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The Best Software Writing I

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  544 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
Frustrated by the lack of well-written essays on software engineering, Joel Spolsky (of fame) has put together a collection of his favorite writings on the topic.

With a nod to both the serious and funny sides of technical writing, The Best Software Writing I: Selected and Introduced by Joel Spolsky is an entertaining read and a guide to the technical
Paperback, 305 pages
Published October 21st 2005 by Apress (first published January 1st 2005)
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Christy Ford
Apr 09, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: work-related
Never has a book made the term 'dead tree' seem as true as this one. With minimal work, almost all of the content in this is freely available online, and I would highly recommend reading the introductions on paper, but viewing the pieces themselves in their original hyperlinked state. Cut off from their comments, with references reduced to footnotes rather than links, the writing shrinks. It feels much more alive in the context it was written.

That said, it is a fair collection of diverse and imp
Yevgeniy Brikman
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
A nice collection of blog posts and essays on software. Even though most of these are available online for free, there is so much crappy writing out there, that it's nice to come across a curated, pre-vetted collection from a trusted source. I also wholeheartedly agree with Spolsky's desire to see more quality writing about software, and applaud him for encouraging this sort of work by publishing a book like this. I'm a fan of anything that tries to make the software industry more accessible and ...more
Mar 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
I liked this. Published in 2005, some of the essays in this collection are starting to show their twelve-years-plus age, especially with regard to specific technologies and products. And it's an interesting glimpse of a software industry before the eras of smartphones and their apps, Twitter and Facebook, and the resurgence of JavaScript. But overall there's a lot that's still worthwhile to be found here.

To the criticism I've seen in other reviews that this book is somehow worthless because it's
Sep 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 社畜, programming, essay
2006년에 나온 책이라 요새 기술에는 좀 뒤떨어졌지만 뭐 괜찮다. 나중에 다시 읽어봐야지.
Dhananjay Balan
Nov 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A good collection of essays on mordern programming culture and practice.
Feb 26, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010
A nice selection of essays about software development. Not every story is great, but there aren't too many stinkers either. And the ones that are good are really good. Here are some of my highlights:

Style is Substance - Makes the argument that style (i.e. where you put your curly braces, how you indent, etc) should be built into the compiler (like python does) The argument is basically this: No formatting style adds any significant productivity at all. Unfortunately supporting whatever style a d
Jun 10, 2008 rated it liked it
Reading well-written material on technology is still something exciting to me. We're at a cusp where the world is becoming more permeated with technology, my generation is growing up with tools that are as old as we are and thus our understanding and acceptance of technology is growing. Yet the stereotypical nerd is still out there, hammering out code while being incredibly inept at writing documentation. So finding collections of material like this, where people have a deep understanding of tec ...more
Amar Pai
Mar 15, 2011 rated it it was ok
There's some good stuff in here but it's all stuff you can find online, and there's a lot of filler as well. I like the idea of this book but feel like they weren't able to keep the bar high enough for writing quality. e.g. "ea spouse" -- clearly a significant blog post and one that had a huge impact on the industry-- but is it great writing? Not really.

My favorite essay from the book was Strong Typing vs Strong Testing by Bruce Eckels. Really good discussion of the merits/drawbacks of dynamical
Jul 09, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: senior developers
Shelves: work
Kind of hard to get through this one, probably because it's a compilation of different authors' works and that articles are included not just because they're interesting but also because they are examples of good writing. Some of the articles are interesting and some not so much but that is probably due to my personal bias. I still haven't decided how many of the articles are not read-once. For me the book of collected JoelOnSoftware articles would be more relevant.

I haven't actually read all of
Dec 03, 2007 rated it liked it
I liked Joel on Software, which is mostly a compilation of articles Joel Spolsky wrote for his blog. I thought the paper copy offered something beyond what I would get from just browsing through Spolsky's archives on the net. Sadly, I do not really have the same feeling about Best Software Writing. Most of these articles first appeared online somewhere, and while many of them are reasonably entertaining -- and the editorial footnotes are sometimes hilarious -- I'm no longer so sure that I would ...more
Apr 27, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: comp-sci
Not as good as the last collection of essays by Joel Spolsky, probably mostly because they were on topics that I was either not interested in or maybe just the overall divergence of topics. The collection brightened up considerably with the last essay, which was Why The Lucky Stiff's first chapter of his book on the Ruby programming language, which was a lot of fun to read. Sample moment from that chapter "I was there, eight years old, lying in my bed, when suddenly it struck me: there's nothing ...more
Tom Schulte
Jul 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Some of this can be attacked for its vintage, but it you read past the tech for technique, which I think is the point here, the lessons are timeless. Edward R. Tufte's skewering of PowerPoint as a tool and Paul Graham's "Great Hackers" are pieces worth the price of admission alone. And, don't discount the Ruby veneration or Rick Shaut's article on the birth of Mac Word due to the antiqueness therein because what they have to say about elegance and project management is still important, today.
Vasili Puchko
Jan 27, 2010 rated it liked it
A large part of the book describes Ruby language. Ruby is a great language, really. But this book is not an Ruby education guide and I prefer to see here some comparison or thoughts or something like this instead of that introduction to Ruby. It looks like the author didn't have enough articles to add to book or it was too attracted by Ruby.
But this book also shows some different problems of IT from side of non-developers - managers, CEO, customers. And that part, IMO, is very interesting.
Shane Burgel
Feb 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
I really enjoyed this book a lot. Most of the articles were incredibly well written and entertaining as well as insightful.

