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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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Top Customer Reviews
At several points, Joel rails against the false economies of making code smaller and sniggers at the people to whom it matters so much, then (ch 39) he rails against the size of a Microsoft runtime support package. He also points out that antialiased fonts, other than things like headlines, are a bad idea. That was already common knowledge around DEC by about 1980, since the visibly blurred margins of characters led to eyestrain as the focussing muscles fruitlessly tried to find the edge. Modern display technology with far smaller pixel sizes seems to have reversed that decision, however, except possibly at the smallest character sizes - a blow-up of a screen capture will often show antialiasing on body text that looks quite good. If he came on a bit less strong to start with, these annoyances would be a lot less annying.
Joel's incredibly high opinion of Joel wore on me after a while. Despite all the good in this book, I had to drag myself through the last half of his pontifications, repetition, and tendency towards the absolute. If you're already a fan of his other writing, that might not bother you. For me, Joel, in his role as high priest in the cult of Joel, became tiresome. I'm sure he's a skilled developer and savvy business man, but I really don't think I'd enjoy meeting him.
There are a lot of books and web sites on how business, software, computers and programming should be conducted. Most fail to understand the basics of what they are talking about because the writer has a theory that he thinks will solve everything. But the theory takes on a life of its own, and becomes more important than observed reality. Just the trap many political, religious and self-help demagogues fall into. They become pie-in-the-sky dreamers and less attached to normal life.
He seems to have a similar, if slightly younger perspective, on the field as Richard P. Gabriel who wrote his now famous "Worse is Better" essay about 10-15 years ago. Another writer/programmer he reminds me of is Paul Graham.
Others I would compare him too, though each if very different in their own ways, are the writings and blog of Wil Wheaton, The Cluetrain Manifesto, and the rants of Fred on Everything (Fred Reed), Jerry Pournelle's Chaos Manor, and much that appears on /.Slashdot.
Joel has not tried to generalize his very specific observations into a unified whole theory of all programming and computer management. But that doesn't prevent you, the home reader, from making those generalizations yourself. You may have to prevent yourself from thinking too much of it, least the Law of Leaky Abstractions take over. Joel gives one a good place to start.
I've used his "Law of Leaky Abstractions" in discussions I had many times.Read more ›
A first glance at this book might give you the impression that Joel Spolsky is another bloging cynic with more opinion then experience. But don't be fooled. Joel is a very smart guy and this book is a great read. You probably won't agree with everything he says, I don't, but this book really makes you think.
An old coach of mine (Tony Blauer) told the "Good information doesn't displace OTHER good information."
Considering opinions that are the same as our own is far less valuable than opinions that differ from our own. Joel's book is full of opinions that have "growth opportunity.
Really good writers make you think. According to the chief blogger on my team at Microsoft (Rory Blyth) a great blogger is at least a but controversial, they not only make you think, they make you want to respond. Joel is on my short list of bloggers in aggregator.
The book is basically a collection of Joel's writing originally published on his blog at [...] though this is not his first book. As near as I can tell the writings span a time frame from 2000 to 2004.
Joel is an interesting guy, the kind of guy you'd love to debate. He was an Israeli paratrooper went to Yale, worked at Microsoft for a few years then Juno, and now owns Fog Creek Software in New York.
To begin with, the book is a FUN. Joel's casual writing style is almost conversational and makes for a read that's more like listening to a story than reading a manual. I read it cover to cover in two days.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A bit outdated since now web and mobile is taking over but still super interesting lessons to be learned. Also a pleasure to readPublished 20 months ago by Rodolfo A. Rodriguez
Excellent book! Maybe you'll think it's out of date but it's not! A lot of important things for every developer that is becoming manager appears in the book, in an amusingly way! Read morePublished 22 months ago by Rafael Souza Nader
Refreshing and relevant reading material for any tired code warrior who constantly asks "I can't be the only one suffering from ____" dysfunctions. Read morePublished on August 11, 2014 by S. Sankaranarayanan
A little dated at this point but the content is, for the most part, timeless. It is rare I agree with most of the points in a book anymore. I did in this case. Read morePublished on August 1, 2014 by Will Tartak
I've had this book on my shelf for a couple of years and finally tackled it and I'm so glad I did. I give the book an 8 out of 10 (or 4 Amazon stars). Read morePublished on February 10, 2014 by Jason Tanner
If you have been programming for more than 5 or 6 years or so then you are already party to a great deal of the very valuable wisdom that is imparted by this book. Read morePublished on December 25, 2013 by T. Lewis
Perfect for someone looking for answers to some of the most important questions in development business. Read morePublished on December 22, 2013 by Vasiliy
As a Project Manager in environmental engineering, I got much more out of this work than I do many of the texts standard to my profession. Read morePublished on September 5, 2013 by Eric Seitz