Coders at Work: Reflections on the Craft of Programming

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Coders at Work written by Peter Seibel is a fantastic book of interviews of fifteen very famous programmers. Audience of the book is clearly programmers with experience programming as the book can at times get fairly rich with technical details about compilers, IDE’s, etc.

The book contains some fairly lengthy interviews, but reads fairly quickly, that are usually very interesting although a few I did not finish reading because of profanity or lack of interest (women in technology related.)

Seibel asks each “coder” a series of similar questions, and then usually branched off into their particular interests or whatever they were famous for. Seibel’s questions are very open ended which allowed for some very good discussion. One of the best questions that Seibel asks is perhaps about how the programmer reads source code, some of the answers were really quite enlightening because they went against how I would have approached the problem.

Crockford, for example, spends a fairly large amount of time discussing JavaScript and some of the pitfalls with it. One of the underlying themes that most of the interviewees seem to bring up is that we should make things simpler, less coupled, and to stop reinventing the wheel.

The book suffers in a few ways from absolutely terrible binding, paper that feels extremely cheap (newspaper ?), and sometimes very broad questions that make the reader feel fairly uninterested. The book is mostly a look into historical programming, and doesn’t contain any newer technologies like .NET, RoR, etc so if you are only interested in the past don’t bother reading this book.

Author: Brian Cline

Brian is a programmer living in Niagara Falls with ten years of development experience. He is passionate about automation, business process re-engineering, and gamification. For the last six years or so, he has been working with Salesforce and JavaScript.

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