Found in 26 comments on Hacker News
TowerTall · 2023-02-28 · Original thread
I would start with reading another book. It is called "Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction" by Steve Mcconnell[1]. Don't let the age of the book scare you. The advices given by this book is in large parts timeless and you will find if very inspiring and a great help to improve your code. At my former place of work, this book was given to all new coders (regardless of experience level) on their first day at work and their first task was to read it.


curiousEagle · 2022-02-18 · Original thread
Some examples of "quality engineering practices" would be in my mind:

- Believes most business logic doesn't belong in models/controllers

- Understands the importance of naming things (classes, variables, etc.) well

- Writes tests, even if not fully TDD

- Intelligently applies SOLID engineering principles

^^ this type of thing.

I think the books "Code Complete" [0] and "Practical Object-Oriented Design: An Agile Primer Using Ruby" [1] embody a lot of what I'm looking for, if you're familiar with them.



Edit: Formatting

au750 · 2019-09-09 · Original thread

If you want to be a generalist, you may want to learn things which are useful independently of the programming language.

Some books that would qualify in my opinion (as examples):

- Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction, Second Edition by Steve McConnell

- Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering by Robert L. Glass

Learning the different approches taken by multiple programming languages is certainly useful. It may not be that much relevant which language it is unless you want a job specifically in that language.

I can't speak for Google but I guess it is more relevant how familiar you are with software development practices and general knowledge about architecture, design, testing, algorithms to name a few than a specific language.

maynman · 2019-01-12 · Original thread
Speaking from a software engineering perspective, here are a few that I found really valuable. I've seen them recommended by people I respect on many occasions.

Code Complete by Steve McConnell

The Mythical Man Month by Frederick Brooks

ToFab123 · 2018-12-23 · Original thread
You could refresh your memories from the time before you started to complicate stuff by reading (or rereading) the marvelous book "code complete"

fdsvnsmvas · 2018-09-10 · Original thread
Thanks everyone, the comments are much appreciated. Here's a list of books and other media resources recommended so far in the thread:

Robert C. Martin, Clean code:

Vaughn Vernon, various:

Steve McConnell, Code Complete: 2

Clean coder: videos

Hunt and Thomas, The Pragmatic Programmer:

Hitchhiker's Guide to Python:

Dustin Boswell The Art of Readable Code:

John Ousterhout, A Philosophy of Software Design: This one looks particularly interesting, thanks AlexCoventry!

Kent Beck, Test Driven Development:

Dan Bader, Python Tricks: The Book:

Ian Sommerville, Software Engineering:

Svilen Dobrev, various:

W0lf · 2017-06-05 · Original thread
I've gathered all the book titles in this thread and created Amazon affiliate links (if you don't mind. Otherwise you still have all the titles together :-) )

