Friday, October 24, 2008

[Misc] Two new interesting SE books out

Recently two fresh books fell into my hands:

  1. The Productive Programmer, Neal Ford, 978-0596519780
  2. Clean Code, Robert C. Martin, 978-0132350884
The first book is a very ambivalent one.

Pros: It covers a wide range of areas how to be more productive. And so you can find topics like ACCERLERATION, FOCUS, AUTOMATION, Test-Diven Design, Code Analyse, up to very philosophical points. The real strong point of this book is that it has several dozen important points most programmers really forget about in their daily work. Each point might be trivial when analyzed in isolation. But to gather all productive points is a worthy issue. And even some principles as SLAP (already covered by Beck) can not be explained often enough.

Cons: The content really leaves a very diced impression. You can find the same information at several places in the book (like the "magic" unix find) and some points of uninteresting information like his words to Reflection, Exceptions, Array Indices and some flame about EJB 2 (really 2!). And thus it's not astonishing that this book gets only two stars on

But nevertheless: even if the book is a mixed work, if you adhere to 80% of the good rules, you will be a massively better programmer.

2. The Clean Code (subtitle: handbook of agile craftsmanship) is more a real work of craftsmanship itself. The idea is the same as for the book beautiful code I recently reviewed here. Martin has found smart authors for each chapters. And the chapters are:
  • Meaningful Names (! which is a horror in big companies with developers from different cultural and technical backgrounds to my opinion...)
  • Functions
  • Comments (you think you can not learn here?)
  • Formatting (sounds boring but is not) and
  • Error Handling, Boundaries, Unit Tests, Classes, Systems, Emergence, Concurrency, Successive Refinement, JUnit Internals, and more...
It closes with a catalog of smells and heuristics which is a little like the one we had in the Fowler refactoring book but nevertheless of great use.

Robert C. Martins Clean Code Book differs from the rest because there is a lot code in it. And a lot code that migrates from bad to good. You really feel while reading that the authors have invested in strong code examples. This makes it a really valuable resource to read. So it has my strong recommendation.

To conclude: These two books, combined with all the Fowlers and Becks (not the beer...) lead me to create a catalog of all the useful points they have written. It is still small and in beta state. But you are invited to use, contribute or link to this growing list of best practices.

So God bless all (most of?) the software developers!
(who read these books ;-)


JanL said...

How does Clean Code compare to McConnel's Code Complete?

igor said...

What is SLAP?