Hot Best Seller

Joel on Software

Availability: Ready to download

Someone once said that the task of a writer is to "make the familiar new and the new familiar". For years, Joel Spolsky has done exactly this at www.joelonsoftware.com. Now, for the first time, you can own a collection of the most important essays from his site in one book, with exclusive commentary and new insights from joel.

*advertisement

Compare

Someone once said that the task of a writer is to "make the familiar new and the new familiar". For years, Joel Spolsky has done exactly this at www.joelonsoftware.com. Now, for the first time, you can own a collection of the most important essays from his site in one book, with exclusive commentary and new insights from joel.

30 review for Joel on Software

  1. 4 out of 5

    Fayçal

    Most tech books get old and out-of-date with time. However I learned plenty of stuff from Joel on Software and enjoyed the author's humour and approach on many topics. Here's a non-exhaustive list of things I learned (more) about: - Always have a bug tracking system. - Fix bugs first before you move on to working on new features. Saves lots of time. - The Joel Test. I need to score better at that. - Character encodings. I always got away with not knowing much about that, now I do. Thanks Joel :D. - Do Most tech books get old and out-of-date with time. However I learned plenty of stuff from Joel on Software and enjoyed the author's humour and approach on many topics. Here's a non-exhaustive list of things I learned (more) about: - Always have a bug tracking system. - Fix bugs first before you move on to working on new features. Saves lots of time. - The Joel Test. I need to score better at that. - Character encodings. I always got away with not knowing much about that, now I do. Thanks Joel :D. - Do paper prototyping. - Incentive pay. Don't do that. - Avoid multi-tasking. Humans aren't really good at it. - Not-Invented-Here Syndrome. It's not necessarily bad. - Chicken-And-Egg problems in the software world. There's a sequel: More Joel on Software, I might read it sometime. Quotes: I always wanted to start a blog, this is somewhat of a motivation. [...] Philip Greenspun, who taught me that if you know something, you need to publish it on the web for others to learn from. Rewarding good coders by promoting them to a different position, one that involves writing English, not C++, is a classic case of the Peter Principle: people tend to be promoted to their level of incompetence. About the Not-Invented-Here Syndrome: If it's a core business function, do it yourself, no matter what.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tim Poston

    In one sense, I haven't read the book, as the book. In another sense, I've read it, as the essays on line. Now, I'll buy it. Very few people in IT can think so clearly or so deeply, and very few can write so clearly. Beautiful.

  3. 4 out of 5

    David

    If Jerry Seinfeld had decided to become a software professional, he might have written something like this. He observes the things that software developers and their colleagues do, skewers those practices with humor, and then says how it really ought to be done. Sometimes I agree with him, sometimes I didn't, but I like his writing well enough that it seemed worth buying a copy of the book. Most of the articles in the book are also available online on Spolsky's blog, but as I seem to recall from If Jerry Seinfeld had decided to become a software professional, he might have written something like this. He observes the things that software developers and their colleagues do, skewers those practices with humor, and then says how it really ought to be done. Sometimes I agree with him, sometimes I didn't, but I like his writing well enough that it seemed worth buying a copy of the book. Most of the articles in the book are also available online on Spolsky's blog, but as I seem to recall from his introductory observations, at least a book won't electrocute you if you have a mishap while reading in the bathroom.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Erkin Unlu

    It is surprisingly refreshing to find out that Joel's thoughts about how software should be developed nearly fifteen years ago have all been accomplished and further advanced. It is also funny to read about how Microsoft will lose the API wars (they lost it to the Web and Mobile) but still stay strong (which is still true).

  5. 5 out of 5

    Adnan Ali

    Treat it like the Bible. Take only the good stuff out of it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Andreea Lucau

    I really enjoyed reading this book, even if Joel was kind of obsessed with Microsoft and Netscape. I like the little stories about problems he faces building his own company and learning about mistakes that compromise a business - not software bugs, but strategy bugs. My things to remember from this book are: know who your customers are and pay attention to what they need/want.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Luís Soares

    Joel does not play well with mumbo-jumbo. Illustrative software development real stories told with a fine sense of humor. Joel seems to be a great developer and software manager, which is hard to find. Every developer and manager should read it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Narayana

    One of the best contemporary books on software engineering. Though a bit outdated (articles from early 2000s), the concepts and ideas are extremely valid. Got a lot of new perspectives from this book. Must read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Otis Chandler

    Joel's a windows coder - but a smart one. Its actually interesting to hear about that side of things, as usually I'm just turning my nose up at it :) A good read for any programmer.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alasdair Craig