A Pattern Language, Alexander and Ishikawa and Silverstein

Advanced Programming in the Unix Environment , Stevens

Algorithmics: the Spirit of Computing, Harel

Applied Crytography, Wiley

Clean Code, Martin

Clean Coder, Martin

Code Complete, McConnel

Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software, Petzold

Coders at Work, Seibel

Compilers: Principles, Techniques, & Tools, Aho

Computer Systems: A Programmer's Perspective, O'Hallaron and Bryant

Data Flow Analysis: Theory and Practice, Khedker

Dependency Injection in .NET, Seemann

Domain Driven Design, Evans

Fundamentals of Wireless Communication, Tse and Viswanath

Genetic Programming: An Intrduction, Banzhaf

Head First Design Patterns, O'Reilly

Implementing Domain-Driven Design, Vernon

Intrduction to Algorithms, CLRS

Introduction to General Systems Thinking, Weinberg

Joy of Clojure, Fogus and Houser

Let over Lambda, Hoyte

Operating Systems: Design and Implementation, Tanenbaum

Parsing Techniques, Grune and Jacobs

Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams, DeMarco and Lister

Programming Pearls, Bentley

Software Process Design: Out of the Tar Pit, McGraw-Hill

Software Runaways, Glass

Sorting and Searching, Knuth

Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, Abelson and Sussman

The Art of Unit Testing, Manning

The Art of Unix Programming, ESR

The Design of Design: Essays from a Computer Scientist, Brooks

The Effective Engineer, Lau

The Elements of Style, Strunk and White

The Healthy Programmer, Kutner

The Linux Programming Interface, Kerrisk

The Mythical Man-Month, Brooks

The Practice of Programming, Kernighan and Pike

The Pragmatic Programmer, Hunt and Thomas

The Psychology of Computer Programming, Weinberg

Transaction Processing: Concepts and Techniques, Gray and Reuter

Types and Programming Languages, Pierce

Understanding MySQL Internals, Pachev

Working Effectively with Legacy Code, Feathers

Zen of graphics programming, Abrash

makeset · 2017-06-03 · Original thread
Code Complete by Steve McConnell
scrumper · 2015-12-11 · Original thread
My favorite general guidebook for writing good, readable, maintainable, defensive code is "Code Complete":

It isn't domain specific but there is so much good advice in there around variable naming, code structure, general principles of bug-resistant coding that you will get a tremendous amount from it.

If I only had one suggestion it would be:

That book should be required reading for anyone on either side of the commonly asked question, "How do we build this?"

Maybe a second - it's a bit old (and almost 1000 pages) - but much of McConnell's CodeComplete2 still applies and has lots of great insights for software PM's:

[edit grammer]

codyb · 2015-01-05 · Original thread
As well as the extensively reviewed, recommended, and appraised "Code Complete" [0] by Steve McConnell

I'm working my way through it now (1+ year of professional experience) and it is a magnificent way to improve the quality of your code. I read it off and on, my goal is only 40 pages a week so that I'll make sure to find the time to do it (I'm doing a masters program and enjoy living in NYC too so setting huge goals doesn't work well for me).

Every time I crack it open, I find myself inspired to write better, clearer, and more concise code. Sometimes you just need a nudge to get back into doing things you already know you should be doing.

Finally, constantly learning, I think, is the best way to become a proficient, and then skillful professional software engineer. Many programmers become proficient and then level off. And that's good enough. But if you truly wanted to become one of the top 5% in your field you need to do something called deliberate practice. Reading 'Talent is Overrated' [1] really exposed me to the theory of constantly challenging yourself in order to grow. I really recommend it, I find myself trying to apply the theories to all areas of my life.

[0] -

[1] -

joezydeco · 2014-11-06 · Original thread
Steve McConnell's Code Complete might be a good resource. Could you buy a copy for each team member and take an hour each week to read and discuss a chapter? That might get you on the road to better coding practices.

brudgers · 2014-08-20 · Original thread
Code Complete: A Practical Handbook for Software Construction is considered one of the language agnostic classics on computer programming. It focuses on higher level concepts as they relate to the process and sequence of writing code. It covers just enough architecture and design to provide context and allow one to think intelligently about it.

[affiliate link]

[non-affiliate link]

lukasm · 2014-05-16 · Original thread
Code Complete has pretty good bang per page, especially if you are beginner.

doorhammer · 2014-03-04 · Original thread
Code Complete 2 [1] was one of the first coding books I've read. As with anything else, it's good to look around (HN is a good place) for people who have problems with the book. I think I learn as much reading the commentary people make about books like that as I do from the book itself.

I think I've listened to every podcast on software engineering radio a few times [2]. The older ones are especially nice because they usually pick a specific topic and cover the high points. I liked that I could listen to it while I was driving, or otherwise not in front of a computer.

It's specific, but Javascript: The Good Parts is probably the most used book I have on my shelf. It has such a perfect amount of usable information in it. It's pretty great. Again, it's definitely worth looking up critiques and counterpoints.

