryl K. Evans, meryl. entertaining read with a number of enlightening insights into what I do for a living... The whole book is fantastic though, and you should absolutely pick it dead tree form. This is a book worth checking out, even if you're not a software developer.

With a nod to both the serious and funny sides of technical writing, The Best Software Writing I: Selected and Introduced by Joel Spolsky is an entertaining read and a guide to the technical writing literati.

The Best Software Writing contains writings from:

  • Ken Arnold
  • Leon Bambrick
  • Michael Bean
  • Rory Blyth
  • Adam Bosworth
  • danah boyd
  • Raymond Chen
  • Kevin Cheng and Tom Chi
  • Cory Doctorow
  • ea_spouse
  • Bruce Eckel
  • Paul Ford
  • Paul Graham
  • John Gruber
  • Gregor Hohpe
  • Ron Jeffries
  • Eric Johnson
  • Eric Lippert
  • Michael Lopp
  • Larry Osterman
  • Mary Poppendieck
  • Rick Schaut
  • Aaron Swart
  • Clay Shirky
  • Eric Sink
  • why the lucky stiff

  • Frequently Bought Together

    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
    Price for all three: $54.75

    Buy the selected items together

    Editorial Reviews

    About the Author

    Joel Spolsky is a globally recognized expert on the software development process. His web site Joel on Software ( 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.

    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: #485,667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

    More About the Authors

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    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars How software geeks should write... August 20, 2005
    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
    4.0 out of 5 stars Another Joel book, sweet. Or not. August 4, 2005
    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
    4.0 out of 5 stars We need more writing on software-related topics like these September 25, 2005
    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
    4.0 out of 5 stars Many gems in this varied mix 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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    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    5.0 out of 5 stars joel is smart and insightful
    If you're interested in the business of software, Joel Spolsky is a name that should definitely be on your bookshelf. Read more
    Published 13 months ago by Sergey
    5.0 out of 5 stars Good guide
    It is very help for the software company!
    If you can implement some of the tips, your company will change in deep I think!
    Published 16 months ago by LIUGANNING
    5.0 out of 5 stars For programmers who need to smooth a few rough edges
    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 more
    Published on March 15, 2010 by Nick
    2.0 out of 5 stars Dissapointing when compared to Joel's previous books
    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 more
    Published on August 3, 2009 by Mr. D. J. Nicholson
    2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing. Skip it.
    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
    5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
    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 more
    Published on December 18, 2008 by Christopher Brandsma
    5.0 out of 5 stars Must read...sorry must practice
    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
    4.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful collection
    This book is less to do with Joel and his own writing, but more to do with the wonderful writing of others. Read more
    Published on June 7, 2008 by Carl Joseph
    2.0 out of 5 stars Would be better if Joel's ego didn't get in the way
    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 more
    Published on April 28, 2008 by C. Burnley
    5.0 out of 5 stars A compilation of some of the best thinking
    There are a core set of principles about software development that can either be learned from years of making painful mistakes or by learning of the mistakes of others. Read more
    Published on January 6, 2008 by Nathan Allan
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