Erika RS's Reviews > Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship

Clean Code by Robert C. Martin
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Nov 22, 2013

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Read in February, 2012

I wanted to love this book, but instead I just sort of liked it. This book is a member of the extensive genre of books on how to write clean code. It sits alongside books like Code Complete by Steve McConnell[1] and many others. Where Clean Code promised to differentiate itself was in the use of three case studies -- about a third of the book -- showing Martin's code cleanup techniques in action.

However, I was disappointed by that section. As someone who codes and reviews code professionally, the case studies were not particularly enlightening. As seems obvious in retrospect, watching someone clean-up code in fairly straightforward ways is not interesting if you do and see that everyday. What I really wanted was a book on being a better code reviewer with advice on how to spot areas for improvement and convince others of the value of those improvements.

The examples could be useful for someone who isn't in a code-review-heavy environment. Martin does a reasonably good job of taking code that may seem reasonable on the surface and improving its readabilty. That said, his comments indicate that he often has a higher opinion of the cleanliness of his end result than I do.

As for the general advice and discussion of how to make clean code, I agree with a lot of his tips and disagree with others. Code cleanliness is an area where the core of just-plain-good ideas is surrounded by a nimbus of sometimes contradictory standards that people pick and choose from. The details of what you choose from the nimbus generally does not matter so much as consistency. (Of course, the real trouble occurs when people don't agree on what belongs in the core and what belongs in the nimbus.)

The book definitely was not a bad read, but it did not fit my needs.

[1] Still my favorite in the genre.
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