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Code Complete

(Best Practices)

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  8,671 ratings  ·  404 reviews
Widely considered one of the best practical guides to programming, Steve McConnell's original CODE COMPLETE has been helping developers write better software for more than a decade. Now this classic book has been fully updated and revised with leading-edge practices--and hundreds of new code samples--illustrating the art and science of software construction. Capturing the ...more
Paperback, 2nd Edition, 914 pages
Published June 9th 2004 by Microsoft Press (first published 1993)
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Average rating 4.30  · 
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 ·  8,671 ratings  ·  404 reviews

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Erika RS
May 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: physical, owned, software
Code Complete is a massive work, so this summary is, necessarily, very high level. It is not a book that one can absorb completely in one reading, but one can absorb its high level themes (summarized nicely in the second to last chapter).

"Conquer Complexity". High quality code manages complexity. No one can think of all of the levels of abstraction needed to fully understand a program at once; just admit it and try to make your code less complex. Complexity can be managed at every level of the
Jon Fuller
Oct 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
Code Complete 2... A Review

One-liner: Read it. 3.5 stars

I came into this with super high expectations. Things I'd heard people say: "I make everyone on my team read this." or "Every developer should start with this book". So, I thought, "sweet, a great 'back to basics' book... I can't wait!". I read through this book with a host of colleagues all with quite different experience levels and in different areas of expertise.

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

Well... maybe not the wo
Mark Seemann
Jun 21, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: software
All the while reading this book, I struggled with how to rate it here. In many ways, this is an extraordinary piece of work; it's extremely comprehensive, and reveals a remarkable level of insight.

This second edition is from 2004, and although obviously some of its content may seem a little dated, most of it still holds up well in 2015. Given that context, I find it difficult to find fault with most of the book. Much of the advice given is good advice, and as a programmer, you should adopt and i
Tim Tulsky
Sep 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is one the best books for programmers and I think every programmer should read it. The only problem this book has is some parts of it is written specifically for senior developers and architects; so, you may want to skip them, if you're not a SENIOR developer yet, like myself. ...more
Yevgeniy Brikman
Aug 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A must-read for any programmer. Although I don't agree with everything in the book and a few parts feel out of date, it provides an excellent framework for how to think about programming and software engineering. It can help programmers of all experience levels to focus on the right things: that code is harder to read than to write, that managing complexity is the main goal of programming, and so on.

The book is filled with nuggets of wisdom. Some of my favorite quotes, some from McConnell, some
May 16, 2014 rated it did not like it
Terribly bloated. Long-winded and trivial. I do not get the high score for this book; in a related area, but much more crisp is Programming Pearls (it even engages your brain, imagine that). ...more
Aaron Boushley
Nov 07, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: beginning programmers
Shelves: programming
This book was a pretty good read. Most of what is discussed is extremely valuable information. Although with only 5 years of experience I felt like many of the points that Steve brought up were fairly obvious once you've been working as a Software Developer. If you are new to programming, want to move to a more professional level of programming or just plain have plenty of time on your hands this is a great book. However, if you already have a fair amount of experience developing software profes ...more
Nov 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Steve McConnell's Code Complete is absolutely essential to every software developer. The lessons contained in Code Complete are based on solid, time-tested principles. The time spent reading Code Complete is time spent bettering your career as a developer. ...more
Dec 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
This is one of those books that every programmer must read.

If there's one problem with this book, it's that it is too long, at 900+ pages. But, I wouldn't hold that against it. This book has tons of good information. I should have read this years ago. A lot of what I learnt over the years could have been done so earlier. Also, there were a few points that I didn't completely agree with, but I guess that's ok. Like it is said here, creating software is a craft.

The top 3 biggest takeaways from thi
Sep 28, 2009 rated it liked it
Steve McConnell's Code Complete 2 is a classic piece of literature in Software Development. I joined a book club for reading this book, and the discussions along the way were some of the most valuable I've had. It was very rewarding to me to see many of the pieces of advice given reaffirming my own coding practices and the way things are done here at SEP, but I certainly took some new information away. One of the main lessons taught throughout the book is that code should be easy to understand. ...more
Mar 29, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: swe
So it’s a #1 must read programming book according to this poll on StackOverflow. That raises quite some expectations, and if you ask me, the book doesn’t really meet them.

I mean, it doesn’t even feel like a proper programming book - it’s written in some “Easy way to quit smoking for dummies” style. Every idea is explained verbosely, then illustrated with some numeric stats, then with a 3D chart, then with some real-life anecdote, then with a reference to a 1973 paper, and finally reiterated in a
Oct 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
For me, the main message of this book is: "Bugs in software are introduced because of code complexity."

This idea and many other things were an eyeopener to me. For example, I was not able to explain why I don't feel good about "hacky code" in feature implementation or why sometimes I read code and struggle to understand what is going on. Now I see that both of those things add a lot of complexity.

