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The Art of Readable Code Paperback – Nov 26 2011
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Simple and Practical Techniques for Writing Better Code
About the Author
Although raised in the circus, Dustin Boswell realized early on that he was better at computers than at acrobatics. Dustin received his B.S. from CalTech, where he got hooked on Computer Science, and then went to UC San Diego for his Master's Degree. He worked at Google for five years, on a variety of projects including web crawling infrastructure. Dustin is now an internet startup junkie who spends his free time hiking the Santa Monica mountains and being a new dad.
Trevor Foucher has been shipping software projects for over 10 years, including Windows 2000 and OneCare at Microsoft, and Webmaster Tools at Google. He's been an individual contributor, manager, and tech lead. His goal is to make code more readable and reliable.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Along comes "The Art of Readable Code". The authors have written a very enjoyable, highly readable book about readability. They go beyond simply stating a set of guidelines, instead explaining the motivation behind each suggestion. I love that they show both good and bad from-the-field examples of how programmers write code. I found myself nodding in agreement with much of what they said. I also think they do a much better job than I when it comes to explaining that readable code is not simply a set of requirements to follow, but that there are simple compelling reasons behind readability, not the least of which is to make life easier for others who will read your code.
I have decided that I will begin making this a required reference for my students. Our school subscribes to Safari Online Books, which gives our students free access to O'Reilly books such as this one. Even if my students couldn't get it for free, I think it's a book I would want our computer science/software engineering majors to have handy as a reference. I bought the Kindle edition for myself, and found that it is very readable on the Kindle Fire...and much more relaxing to read this way than from the Safari site (and currently only about half the cost of buying the physical book).
From now on, I will let this book deliver the message to my students about readable code.
Other reviewers have described this book as introductory, offering nothing new. Well, the book is not rocket science, but it makes a great case for practices that should be followed but usually aren't. I'm a programmer; I've worked at many software start-ups, and what I see all too often is brittle code, gazillion-line methods, god classes, and pointless tight coupling.
Also, the authors introduce a notion of an economy or budget of mental effort: if what should be simple to understand is a chore, then it is going to be easy to miss problems in the tough stuff. Across the board, the authors articulate compelling cases for doing things the right way, which could be handy for discussions with your colleagues and boss.
Finally, the concrete coding example at the book's end should be educational for even experienced programmers.
It's well-planned, written and edited. Not too long (184 pages) and the cartoons don't get in the way, and even occasionally add value. I admired the way that the authors recognized a few classic flame-war subjects, made their opinions known and then moved right along. I think the examples for each idea are all good ones.
I recommend reading it with a body of code in mind, so you can think about live examples of all the issues that the authors raise.
Disclaimer: I requested a copy of this book from O'Reilly so I could review it.
This collection of solid programming advice is bolstered by numerous code examples in several mainstream programming languages, yet is presented at a level which is accessible to a broad audience. Whether a student needing guidance, a novice programmer, or a more experienced programmer who could use a reminder about good practices the reader is certain to glean valuable tips which will help him or her write better code. The authors are successful in creating an easy and fun read which can either be traversed cover to cover or selectively, with the help of the contents pages and index. Supplemented with expressive cartoons and quotations (including Yoda!), each chapter concludes with concise summaries which embody the key principles presented. A further reading list is also provided.
As a self-taught intermediate programmer, reading this book has helped me identify some areas in which I could make my existing code better. The authors draw attention to warning signs that code is not as easy to understand as it could be. I only wish that I had encountered this sage advice several years earlier before developing coding habits which need correcting. The success of Boswell and Foucher in their endeavor to educate programmers in the oft-overlooked area of creating code which is intuitive to the reader is evident to me because reading this book has caused me to reflect, learn, and resolve to write better code.
Practical, enjoyable, and very readable. Recommended for students in computer programming and any programmer, of any level of experience, who has looked back at his/her code of several months ago and thought, "What does this part do?"
O'Reilly Media provided me with a free electronic copy of this book to review. Learn more about The Art of Readable Code at [...]