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Beautiful Code: Leading Programmers Explain How They Think
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Beautiful Code: Leading Programmers Explain How They Think (Theory In Practice)

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  734 ratings  ·  44 reviews
How do the experts solve difficult problems in software development? In this unique and insightful book, leading computer scientists offer case studies that reveal how they found unusual, carefully designed solutions to high-profile projects. You will be able to look over the shoulder of major coding and design experts to see problems through their eyes.

This is not simply
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Paperback, 563 pages
Published July 3rd 2007 by O'Reilly Media
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,313)
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Joshua
An enjoyable book, but really mis-titled. A more descriptive title would have been:

"Leading programmers describe code they've worked on and are proud of, and then awkwardly wrap some discussion of 'beauty' around it."

However, that's a good book too, and this was. I liked the cross-disiplinary flair, and the ideas that were presented as 'beauty'. It's not a good 'skills' book, but it's a good 'mindsets' book.
John
Jan 28, 2008 John rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: tech
Beautiful Code is another non-animal O'Reilly volume, with high aspirations. As the sleeve submits: "How do the experts solve difficult problems in software development?" If this book (or any) had been able to have answered that question, reading it would be a head-spinning experience indeed.

The book's chapters are each the domain of a different prominent software developer or writer, and several are elegant outlines of what is unarguably some of the best code out there - Apache Webserver, Quick
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Noah Sussman
Jul 04, 2011 Noah Sussman marked it as to-read
While I didn't finish the whole book, I have read Douglas Crockford's essay on writing a JavaScript parser in JavaScript, and Tim Bray on using regular expressions to extract data from log files.

The Crockford essay is the first article I've ever read on parsing. It's not the first article I've seen on the subject, just the first one I've managed to get through all the way. Crockford's a really good explainer in general, plus the familiarity of the language helped a lot. Now I actually understand
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Robert
In Yukihiro Matsmoto's chapter on Ruby he says "Most programs are not write-once ... it is therefore more important by far for humans to be able to understand the program than it is for the computer." That's the essence of beautiful code to me. Unfortunately the book is littered with code that's clever, but not beautiful. There are plenty of chapters that are neither... exercises in what the author hacked together in Perl on their holiday. It's still a fairly interesting read, and I'd rate it mo ...more
Deryck Hodge
There are some great essays here and some long and winding, less interesting, essays here. I read them out of order and sporadically and enjoyed the book, but there was a part of me that was disappointed. Perhaps there's no way to avoid too high of expectations with a title like this. But overall, certainly worth a read.
Alpha
Jan 16, 2009 Alpha rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2009
Not as good as I had hoped, although there are a few gems between the covers. There's a lot of actual code in this book though, so be prepared to do some serious reading and thinking should you pick it up. Overall, it was fun to read, but I'm not sure how much I took away.
Christian Brumm
Some very nice chapters, others below the quality of an average blog post. I guess if you ask (for example) the inventor of a programming language for a chapter it's hard to say "that's crap" in editing. Anyways, poor job in selecting the chapters, could easily be 100 pages.
Alex
I didn't quite like it. It's fun to read things related to people you've worked with, but most examples are labored, longish and really not that beautiful. A few of them are worth reading on their own, but they don't justify buying the book, I my opinion.
Kian
The good, the bad, and the "ow my head hurts".

This is not a light book. It is not an easy book. It is not a book that I would recommend to those uninitiated into the rather painful world of computer science, rather than software engineering.

The book asked leading programmers to contribute commentaries on what they considered butiful code, and why they consider it beautiful. Some of the authors have managed to succeed in this (dare I use the word?) beautifully, understanding that their audience i
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Leif
This book is sort of a mixed bag. On the one hand, Matsumoto's outstanding essay on lightweight languages links the two words in the title in a clear, creative, and general way ; on the other, Patzer's piece on business integration through REST is dry and basically just full of code. (I'm not trying to pick on him specifically ; there are many others in the book like it.) Somewhere in between are Dean and Ghemawat's groundbreaking MapReduce paper, an interesting-in-its-simplicity Kernighan essay ...more
Mark
A collection of essays from programmers, some about beautiful aspects of code, some about how a programmer thought about a problem, and some about whatever aspect of programming the writer felt like writing about. Royalties from the book are donated to Amnesty International, which explains why the theme isn't the driving force behind this collection.

This is not a book for beginning-level programmers. Mastery of the fundamentals, such as Code Complete, The Pragmatic Programmer, and their ilk, are
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Yevgeniy Brikman
A mixed bag, but overall, worth reading.

