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97 Things Every Programmer Should Know: Collective Wisdom from the Experts

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  1,750 ratings  ·  155 reviews
Tap into the wisdom of experts to learn what every programmer should know, no matter what language you use. With the 97 short and extremely useful tips for programmers in this book, you'll expand your skills by adopting new approaches to old problems, learning appropriate best practices, and honing your craft through sound advice.

With contributions from some of the most ex
Paperback, 258 pages
Published February 19th 2010 by O'Reilly Media, Inc. (first published January 1st 2010)
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Rod Hilton
Oct 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
"97 Livejournal Posts: Collective Suggestions from 20 Experts You've Heard Of And 77 Random People"

This is a book with 97 tips for programmers, each tip takes up two pages or less, written by different programmers (a few get more than one entry). Here's the problem: 2 pages isn't enough to say anything useful about anything. And taking 97 useless writings and concatenating them together doesn't create a useful one - the size limit of each entry prevents anything from being particularly valuable.
Todd N
Jan 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: kindle
Impulse buy on my Kindle. I stopped reading about half way through because I was hoping to get more specific advice. Most of it was sort of "floss between meals" advice that I already know (and ignore). I'd recommend Pragmatic Programmer or Code Complete 2 instead of this book. ...more
Apr 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a provocative title! What practitioner in any field could see a title like "X Things Every Y Should Know" and not wonder, "Do I know all of these X things? I should know them all, as I am, indeed, a Y!"

Really far more than just "Things", this is a collection of good advice. Interestingly, it's good even when (perhaps especially when) it is contradictory.

I believe it is wise to pay attention to good advice. I believe it is even wiser to be able to choose the right advice to follow at the
May 06, 2013 rated it liked it
Short, easy to read and available for free. But maybe too obvious. Probably for younger me or the industry improved a lot since the book was written.

Several articles worth reading even for software veterans

The Boy Scout Rule by Uncle Bob
Act with Prudence by Seb Rose
Automate Your Coding Standard by Filip van Laenen
Beware the Share by Udi Dahan
Check Your Code First before Looking to Blame Others by Allan Kelly
Don't Be Afraid to Break Things by Mike L
Stefan Kanev
Jun 22, 2010 rated it liked it
If nothing else, it's an aptly named book.

It does indeed contain 97 things every programmer should know. Sadly for me, I knew pretty much all of them. I still managed to find some interesting ideas or some very nice formulations. I tried to imagine how this book will appear to a novice programmer and I think it might be useful. I certainly wish that the novice programers I've worked with knew that stuff.

Each thing is a two page article on a specific subject. For example:

- Write Tests for People
Jul 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
for beginners maybe. but i did not learn anything from it. some chapters are about the same thing with different title. basically if you are in dev for more than 5 years - don't wast your time on it. ...more
Dec 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Not all essays will apply to you (I didn't need to be convinced of the benefits of code reviewing), but there's something here for every programmer. None of us are perfect; we could all stand to learn something new or improve on something. This book is like a thoughtful performance evaluation that inspires you to step up your game. And write more tests, dammit.

I'd recommend this for all programmers, especially those who don't think they need to read this.
Julio Biason
Mar 29, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: it, ibooks
It's kinda weird to read a book that your experience agrees with what it is said: I have a collection of things I learnt in 30 years doing software development, and a lot of things said in the book agree with it.

Now, because there are several authors, the writing style changes a lot: Some are really dense and difficult to follow, some others are simple and fun to read, and some feel really repetitive.

One of the downsides of the book is that they should get a more diverse group. Sure, Uncle Bob i
Logesh Paul
Aug 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: programming, ebook
97 tips from experienced professionals (two pages each) about the software development process in general.

The tips cover a large variety of topics: programming, debugging, code review, deployment, testing, self-improvement, attitude, design patterns, communication, performance, DRY, etc.,

It's not very detailed, best suitable for intermediate programmers. Some of the topics (like version control, commit history, comments, testing, agile, etc.,) may act as a quick refresher for advanced programmer
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was ok
I don’t like the book. I didn’t learn much from reading it.

It’s not the authors' topics that are bad, but reading 97s of 2-page random things is a bad way to gain deep programming insight. I could do better reading some programming blogs on the internet.

For example, comparing reading the “Clean Code” vs reading three things in this book written by Robert C. Martin. As a person who already finished both, I learned almost nothing from the latter. This book is pretty shallow on the topics.
Jun 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Too short, most of these aren't even concise, just naming and describing the problem or idea but not delivering actual advice. It's more like a guideline checklist for beginners (though i know experienced developers, who don't follow most basic principles listed here) on what to dig deeper. ...more
Aug 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: tech
The "Beware the Share" chapter by Udi Dahan resonated with me. I also now buy into version control.
p. 14
"It was my first project at the company. I'd just finished my degree and was anxious to prove myself, staying late every day going through the existing code. As I worked through my first feature, I took extra care to put in place everything I had learned - commenting, logging, pulling out shared code into libraries where possible, the works. The code review that I had felt so ready for came as
Nov 01, 2019 added it
Shelves: 2019
I started reading this book with fair amount of skepticism. Just looking at the cover, it is hard to miss how a large percentage of contributors are white and/or male. It has also been 9 years since the book came out and there has been quite a few changes in how the industry operates and the kinds of technology people are working with. There were definitely essays that probably were very useful at the time they were written and the advice wasn't followed as broadly but industry has improved and ...more
Galileo Valiente
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you are an experienced programmer already, the lessons in this book might be known to you already but it never hurts to know these ideas even if it simply validates what you already believe in. If you already know all these, then you might probably be leading rookie programmers, so save yourself time and tell them to read this book before their rookie mistakes become your responsibility.