    I really wanted to like this book more than I did because I'm a big fan of Spolsky. A lot of the content I'd read before from his blog, which I'm OK with and was fully expecting. However it really jumps all over the place. (I suppose the expanded title does allude to that.) The second half is decidedly random, doesn't follow on neatly from the first, and seems to have been added as an afterthought. The book stops so abruptly with no conclusion but a Q&A chapter where both the questions and a I really wanted to like this book more than I did because I'm a big fan of Spolsky. A lot of the content I'd read before from his blog, which I'm OK with and was fully expecting. However it really jumps all over the place. (I suppose the expanded title does allude to that.) The second half is decidedly random, doesn't follow on neatly from the first, and seems to have been added as an afterthought. The book stops so abruptly with no conclusion but a Q&A chapter where both the questions and answers I feel haven't really stood the test of time. I'm glad I bought it, his writing is very entertaining, and I'm still a big fan - but I give it only 3 stars.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Reid

    A fair bit out of date at this point, but that's one thing that makes it interesting - he made predictions about technology that are coming true (or not) right around now ("We'll never use [cloud-based] document storage!"; ("When we all have 100mbps internet..."). In any case, a lot of it is not really out of date or style - the software project management aspects in particular. He also drinks the Microsoft kool-aid, so prepare to hear a lot about .NET and Excel. I'm gonna go catch up on his blog.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tiago

    More than a collection of software engineering thoughts, this book describes a collection of experiences from several years of working in software engineering companies, starting as intern at Microsoft Excel's team, to his own company Fog Creek. Reading it in 2018, 14 years after it was first published, it's still valuable as it was back then, as most of the lessons still apply (some of them I can relate with my own experience as software engineering). There's a lot to learn from these lessons an More than a collection of software engineering thoughts, this book describes a collection of experiences from several years of working in software engineering companies, starting as intern at Microsoft Excel's team, to his own company Fog Creek. Reading it in 2018, 14 years after it was first published, it's still valuable as it was back then, as most of the lessons still apply (some of them I can relate with my own experience as software engineering). There's a lot to learn from these lessons and Joel provides lots of interesting links and book references, making it a must read for young software engineers and a great read for others. Some of the lessons I personally relate to are: * his thoughts about using .net as new shiny technology around (in my case wasn't .net but other), how upgrade was being planned, and particularly, how he felt he was not able to write good code even though he had many years of software development under his belt. * painless functional specs (the importance of having clear specs that other developers can use to implement their code and how that can save countless of hours - specially in endless code reviews, which are too late to make changes anyways) * fixing bugs vs. delivering features/value. Notes to self: it's noticeable that Joel has read many many books about software engineering (technical and non-technical). Evidence was his statement that he read all self-published books from MS employees. It would be interesting to learn his thoughts now about some of the topics he wrote (e.g. Microsoft strategy and how it stands, web applications and where are we heading now, how to cope with even bigger set o technologies/libraries/tools that are appearing everyday).

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ant

    Great book, a bit dated now but interesting to see how some of his ideas went with regards to Microsoft's business directions. Totally love his style and he's obviously a smart cookie who knows his stuff both as a programmer and a project manager. His wit is very engaging and turns even the driest discussions about API's into something of a comedy. Spolsky talks from first hand experience, he's no theoretician which ironically allows him room to theorize quite accurately given the retrospective v Great book, a bit dated now but interesting to see how some of his ideas went with regards to Microsoft's business directions. Totally love his style and he's obviously a smart cookie who knows his stuff both as a programmer and a project manager. His wit is very engaging and turns even the driest discussions about API's into something of a comedy. Spolsky talks from first hand experience, he's no theoretician which ironically allows him room to theorize quite accurately given the retrospective view this book now gives on the whole software industry. One of the best parts about this book is that it makes one, as a developer, feel that what project managers are constantly telling you (It's late, you're slow, your estimates are unrealistically large) is somewhat of a universal pain felt by even the best of us. i.e. Joel. Despite his plethora of knowledge, wisdom on the subjects he speaks about and intellect, he always comes across as humble and one who perhaps learnt the hard way, like us. It's no longer 2003, but Joel on Software is still as relevant as it was back then. Encouraging and realistic at the same time. A friend to read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Emad Mokhtar

    This book is an old one, but still has much information that can be applied nowadays. This book is focusing on many aspects from people side of software development, to the process side. Joel recommends Program Managers to read it but I can also recommend Software Developers o read it as well.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    A little bit outdated, a little bit annoying...but the guy knows what he’s talking about. A good foundational book for programmers and project managers (the capacity in which it was recommended to me).

