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Making Software: What Really Works, and Why We Believe It 1st Edition
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About the Author
Andy Oram is an editor at O'Reilly Media, a highly respected book publisher and technology information provider. An employee of the company since 1992, Andy currently specializes in free software and open source technologies. His work for O'Reilly includes the first books ever published commercially in the United States on Linux, and the 2001 title Peer-to-Peer. His modest programming and system administration skills are mostly self-taught.
Greg Wilson has worked on high-performance scientific computing, data visualization, and computer security, and is currently project lead at Software Carpentry (http://software-carpentry.org). Greg has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Edinburgh, and has written and edited several technical and children's books, including "Beautiful Code" (O'Reilly, 2007).
Top customer reviews
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Okay, I don't think that actually convinced you to buy this book, so I should explain why. Let me start by asking a question: is code duplication - copy-pasting code - a bad practice? Most people would say yes. Question two: does the flue vaccine protect you from the flu? Again, most people would say yes. Final question: which of the two are you more confident in? "Vaccinations work" is backed up by rigorous studies and controlled trials. "Code duplication is bad" is backed up by anecdotes and common sense.
It's also wrong. Godfrey and Kasper have tentatively found that in many cases, code duplication leads to more correct and maintainable code than practicing DRY or adding abstractions. Trusting our common sense is seductive but easily leads us astray. Belief without empirical evidence is just faith.
Unfortunately, researching software engineering is extremely challenging. Challenging enough that many of us programmers think it's impossible. And many of us who think it's possible also think it doesn't affect us, that there's not much we can learn about our day-to-day jobs. _Making Software_ is about the research and why it matters. The first five chapters are about how software research is done, especially how we compensate for the complexities of the field. The rest of the book are papers about specific topics. The papers cover a wide range of research methods, so you can see how researchers use ethnographies, data mining, etc. It shows that software research can, in fact, be done.
This would make it worth reading for fans of the field. What really makes the book stellar is how much conventional wisdom the papers break. Group code review is a waste of time. Open plans are (sometimes) more productive than private offices. Up-front architecture beats extreme programming. And copy-paste sometimes beats DRY. Of course, you're free to argue with any conclusions you disagree with. Every paper helpfully includes the threats to validity, so you know the weaknesses and limitations of the paper. But we have to be careful when doing so, because we're the ones without evidence.
If you are at all interested in the empirical side of software engineering, you should read this book. 0 out of 5.
The editors of this book do a great job of explaining what we can and can not expect from research. They also adopt a very pragmatic mindset, taking the point of view that appropriate practice is highly contextual. Research can provide us with evidence, but not necessarily conclusions.
Beyond the philosophical underpinnings, 'Making Software' outlines research results in a variety of areas. It gives you plenty to think about when considering various approaches on your team. The chapter 'How Effective is Modularization?' is worth the price of the book alone.
I recommend this book for anyone who wants to learn how to think rigorously about practice.
Making Software presents to each chapter a good experience for software industry and professionals in this area.
I recomend it for academics and professionals.
It would be a 5 star if someone like Steve McConnell had taken the entire contents of the book and written a single coherent text from it. As it is the quality of writing and explanations varies a lot from article to article. For example, in some of the articles the authors decide to show us the code or the SQL statements used to extract data. I found this distracting (who cares how they pulled data from a database?) because I wanted to get to the meat of each piece. I suspect the book could be 1/2 to 2/3 the size it is today with a rewrite.
Despite my reservations this is a very worthwhile book. If you sit down to read it you'll likely find it hard going in places: it's dense and detailed. But that goes somewhat with the territory. This isn't a book about evangelizing the latest development fad, it's about hard data on what does and does not work in software engineering.
Refreshing, if a bit long.
Most recent customer reviews
The kindle version of this book is very sloppy.Read more