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The Art of Readable Code

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  515 ratings  ·  64 reviews
As programmers, we’ve all seen source code that’s so ugly and buggy it makes our brain ache. Over the past five years, authors Dustin Boswell and Trevor Foucher have analyzed hundreds of examples of "bad code" (much of it their own) to determine why they’re bad and how they could be improved. Their conclusion? You need to write code that minimizes the time it would take ...more
Paperback, 204 pages
Published November 23rd 2011 by O'Reilly Media (first published September 15th 2010)
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Brandon Miller
Jan 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: cs-books
Nice quick read with lots of ideas. I don't think you could possibly remember half of their guidelines even on the third read-through. Maybe that's just me, though.
Quite possibly the most entertaining code book, but that's more due to the chapter-heading cartoons (a few of which were surprisingly funny) more than the text itself.
One thing that was annoying was the authors' attempt to include examples from seemingly every language ever conceived. I knew the python, recognized some C, got totally
Mar 06, 2012 rated it liked it
Good advice for the more junior developer. Maybe not the epic tome of dogmatic sledgehammery that is "Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship", by SOLID Uncle Bob Martin.

Definitely easier to practice these tenents however. Clear, clean, approachable.

Rajkumar Pagey
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: computer-science
1. Think of a variable name as a tiny comment. A good name can contain lot of information.
2. Aesthetically pleasing code is easier to read. Format your code in a consistent and meaningful way.
3. Put yourself in the reader's shoes. Think about what to comment, what not to comment and what the reader needs to know and how to convey that information in the least amount of space.
4. Instead of minimizing the number of lines, minimize the time needed for someone to understand it. Break down complex
Jul 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tech
Boswell & Foucher lay out a lot of useful tips and step-by-step examples demonstrating the “art of readable code”. While the purpose of the book is not to teach the art of architecture or design patterns, the essential basics are covered: naming variables, including comments, formatting code (e.g., column alignment, blocks, logic order, etc), simplifying loops, etc. Sure, many of these things may seem intuitive or could have been figured out on-the-job but if not, this is a great place to ...more
Erika RS
Jan 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned, physical, software
This is an excellent book that focuses on one thing and describes it well. This book is not about grand methods of software engineering or code architecture. It is, as the title indicates, about writing readable code. Boswell and Foucher cover the small things that can be done to make code easier to read, and they discuss why their suggestions generally make code more readable.

The content here is not unique. Much of it can be found in Code Complete or Clean Code. Rather, it is the narrow focus
Mike Thompson
I'll be the first to admit some of the code I've written is ridiculously difficult to read. I didn't judge the quality of my code by how readable it was. "The Art of Readable Code" isn't the first book I've read that teaches the importance of writing code so that it can be read and understood. It is a good first book to read on the topic. It is well organized, taking the reader from localized concerns, such as picking good names, through structuring logic in a method, to partitioning algorithms. ...more
Elene Latsoshvili
Mar 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: programming
At first I was sceptical about reading this book, as I think there are just few rules for readable code and they are completely obvious (I am just a bit lazy to follow them). But its illustrated jokes got my attention and I ended up reading it. The rules are backed up with nice examples from real applications. It inspires to refactor and write cleaner code.
Kiril Kirilov
Dec 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sd
It is from 2010, but already feels a little bit outdated. Probably needs new edition - with more functional style examples.
Nikolay Manolov
May 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Simple, clear, and enjoyable.
The book contains tons of nice short examples.
It revises things we have read about in "Refactoring", "Clean Code", and "Code Complete".
Mattias Lundell
Feb 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
A lot of 'common sense' but still a decent book.
Toshiya TSURU
Jan 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Code Complete 2nd Edition
/ Steve McConnell

Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code
/ Martin Fowler, Kent Beck, John Brant, William Opdyke, Don Roberts

The Practice of Programming
/ Brian W. Kernighan

The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master
/ Andrew Hunt, David Thomas

Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship
/ Robert C. Martin
Risto Hinno
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great tips and reminder of writing more readable code. Easy to follow and should be suitable for most people who can write code at some level (book is pretty much language agnostic). Quick hacks are solution for today but problem tomorrow (who doesn't have had situation when he/she doesn't understand code which he/she wrote few months ago). Writing more readable code doesn't mean you have to be a senior developer. Everybody writing code should try to make code more readable (if you work alone ...more
Miguel Alho
Mar 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
A great book and a quick read. I'm reading it with 15 years of dev-ing anda after having read Clean Code. The book goes through some things that seem obvious, but that I can notice we rasily overlook. The use of "get" in method names is one of them in my case. I think this is one of those books that can be read every so often just to keep you on track to writting good code.