I think every developer with 3-5 years of experience should read this book. Sure it can be dated at
Oct 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
It's a great book for fresher developers, as it contains a lot of practices and hard facts to back them up. I''m already aware of quite of bit that the book advocates so I wouldn't get as much out of it as a new developer. But having said that, I did get to learn bits and pieces here and there of stuff I hadn't thought about, so it's good. I guess the downside about this book is that it can be pretty long-winded in trying to explain why a certain practice is a good practice. ...more
Jahongir Rahmonov
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I feel like I should have read it earlier in my carrier. It is a good book. But it felt boring to me because I already knew most of the stuff. Did not live up to my expectations because people say it is the Bible of programming. However, I would say that Clean Code by Uncle Bob is more interesting and more useful for me at this point.
Fernando Fernandes
Jul 21, 2014 rated it did not like it
The format and verbosity of this book really hurts. I'm glad that there are technical books like O'Reilly's Head First series out there. Or the Pragmatic Bookshelf. I must say tho, there are a lot of good points in Code Complete. But the way they are presented... Makes it difficult to enjoy. ...more
Mar 11, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots of checklists that theoretically sound good for large teams and projects but the overhead may be too high for smaller projects.
Jun 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cs, reference, non-fiction
This is a clear reference for programming. As a beginner, I found chapter 33 is especially inspiring.
In this chapter, the author brought up 5 characteristics that matter the most:
1. Humility: People who are best at programming are those who realize how small their brains are. For compensating, good programmers reduce the load on their brains by keeping routines short.
2. Curiosity: Always spare a few minutes to be curious about how to do jobs better.
1) Build awareness of the development process
Apr 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: code
Just finished this huge tome of a book, I think it almost took me about 3 months to finish this book, my overall perspective regarding this book is that it provides some refresher on most practices of software engineering.

I have about 9 years experience working in the software field, and some of the examples in this book are clearly outdated as regards to the software landscape of 2019, we have some very good methodologies and technologies available to us.

I am mostly an MS developer, and Visual
Lowell Paige Bander
I'd give a 1-star review to a book that was wrong, or that purported to be scientific and yet was absent of references. This book gets 2-stars because although there were a tiny handful of useful tips, the vast majority of the text was a stream of minutiae, such as an entire chapter on variable naming (Should you capitalize the first letter of method names? What about prefixing constants with "c_" vs making the whole name upper case?).

I've been reading a few articles lately about "tricks" for re
Tadas Talaikis
Jun 27, 2017 rated it liked it
All concept can be just added into few sentences, like, before you start programming, think (and predict) very well what functions you'll need, as not Mather how well you though, damn thing anyway will grow into something too complex. It is tempting to add features, but that's a suicide if those not thought off before the project. Complexities have tendency to fail. ...more
Aleksandr Beljakov
That book was for me high expectation.
But in real case, for 10 years of professional development and self improvement, that book is just repeating of basic paradigms. But still I found something new. May be not new, but obvious, what most of senior developers ignores by "authority" of experience.

I recommend that book for Mid-Senior developers. It collects a ton of best practices and advices.
For junior devs it will be hard to handle at once. Needs to return back more that once.
At least, once y
Stojancho Jefremov
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Despite it is old it is still applicable, excellent book that gives you recommendations what to do in given situations and become one of the best programmers.
Elijah Oyekunle
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: technology, construx
Every day I code, I apply a lesson I learnt from this book. It has helped a lot.
Ralph N
May 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Must read for all programmers! You will learn something useful in here, for sure
Seth Johnson
Jan 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: professional
This is a solid overview of the practice of software design at a low level: not how to solve problems with logical architecture, but how to organize code (or what the author calls "construction"). As of time of reading, I've been programming for fifteen years. For me, much of this was tread ground but I think reading this book would be as good as a year or two of practical experience, at the least, for a beginning programmer. It would certainly set them off on the right foot. If I'd read it a de ...more
Phil Filippak
Jul 20, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: programming
One of the most worthless and dull books I've ever read. Some right ideas and proper approaches are described there indeed but, first, they are obvious and, second, the amount of text one should absorb is 5-10 times greater that needed, in my opinion.

Further, a lot of people recommend this book to beginners which is not worthless but, I would dare to say, dangerous. Many ideas are very controversial, and to yet unformed minds they may be really wrecking.

The idea which I believe can replace the w
Yehuda Prizont
Aug 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The bible of practical programming.
I bought the first edition, read about 400-500 pages and then the book was lost in a move. A few years later I got the second edition and read it again from the beginning and probably got to something like page 700. I then moved overseas and once again the book didn't make it across the ocean. Therefore, I have to include a small disclaimer that I didn't read the whole book. It is close to 1000 pages.
I don't remember any useless or impractical chapter. The book
Jaroslav Tuček
Aug 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
Code Complete is a highly regarded book in the software engineering industry and I approached it with pretty high expectations - however, the actual reading experience has turned into something of a nightmare for me. It took me almost a year to finish (several times seriously considering abandoning the effort), and I have to say this is probably the driest and the most boring book I've ever read.

Don't get me wrong, it's hard to find fault with the content itself - all of it is excellent advice,
Jan 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Purchased this book as a textbook for a Software Engineering class at school. The teacher said he enjoyed it quite a bit and that we weren't going to reference it as much as he'd like (considering the other texts for the class). His comment piqued my interest. Upon finishing the first reading assignment I continued along to the next chapter. Like it so much I began the next and then halted, remembering the other reading I first needed to complete.

So, I finished the other book (Mythical Man Month
Erkut Demirhan
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cs-programming
This was my second attempt to read this book. The first time was 5 years ago, just after finishing my computer science degree. At that time, I had difficulty understanding importance of the ideas presented in the book. Eventually I lost my interest and stopped reading it.

After spending some time in the industry and facing with harsh realities of software development, I decided to give it a try again. This time I gained much more insight than my first reading. Because now I had a chance to refle
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“Programmers working with high-level languages achieve better productivity and quality than those working with lower-level languages. Languages such as C++, Java, Smalltalk, and Visual Basic have been credited with improving productivity, reliability, simplicity, and comprehensibility by factors of 5 to 15 over low-level languages such as assembly and C (Brooks 1987, Jones 1998, Boehm 2000). You save time when you don't need to have an awards ceremony every time a C statement does what it's supposed to.” 8 likes
“the road to programming hell is paved with global variables,” 8 likes
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