Sunday, February 14, 2010

book review: beautiful code

It's always disappointing when a book with such a great potential falls short, and sadly Beautiful Code: Leading Programmers Explain How They Think (Theory in Practice (O'Reilly)) is a victim of a great idea with a poor execution.

The basic idea was to get a bunch of great programmers together and have them tell stories about their experiences in the real world: developing a new system, learning the value of reading other people's code, squeezing every ounce of performance out of some critical code, or being inspired to implement some clever new algorithm. This would had worked wonderfully if they had just limited the number of people that contributed to the book. Instead they crammed over 30 people into 500 plus pages, and ended up with about 16 pages each.


This book tried to soar to such great heights and suffered the fate of Icarus. If only they had picked 10 programmers and given them each 50 pages, this could have been a book with some real meat. Instead the brief chapters feel like a series of taste tests collected while wandering around the supermarket -- too brief and unsatisfying to call a meal. Sorry, but this one is not worth reading.

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