Todd Nemet's Reviews > Joel on Software

Joel on Software by Joel Spolsky
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's review
Jul 18, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: library
Read from July 15 to 16, 2010

Picked this up at the library while looking through the computer books.

This is one of the earlier blog-to-book jobbies that I'm aware of, and it's a good one. Joel Spolsky worked at Microsoft as a program manager, Juno as a programmer and manager, and now owns his own company, FogBugz.

During his career he formed some pretty strong opinions about the best way to do things, from how to hire a software engineer to how to enter a market with established competitors, which he describes in these blunt, funny, and slighly bitchy articles.

A lot of the material is dated, covering 2000 to 2003, but is still very relevant. In fact it's probably more relevant because it's possible to read these articles with enough detachment to pick out their lessons.

My favorite article is the overview of Unicode and character encodings, which he explains exactly the right way to understand it. (This is a topic dear to me ever since I created a Turkish and Greek localization for enterprise search software.) The section on hiring reminds me a lot of the way Google approaches it, making me wonder if his blog inspired anyone at Google early on or if Google independently came up with a similar system.

The chapter "How Microsoft Lost The API War," should be read by anyone who wants to understand why developers started shifting from Windows to the web. In a nice touch Mr. Spolsky apologizes for a writing a paragraph that sounds like a typical pompous industry columnist. The difference, of course, is that Joel actually knows what he is talking about.

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