Feeds

Acquiring Code Craft

How to be crafty, and good, at coding

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

Book review Books on programming language x, technology y, and methodology z are 10 a penny. Bookshop shelves groan under the weight of books promising to teach programming x, y or z in 21 days, 7 days, 24 hours, 10 minutes, 30 seconds...

Developers are not exempt from the lure of instant wisdom and there are plenty of publishers and authors ready with promises of fast roads to gurudom.

On the other hand, books devoted to the everyday craft of programming are far less common, particularly those that seek to impart the hard lessons gained from long experience churning out code in the real world. Peter Goodliffe's Code Craft is definitely in the latter camp, aiming to be a hard-copy mentor to those just starting out in the world of professional programming.

Adopting a no-nonsense tone from the outset, Goodliffe seeks to guide the reader into the ways of the world – at least that part of the world he calls the "code face". To this end, he looks at all aspects of development, from coding through to design, architecture, source control, code reviews, requirements, and more. It's a fairly broad sweep, of course, but Goodliffe addresses the issues from a developer perspective throughout.

Whether it's looking at fundamental religious questions – code layout, braces, spaces versus tabs, variable names, casing of identifiers – or looking at processes and methods such as code reviews or the best use of software configuration management, the book keeps to a central theme: how can I as a developer do the best job I can in less than ideal circumstances? The emphasis is firmly on pointing out the costs and benefits of different approaches and highlighting those that work most successfully.

Inevitably, a book like this is fairly agnostic when it comes to the specifics of programming languages, platforms, and even methodologies (for example agile versus RUP). Good practices transcend the specifics of particular languages. Where there's code it tends to be in C++ or Java, but the snippets are generic enough to be intelligible no matter what language you use.

In addition to the core text, Goodliffe supplements his material with key concepts, cartoons, lists of things to think about, specific things to do, and ends every chapter with a check-list that describes those things that differentiate good programmers from bad.

It should be clear that there's a lot to commend this book. The writing is good (though the author should never have been allowed near a dictionary of quotations), and the advice is generally spot on. In many respects this book sits directly alongside one of the classics of programming literature: Steve McConnell's Code Complete. The two books have similar concerns and offer much of the same advice. In McConnell's case, his book has a slightly more serious tone and is backed up with plenty of references, research studies, and academic papers.

The best developers are always looking for ways to improve their skills, both in terms of learning about their tools and languages, and in learning from other developers what works and why. While this book won't displace Code Complete, it's a worthy addition to the literature of self-improvement that all serious developers should explore.

Code Craft

Code Craft

Verdict: Packs a lot of valuable advice

Author: Peter Goodliffe

Publisher: No Starch Press

ISBN: 1593271190

Media: Book

List Price: £38.99

Current Reg price: £18.59

Buy this book at Register Books at Reg Developer's special discounted price! ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
Windows 8.1, which you probably haven't upgraded to yet, ALREADY OBSOLETE
Pre-Update versions of new Windows version will no longer support patches
Microsoft TIER SMEAR changes app prices whether devs ask or not
Some go up, some go down, Redmond goes silent
Red Hat to ship RHEL 7 release candidate with a taste of container tech
Grab 'near-final' version of next Enterprise Linux next week
Ditch the sync, paddle in the Streem: Upstart offers syncless sharing
Upload, delete and carry on sharing afterwards?
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.