It overlaps on a few topics with Clean Code and A Philosophy of Software Design, but in that sense it's worth going through
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is built on the idea that a key goal for code you write should be readability, or the ease of understanding. The authors then go through a lot of different ways you can improve the readability of your code, giving examples in C++ and Python. Some of the points you'll no doubt already be following, but I suspect that just about everyone will find food for thought here. Reminds me of the Refactoring book. Only 180 pages, but packs a lot in. Recommended.
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Essential read for a junior developer. Please be one of the good guys that writes proper code. Likely a book to revisit over the course of a few years to learn and unlearn things each time. Last few chapters are a bit fluffy and overly focused on details. Perhaps my opinion will shift when I plan to reread it in 6 months.
Elias Daler
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017
Pretty good book.

Short and concise, full of useful advice. Most of the things are pretty obvious once you've read about them in "Code Complete" or "Clean Code", but there are still some things which will be new for the reader.
Sep 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Good entry-level stuff, and introduces the higher purpose of "making your code readable". Nothing groundbreaking here, though, after reading something like Clean Code.
Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Light and fun read, really enjoyed.
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
It is similar to the goal of The Clean Code, it has many good ideas to improve your source code. It should read it and feel your own.
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is a really good book for having ideas about coding best practices.
It is short, objective and well written.
bob cyberchrist
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: programming
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2017
A book I want to read more than once.
Mar 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
excellent for all levels .. especially if youve forgotten some of the basics. Will re-read again to refresh the tips for sure
Adrian Li
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's a pretty good book that covers a lot of good coding practices. I read this book in an afternoon, it was a surprisingly quick read.

Some examples are in C++/Java/Python, and sometimes even Javascript. Nevertheless, it never gets too language-specific that you would be confused.

Here are some of the main points that I took away from it:

1. The one thing you must focus on is reducing the "time till understanding." This means, how much time it takes for someone else (with zero knowledge of your
Dec 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: computer
In engineering, it is often easy to forget that as much as we deal with things that are determined and immutable laws of nature, while the subject we study may be science, our practice of it is an art. And to be good at an art, one needs to master the use of the tools, not only in the sense of understanding its instructions, but as a craftman. When I was just learning computer programming while in high school, I used to openly wonder about my teacher’s concern about aesthetics. But now, with a ...more
Sundarraj Kaushik
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
A must read for all entering the portals of software development, irrespective of the technology. The book covers how to write readable code.
1. Naming and commenting code are covered in the first section
2. Simplifying loops and control flow is covered in the second section
3. Reorganizing the code to remove duplication and bring Single Responsibility is the covered in the third section
4. The fourth section is about writing good test cases. It also gives a sample project to execute on how the code
Sep 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those sharpen-the-saw kinda reads. At ~200 pages, it was a rather quick read as I have quite a bit of programming experience. While I was nodding at most of the advice/prescriptions in the book, it did spend time with few prescription as either they were in a language that I don't frequently use or they made we wonder if I needed to calibrate my past observations with them. Now, if someone had just learned how to program in a language and was eager to code, then I strongly suggest ...more
Jun 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Good, digestible guidance for programmers at my level, i.e. folks who are interested enough in code but could benefit from some nudging towards better coding habits. It's a short little book, which works to its advantage; I'd crawled through the first chapters of The Pragmatic Programmer and then kind of abandoned it, while I got though this book in a few weeks.

I think even the most basic principle in this book- "write your code to minimize the amount of time someone else would need to
Ivan Morgillo
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Easy to follow. Full of useful tips. A must-read for every programmer.
Apr 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: type-ebook, 2014
This was a very nerdy book. And that's saying a lot, coming from me. I liked how clearly it was written; I doubt the authors would have much credibility if the book was a mess. Some of the recommendations are common sense, but others were a bit more subtle. The examples really help to illustrate the concepts and I will refer to this book in the future to help make my code better. Unfortunately, I feel like anyone who takes the initiative to read this book probably doesn't need it as much as ...more
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“Code should be written to minimize the time it would take for someone else to understand it.” 0 likes
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