I've also got Introduction to Algorithms, which I use as a reference, sometimes. I switched over to The Algorithm Design Manual [5] after I saw it referenced in an older Steve Yegge post [6]. I read through the intro and it seemed like a book that would be more appropriate from an autodidactic standpoint. I really have no idea if that's going to pan out, since I'm not that far into it, but we'll see, for sure. Doesn't kill me to have an extra algorithms book laying about, though, and I've always got intro to algorithms for cross reference. I've found that I really need to have as many sources available as possible when I'm learning alone. Usually I don't get something until the fifth person describes it from the tenth different angle.

That's most of what I can think of off hand. I really enjoyed The Joy of Clojure [7], though haven't checked out the newer version. Programming Collective Intelligence [8] is a fun book, and is what made me want to go back down the maths route to get more into machine learning.

And of course habitually reading hacker news for an hour or three every night :)

So that's my totally inexpert list of random stuff that I enjoy

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]

joe_the_user · 2014-02-07 · Original thread
When you start your post with "I have a high IQ so programming's easy for me", I indeed believe that working with other people might be a problem for you.

But I would still add that I'm doubtful that someone can work on large projects and not have communicating and working with other people be an actual part of programming (rather than that "other problem", "people").

If your projects need you to produce code that other people will modify, I would claim that your coding is going to be a matter of communication. Perhaps you write one-shot firmware for toasters or missiles so this doesn't apply. But I think any student of programming in general tends to see the task as a process of communication and not just cleverness. On this subject, I'd recommend Steve McConnell's Code complete.

sjclemmy · 2013-01-04 · Original thread
I did the same; taught myself css, php, javascript and quit my FTJ last Christmas. Best thing I ever did.

I also sent the following as advice to someone wanting to get into web dev:

"I was just thinking of 'easy ins' to the world of web development and a good source of information is there's a lot of information from people who work in the world of tech startups and it's good information.

Also - if you are wanting to do php dev the key things to learn are: Software engineering techniques and practice - object oriented development and abstract patterns are key to how to think about good development. Database design and development (1st normal form, third normal form etc) Learn SQL. (SQL for dummies or similar is good for the basic commands and syntax etc.) - it's the best source of help for software development on the internet. read books, the ones that come up again and again when people talk about learning to program:

also - look at - that's where programmers keep their source code.

Learn about Object Oriented Programming, Design Patterns, MVC (which is a design pattern) is specifcally useful for web development.

Also - demand for javascript programmers will increase over the coming years because of things like jQuery and Ajax.

That's my starter for ten - if you are interested in a career as a web programmer.

If you want to focus more on the html/css design side you could do worse than focusing on one CMS - such as wordpress and learning it inside out - you could then offer that to clients and it's a good way to provide web sites cheaply with very little effort."

facorreia · 2012-12-10 · Original thread
I got around this mindset along the years, by learning about the importance of lowering the maintenance costs, improving collaboration and not depending on any single person to understand any given module or system.

Books such as "Code Complete"[1] and "Clean Code"[2] should help you with that transition.



robomartin · 2012-11-27 · Original thread
OK, if you don't have any real experience in low-level embedded coding (relevant to device drivers), RTOS or OS design in general, file systems, data structures, algorithms, interfaces, etc. And, if you have "hobby level" experience with Assembler, C and C++. And, if your intent is to write a desktop OS, from the ground up, without making use of existing technologies, drivers, file systems, memory management, POSIX, etc. Here's a list of books that could be considered required reading before you can really start to write specifications and code. Pick twenty of these and that might be a good start.

In no particular order:






















































54- ...well, I'll stop here.

Of course, the equivalent knowledge can be obtained by trial-and-error, which would take longer and might result in costly errors and imperfect design. The greater danger here is that a sole developer, without the feedback and interaction of even a small group of capable and experienced programmers could simply burn a lot of time repeating the mistakes made by those who have already trenched that territory.

If the goal is to write a small RTOS on a small but nicely-featured microcontroller, then the C books and the uC/OS book might be a good shove in the right direction. Things start getting complicated if you need to write such things as a full USB stack, PCIe subsystem, graphics drivers, etc.

lars512 · 2012-02-20 · Original thread
Steve McConnell's book "Code Complete" was an eye-opener for me. It also has a whole chapter on variable naming, and is worth a read.

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