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ramanan Balakrishnan

    Essential reading if you write/read/make/design/touch/use software. Interesting to see how assertions from almost 20 years ago have turned out - most are still valid. Even more valuable are the cases where the predictions have turned out differently.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Hunan Rostomyan

    Interesting set of essays on all sorts of programming topics. Learned a ton.

  18. 4 out of 5

    José

    I enjoyed it, and read it fast. Most of it it's still relevant, the time passed since it was written helped me to focus on the more generic wisdom instead of being blinded by the technologies.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Alexander Borshak

    Not bad, worth to read. Many interesting ideas.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Feaver

    The examples are somewhat outdated but the concepts are eternal. :)

  21. 4 out of 5

    Eddy

    good stuff

  22. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    A nice reorganization of many of Joel's blogposts and essays. Some of the details are a bit dated (e.g. any discussion of technologies or the "future" of programming), but still a great read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rafael George

    Ton of hilariously put unfulfilled predictions.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Yixing Jiang

    Have to say this is a bit out of date so I skipped most but I would rather highly recommend "more Joel on software".

  25. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Despite containing lots of stuff specific to developers, Joel also talks a lot about starting, managing and growing one's own software company and his advice is invaluable to aspiring entrepreneurs. Very easy to read - Joel's style is very light and he basically is talking with the reader, making jokes and repeating things on the way (in case the reader is bored). It's very funny and hard to put away. He definitely applies his advice of writing specifications to this book. "Strategy Letters" parts Despite containing lots of stuff specific to developers, Joel also talks a lot about starting, managing and growing one's own software company and his advice is invaluable to aspiring entrepreneurs. Very easy to read - Joel's style is very light and he basically is talking with the reader, making jokes and repeating things on the way (in case the reader is bored). It's very funny and hard to put away. He definitely applies his advice of writing specifications to this book. "Strategy Letters" parts were the most interesting as they were about software business. Other parts cover topics like software developers' productivity, project planning, defect tracking, testing, usability testing etc. Quite a bit of references to Microsoft since Joel worked there for a while and because Microsoft plays a big role in software evolution; not all praises - more like articles about what it did right and wrong and which lessons could be learned for entrepreneurs. Most memorable topics for me: 1. Two types of companies - Ben&Jerry and Amazon.com. First - starts small, self-funded, in a market with competitors and slowly perfecting their business and gaining market share. Second (Amazon) - new market, no competitors, Land Grab mode by using raised capital - throw money on everything to grow-grow-grow as fast as you can. You have to understand and decide which type of the company is yours when starting it. 2. How to solve chicken-and-egg problem, i.e. when new market has high barrier of entry and requires network effects from complementary markets etc. Basically the answer is - remove barriers to entry by providing backward compatibility and/or pigging back on some existing market. 3. Law of Leaky Abstractions - explains why even with more and more high-level development tools and concepts we don't get exponential growth in developer's productivity (because abstractions are not perfect and "leak" lower level details) 4. Never ever rewrite software from scratch (unless you are Microsoft, but even then think twice). You need to be a computer geek growing up in the 90's to relate and recognize a lot of the references Joel makes. I am one, so I am not sure how this would read for a person who does not. I feel like some business-related chapters will still read very well. I think a lot of advice still applies nowadays, especially things around software project management. Some of those things are nowadays being re-packaged as a part of Lean development, but it's nice to learn them without that context. Anyway, if you want to be a better developer - read it! If you have or going to start a software business (and nowadays most of the businesses have software component) - read it! If you are already know everything - still read it to refresh your memory and for the fun of it. I had fun.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Todd N

    Picked this up at the library while looking through the computer books. This is one of the earlier blog-to-book jobbies that I'm aware of, and it's a good one. Joel Spolsky worked at Microsoft as a program manager, Juno as a programmer and manager, and now owns his own company, FogBugz. During his career he formed some pretty strong opinions about the best way to do things, from how to hire a software engineer to how to enter a market with established competitors, which he describes in these blunt Picked this up at the library while looking through the computer books. This is one of the earlier blog-to-book jobbies that I'm aware of, and it's a good one. Joel Spolsky worked at Microsoft as a program manager, Juno as a programmer and manager, and now owns his own company, FogBugz. During his career he formed some pretty strong opinions about the best way to do things, from how to hire a software engineer to how to enter a market with established competitors, which he describes in these blunt, funny, and slighly bitchy articles. A lot of the material is dated, covering 2000 to 2003, but is still very relevant. In fact it's probably more relevant because it's possible to read these articles with enough detachment to pick out their lessons. My favorite article is the overview of Unicode and character encodings, which he explains exactly the right way to understand it. (This is a topic dear to me ever since I created a Turkish and Greek localization for enterprise search software.) The section on hiring reminds me a lot of the way Google approaches it, making me wonder if his blog inspired anyone at Google early on or if Google independently came up with a similar system. The chapter "How Microsoft Lost The API War," should be read by anyone who wants to understand why developers started shifting from Windows to the web. In a nice touch Mr. Spolsky apologizes for a writing a paragraph that sounds like a typical pompous industry columnist. The difference, of course, is that Joel actually knows what he is talking about.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Gautam Soman

