Customer Review

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars as good as everyone says it is, October 21, 2006
This review is from: Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction, Second Edition (Paperback)
Code Complete pops up regularly on the lists of the 'read this book or you'll never get a job and everyone else will laugh at you' genre, so if you're easily influenced, like me, you may approach this book with an air of duty rather than anticipation. Fortunately, despite its heft, this is well worth the plaudits that have been heaped upon it. I actually enjoyed this more than The Pragmatic Programmer and Programming Pearls, two books often mentioned in the same breath as this tome.

CC covers pretty much every part of the software development lifecycle, from planning to code reviews to testing. These are all pretty good discussions, but the best bit is definitely the chapters on coding. Most of the examples are in Visual Basic or Java, so you'd do well to know one of those languages.

When it comes to object modelling, there's actually a reasonable set of guidelines harvestable from literature, and languages tend to diverge more on issues of packaging, so CC is at its best at the lower level procedural details of code layout, formatting, loop construction, optimisation and so on. Many books claim to provide coding guidelines, but don't do much beyond stating the obvious like (for Java) "use camel case for variable names", "start class names with capital letters" and "avoid Hungarian notation". CC is different because it actually provides useful recommendations. As an example, there's a very good discussion on when and where the use of loop-breaking constructs like break and continue ('next' in Ruby and Perl) are appropriate. Few (if any) other books provide this sort of practical detail.

It's well-written, with just the right amount of humour in its exhortations - the withering references to coders who investigate loop bugs by randomly adjusting the termination criterion up or down by one until it works raised a wry smile from this reviewer.

To summarise, this is a collection of best practices distilled from a pretty huge amount of reading, and is genuinely helpful. I would certainly point any programming beginner at this book.
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