Sure this book is not be-all and end-all of programming but it does give you the foundations on what to lo
If you bought this, then you've wasted money, regardless of your level of expertise.

If you're a novice who's just starting out or a developer who wants to find out more about best practices, find books that target the areas you're looking to improve on; they will be way more useful by providing concrete and specific examples.

If you're an expert looking for a refresher, just about any software development blogs, sites, or forums that you've been following (you are doing this, right?) will give yo
Joerg Rings
Jan 26, 2015 rated it liked it
97 very short pieces all containing little insights into what makes one a better programmer, written by a field of experienced programmers - mostly white dudes.
It's a short read, and definitely worth going through. There is a lot of good insight. I would say 60% of the pieces contain a valuable message - do testing. be careful of this usual pattern in testing because here's an anecdote where it failed. don't use this pattern. The other 40% I would say suffer from programmer's arrogance a bit too
Mark Seemann
May 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: software
After having first read 97 Things Every Software Architect Should Know, I at least found this one more interesting.

As could be expected, the Every [...] Should Know part of the title is quite a stretch, but there's some good advice here and there.

I would have expected more stuff like Understand the difference between a decimal and a floating point number, or Beware of invisible unicode points, such as byte-order marks (cost me half a day, once), but most of the articles were focused on the (inte
Aug 23, 2010 rated it liked it
If you're a programmer, you should definitely read this book through at least once. I'd say about 25% of the book was not directly relevant to me, 50% was something I was already quite familiar with, but that remaining 25% was excellent material that made me think in new ways. Each essay is only 2 pages, so you won't go in-depth on any topic, but it will hopefully spark your desire to learn more.

One critique of the book is how it's organized. It appears that the 97 items are simply listed alphab
Jan 25, 2015 rated it liked it
The book lacks something which would glue those 97 pieces together. It isn't well-structured and some things are already outdated. 97 Things might be good for a beginning programmer to show him what he already knows and what issues should he read about. All information are very brief and to get a good grip on the selected topic you must search for some other books. ...more
Sep 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A must read for programmers. after reading 2 or three pages you will start to like it.
Jun 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really like books with these small tips for your daily basis work, you start using it without even realising, which is great and this book is one of these.

“97 Things Every Programmer Should Know” is a book that each single “Thing” is written by a different author, and these authors are some very well known developers in the industry.

These are my favourites notes from this book:

Technical debt is like a loan: you benefit from it in the short term, but you have to pay interest on it until it is f
Florentin Cosmin
This book contains 97 tips from experienced professionals about the software development process in general, each one succintly described in less than two pages.

The advices cover a large variety of topics: programming (pay attention to the warnings also, learn the tricks and shortcuts in your IDE, design a readable API for your methods, have separate exception handling for framework and bussiness logic exceptions, write only usefull comments), deployment (deploy the solution early and often, av
Reza K.
Sep 26, 2017 rated it liked it
well, this book consists of 97 two-page tip and experiences about software development. some are about habits, some are about best practices, some are about the way you should look at things, etc. it was of course worth reading. somehow i can say it is essential to every programmer. but of course there's a best-time-to-read-this-book. I think coders with less than 1 year have some more important stuff to do: work. the things mentioned in this book will have their best effect, when the reader has ...more
Ali Izadi
Feb 26, 2019 rated it liked it
These kinds of books have a major problem: Because it contains words from different people, it doesn't have a specific structure and connection between its parts and after reading it just some keywords remain in your mind. But in general, it is useful because you understand important subjects in programming that you should learn but surely you feel that you need another sourcebook to follow that subject and efficiently learn it. I recommend this book for undergraduate students who want to start ...more
Apr 29, 2019 rated it liked it
I found some tips a bit dated and others a bit enterprise-y (esp as it pertained to the division of roles between different types of developers), but overall worth the read. For those who have already read a couple of programming best practices books or been programming professionally for a couple years with a critical eye, you are unlikely to discover anything very new.

I did find a number of points not worth reading or unnecessarily verbose and easily boiled down into a bullet point or two.
Fred Tyre
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great book. I really enjoy the stories that go along with the bit of wisdom mentioned. Although I agree that all programmers should know these things, no one environment can fit into the mold that would allow for all scenarios in this book to work out positively. I work for a small enough team that we don't have a QA department, for instance. Still, the book is a fun read and has some good tidbits to remember. ...more
James Prince
Mar 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
A significant amount of the advice within is stuff that is drilled into computer science undergrads in one way or another.

Perhaps the articles were a lot more groundbreaking back when this book was released, and haven’t retained their edge due to the fast pace of the field.

I’d be interested in seeing a refreshed version of this book which collects more recent articles that might introduce some more up to date thinking.
May 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
I recorded my favorite experiences from the book to which i relate to the most. It was an interesting read and i tried to note down experiences which i relate to most in my day to day activities.
For those interested have a listen here:

For those who want to read here is my blog post:
Jay Vercellone
Sep 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Each one of these "advises" should be treated as a trigger for one to dive deeper into the topic.

These advises or principles seem obvious but I've seen several so-called "senior/principal" engineers (especially within one of the FAANG's) that do not follow or don't even know about them. It's nice to have a book like this articulate them for you so you can improve your own organization's practices.
William Yip
May 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
Most of the advice was common sense and some of the advice was a repeat of previous ones. However, they are very important to keep in mind in order to have a great programming career: collaborate with other people such as by pair programming with other developers or creating test cases with the QA people, keep code simple, write unit tests, automate coding processes, always keep learning, write good comments that helps people understand the code, practice outside of work, etc.
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