Pros: I think programmers do not spend enough time studying the code of others, so books like this are an important step in encouraging the study of this craft. Each chapter of the book is written by a different (often famous) programmer, uses a different language, and discusses a different domain, so you get to see a huge range of different types of code. Multidimensional Iterators in NumPy, Distributed Programming with MapReduce, Beautiful Concurrency,
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Dave Peticolas

This is a large collection of articles on the subject of beauty in software engineering. There are some real gems here, including articles by Brian Kernighan and Jon Bentley.

There are also a lot of rather dry articles where the author basically pats himself on the back for some project X he worked on.

I suppose that's what they were asked to write about, but Kernighan, who has no doubt written more beautiful code than any other author, has the class and the tact to pick someone else's code to wri

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Chris
Jul 02, 2008 Chris rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: computer programmers
Shelves: at-work
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Olli Sorje
Some chapters are very interesting but I didn't agree with all the authors about definition of beautiful code.
Shaun
The idea behind the book is sound: experienced programmers tell you about how they solved complicated programs and unique and efficient ways. In practice, the book reads more like a series of success stories, and it almost feels like the programmers are gloating rather than teaching at times. The useful information contained in this book isn't really anything I haven't carried away from other books in a much clearer context. This might be an interesting book if you like the historical factor of ...more
Mike
Sectioned into 33 short chapters, each differing in authorship, the book covers a diverse range of programming topics. "Leading Programmers Explain How They Think" was an apt choice of subtitle. This tome is geared towards one who actually uses code to solve problems, practicing developers who are still improving their craft and the like; for others it is likely to be an extremely trying exercise in patience and ultimately not very rewarding.

In a way reading this book is like allowing someone to
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Matt
I had high hopes for the book, but I wasn't too impressed with it.
Henrique Lobo Weissmann
Precisa de inspiração? O livro é este.
Daniel Schulte
Great idea. Not executed as well as it could have been. The beginning chapters were awesome and memorable (especially the one about quick sort), however the middle chapters were boring and not really all that interesting. Instead of talking about why things were beautiful, they just talked about their code and their design. I really liked the quicksort chapter and the colinear chapter because they walked us through the thoughts of leading developers.
val_danil
Nice bird's-eye view of some cool software people are writing, and some common advice for writing clear, maintainable code. Not very original or deep for learning something new, but interesting and inspiring.
David Lindelof
A collection of 30+ essays on various definitions of what constitutes 'Beautiful' code. Some of the essays are outright brilliant; none is mediocre. One of them helped me break through a programming job I was working on.

The book could be going slowly at some points. Some essays are particularly hard to read/understand. But overall I definitely think that this book will make you a better programmer.
Patrick Boykin
The idea of this book is excellent since many programmers need to think more about how to build beautiful (not necessarily clever) code. However, not all of the chapters really strike rise to the standard I expected. Overall, it's a nice book to have and to read, but several of the chapters could have been removed, so read the ones that interest you, skip the ones that don't.
Kevin
Definitely interesting to read about the different approaches great programmers have taken in solving interesting and difficult problems.

There were a few chapters that seemed to drag on with pages of PERL and Unix 'C' code; however, the regular expression matcher, computational geometry and JS parsing chapters are worth the price alone.
James
I've read a few chapters from this book so far (not sequentially) and found them to be quick and interesting analyses of how programmers tackle and resolve some pretty complex problems. Definitely not for the average reader but you probably know if this is the kind of book you'll enjoy.
Nick Gotch
I read select chapters from this book but plan to go back and hit them all. Each chapter is from a different author so some are better than others but overall there's a lot of good stuff to be learned from the programming designs and ideas walked-through in this book.
André
It is not a book that tells you how to write beautiful code, but is a book that will broadly expand your knowledge on code design by analysing several cases studies and how they have been solved in a beautiful way according to the solver perspective.
Tamara Temple
I really fell in love with this book. Well presented, with many perspectives on what beautiful code is, and many helpful ideas on becoming a top craftsperson in software development.

"Correct. Pretty. Fast."
Chip Turner
starts strong, but not all examples stack up to it. seems to lack clear focus, with some essays being about specific code that is beautiful and others being vague hand-waving opinion pieces. worth reading.
Michael
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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  • The Practice of Programming
  • Programming Pearls
  • The Productive Programmer
  • 97 Things Every Software Architect Should Know: Collective Wisdom from the Experts
  • 97 Things Every Programmer Should Know: Collective Wisdom from the Experts
  • Hacker's Delight
  • Working Effectively with Legacy Code
  • The Little Schemer
  • Rapid Development: Taming Wild Software Schedules
  • Refactoring to Patterns
  • Algorithms in a Nutshell
  • Beautiful Architecture
  • Seven Languages in Seven Weeks
  • Purely Functional Data Structures
  • Mastering Regular Expressions
  • Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code
  • Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs (MIT Electrical Engineering and Computer Science)
  • Domain-Driven Design: Tackling Complexity in the Heart of Software

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