    Since 2000, Joel Spolsky has been writing a wildly popular blog with same name on software development; and this book is a collection of selected articles from the blog, with some additional commentary by the author. The book is divided in five parts. First part is targeted towards software developers; and it contains tips on best practices in programming and lot of pragmatic advice on how to be a better programmer. Part two talks about how to manage a team of programmers, right from how to inter Since 2000, Joel Spolsky has been writing a wildly popular blog with same name on software development; and this book is a collection of selected articles from the blog, with some additional commentary by the author. The book is divided in five parts. First part is targeted towards software developers; and it contains tips on best practices in programming and lot of pragmatic advice on how to be a better programmer. Part two talks about how to manage a team of programmers, right from how to interview a candidate to how to measure performance. Parts three and four have relatively diverse topics, ranging from musings on strategy to a detailed account of API wars. Part five, titled Appendix, contains a selection of questions posted by readers of the blog and Joel 19s responses. It would suffice to say that whether you are a programmer or you are managing a team of programmers, this is one book you cannot afford to miss. Apart from the content, much attention has been paid to the presentation of the book, right from the extra-ordinarily long title, and the picture (known as 1CColophon 1D) on title page to large, easy-on-eye font. These minor things add to the joy of reading. Do pick this one up 26 you probably may not agree with everything Joel has to say, but one thing I can guarantee for sure 13 you are in for a few hours of riveting reading.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Порфирий

    Very pleasant to read and curls you up into 00s software development atmosphere :)

  29. 5 out of 5

    Allisonperkel

    What a great book! Every programmer and manager should read Joel - even if you don't agree with him, he brings up tons of points you just cannot ignore. For instance, one of my pet peeves is lack of up front planning. And when I say lack, I mean none. The amount of pain this has caused me in the past is impossible to measure (and there is a reason I'm reasonable good with time estimations - I plan what I can up front). Reading him talk about the lack of planning in software dev really warmed my What a great book! Every programmer and manager should read Joel - even if you don't agree with him, he brings up tons of points you just cannot ignore. For instance, one of my pet peeves is lack of up front planning. And when I say lack, I mean none. The amount of pain this has caused me in the past is impossible to measure (and there is a reason I'm reasonable good with time estimations - I plan what I can up front). Reading him talk about the lack of planning in software dev really warmed my heart. Another nice little piece was his talk on strings at the beginning. As an embedded engineer I know first hand how costly string manipulations are. I tend to forget that not everyone knows this. Its good to see a mainstream programming book take this topic on. I will also admit to loving his support of Microsoft; I also feel that they get short shifted and for similar reasons (they really did bring computing to the masses). Finally Joel nails the differences between Microsoft programmers and Linux programmers - to a T. The general breakdown is MS programmers design the GUI first and add the CLI later while the Linux folks do the opposite. In general, this makes a lot of sense, especially when you compare Linux and Windows from about 2 yrs ago. Or Gnome today (KDE ftw). If you program, or love someone who does, read this book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Roy Klein

    This is the first positive review I'm giving while still reading a book. First of all, to fully enjoy the book I feel like I have to read it in tiny tiny chunks to let the content sink in, thus it's taking forever to get through it. The second reason is that it has been so consistent in writing level and quality of content that I am certain it will continue that way until the end. In a nutshell, this book is a series of blog posts, written and curated by a known software persona. It deals with ev This is the first positive review I'm giving while still reading a book. First of all, to fully enjoy the book I feel like I have to read it in tiny tiny chunks to let the content sink in, thus it's taking forever to get through it. The second reason is that it has been so consistent in writing level and quality of content that I am certain it will continue that way until the end. In a nutshell, this book is a series of blog posts, written and curated by a known software persona. It deals with everything a software developer is likely to encounter during their career: Technical , managerial and business issues. All subjects are treated with a writing style that cuts to the heart of the matter with light humor and strong metaphors. There are two reasons that this book doesn't deserve the fifth star: 1) Most of the articles were written over 10 years ago. 2) I am not entirely sure whether Joel's ideas seem so compelling because he is right or because he knows how to sound like he's right. For these reasons I try to force myself to take everything with a grain of salt, a somewhat fun-spoiling effort. If you've been in the software business for some years, this book will speak to you. Get it, enjoy it, but don't take it too seriously.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.