This has definitely inspired me to read more technical blogs. If there are guys out there that can write like this and teach great things in this way then I want to read more of it.
Jan 09, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2011
Basically a random collection of blog posts and essays. I found maybe a few gems, but the majority were tedious and I really had to push myself to finish this book. Technology changes fast and very little in this book is 'timeless' material. Most of it felt quite dated...this was probably a much better read five years ago.
Chun Kit Lee
Sep 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nlb
Rating: 4.5/5 (unable to select 1/2 rating)

This is a really great collection. It can be read even if you are not in the IT industry as it is not a technical book, but rather a book with really great writings that help to illuminate the ideas.

I would recommend this book to everyone I know who wants to read a great non-fiction book. I'm serious.
Oct 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Fantastically curated by Joel Spolsky.

It's interesting -- this book easily could have been a web site, but I'm not sure I would have read it or even found it. But this still works fairly well as a print product. In fact, I wish it would become an annual thing. There's so much stuff online and sometimes it's hard to find the best of it. Spolsky did a great job of weeding through it all.
Oct 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was an entertaining and informative read. Most of the concepts discussed are timeless and therefore useful, but some of the stuff discussed seemed kind of dated, even though only from 2004-2005. For someone already in the software business, this is entertaining and helpful, and I would recommend it.
Blair Conrad
Apr 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Very nice. Spolsky’s introductions were typically Spolskyesque, and I really enjoyed almost every article. The individual authors are gifted writers, and the subject matter was interesting throughout (to me – I’m a software developer, but there were more articles than I expected that would mean something to the non-developer, and even to someone totally unconnected to the production of software).
Apr 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
A nice collection of well written and engaging articles covering a diverse range of topics, my favorites being the introduction to Ruby with cartoon foxes and a short essay on the evils of PowerPoint slides done in the style of bad PowerPoint slides.
Joe GR
Jun 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
Interesting collection of short to medium length article about software development. Joel didn't write these, though his stuff is worth reading too. He collected the best stuff written around 2004. Worth the time.
Dec 29, 2012 rated it liked it
This book was very straightforward for me. Some of the articles that Joel selected were captivating and entertaining for developers. Other articles were quite forgettable. Hence, the book gets a middle of the road rating from me.
Dec 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
They aren't writing about the techniques of software development, but the philosophy of software engineering. And they are doing it well. You will be edified by this book. This book will help build your skill in doing the right thing, which is a nice compliment to the books about doing things well.
Karel Rymes
Nov 26, 2016 rated it liked it
First, I would like to appraise the essay selection as most of them are still interesting even after 10 years and the boom of smart phones.
I did not like some of the articles as they were too hand-wavy, biased and opinioated.
Apr 15, 2008 rated it liked it
For Software Development Nerds only. It's not a classic in the tradition of The Mythical Man Month, Peopleware, or Code Complete, but most of the essays are reasonably interesting and well-written. But probably only if you're passionate about building software.
Dec 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2008
I've actually read a bunch of these essays on the intarwebs, but they're extremely well written and worth re-reading. I'd actually rate it 4.5/5. Well worth reading for any programmer, but I wouldn't say it's a must-read.
Nov 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Il problrma �� che non �� un libro di Spolsky, ma curato da lui. La cosa migliore sono le introduzioni di spolsky: agli articoli presentati mancano la verve e la sagacia che contraddistinguono lo stile di spolsky.
Nick Black
Apr 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Ordered from amazon 2008-03-23. I've read most of the enclosed essays before, but shall go back through them in toto...a pretty good collection for the price!
Mar 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Good mix of articles, but the editing was too obtrusive for my tastes. Echo is mentioned in passing.
Aug 24, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: computers
Some interesting essays, others boring. I should probably skim through this again to earmark the better ones (the ones I should brush up on periodically).
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