Straight from the cover, it’s clear that this is not a usual ‘software book’. The Best Software Writing I is a collection of weblog posts from 2004, hand picked by Joel Spolsky. This book is a true mirror of the blogging community, displaying all the variety of Web – articles range from three picture comics to 15 page essays, coming straight from the minds of programming celebrities like Ken Arnold, Bruce Eckel and Ron Jeffries, but also people of whom you probably never heard and some who even remained anonymous. With such mix-and-match combination this book covers typical software topics like coding style, usability and overtime, but also lessons learned from project failures, appraisals of great hackers, transaction management strategies in coffee shops and software autism.
The book lives up to it’s title and truly is a great collection of thoughts, rants, insights and humor. It not something that will grab your attention and push you to read it from cover to cover in a single breath, but rather like web itself, allows you to jump from topic to topic, tuning in and out at your convenience.
An obvious question raised by the very concept of this book is why should someone pay for content that can be freely downloaded – in my eyes, having such gems compiled, cleaned from the weblog trash of ‘top 10 ways’, ‘best 5 libraries’ or ‘worst 7 mistakes’, and packed into less than 300 pages of paper which you can carry while commuting, is well worth it.
The I in the title suggests that this book was intended to be first in a series, but it seems that the sequel was not yet published – it would really be a shame if APress do not follow this up with Best Software Writing II.