Friday, September 11, 2009

"Coders At Work" is Awesome

An extract from Chapter 1

"Seibel: What about books? Are there particular computer-science or programming books that everyone should read?

Zawinski: I actually haven’t read very many of those. The one I
always recommend is Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, which a lot of people are afraid of because it’s Lispy, but I think does a really good job of teaching programming without teaching a language. I think a lot of introductory-level stuff focuses on syntax and I definitely saw that in the classes I had in high school and in the intro classes at Carnegie-Mellon during my brief time there.This is not teaching people to program; this is teaching people where the semicolon goes. That seems like the kind of thing that’s going to scare people away from it more than anything, because that’s not the interesting part. Not even to someone who knows what they’re doing.


There was another book—what was it called?—about debugging, written by someone from Microsoft. It was about how to use asserts effectively. I remember thinking that was a really good book, not because I learned anything from it, but because it was the book you wish your idiot coworker had read.


Then there was another book that everybody thought was the greatest thing ever in that same period—Design Patterns—which I just thought was crap. It was just like, programming via cut and paste. Rather than thinking through your task you looked through the recipe
book and found something that maybe, kinda, sorta felt like it, and then just aped it. That’s not programming; that’s a coloring book. But a lot of people seemed to love it. Then in meetings they’d be tossing around all this terminology they got out of that book. Like, the inverse, reverse, double-back-flip pattern—whatever. Oh, you mean a loop? OK."


heh heh!

This book is really good and I am sitting here and reading this instead of working (and I have a LOT of work to do). I'll do a full review later, but if you are any kind of programmer just go buy it already.

@Peter Seibel Great Work.

2 comments:

Venkatesh Sellappa said...

"—Design Patterns—which I just thought was crap. It was just like, programming via cut and paste. Rather than thinking through your task you looked through the recipe book and found something that maybe, kinda, sorta felt like it, and then just aped it. That’s not programming; that’s a coloring book."

Aw Brilliant. And coming from JWZ , i need to buy that book - thanks for the excerpt.

Tarun Kumar said...

I came across your blog on hackernews. I have also read your older blog. Great posts!