"The Art of Readable Code" Book Writeup

December 01, 2011

The Art of Readable Code Book Cover The Art of Readable Code Dustin Boswell, Trevor Foucher ISBN: 0596802293

What’s the point?
This books aims to be the “simple and practical” guide to writing better, more readable code. It is structured as a series of tips - with an anecdote and explanation of the how and why.

How was it?
It was a really frustrating book. I am all about readable code so I was really excited to read this book when it was released. The problem is that I disagree with several of the major sections in the book.

I don’t like the authors take on code comments - I couldn’t disagree more strongly with the point that comments should be a “redundancy check”. The book seems to be contrarian for the sake of being contrarian by stating that “goto” is misunderstood and even appropriate in some cases (I still can’t believe this was in a book that was published in 2011).

The sections on code aesthetics were nice, since this is something that I don’t recall being pointed out in other books. I also liked the section on “summary” vs “explaining” variables.

But I found myself rolling my eyes in frustration several times when I read advice that I considered just plain wrong.

Who should read it?
Overall, I wouldn’t recommend the book - there are better options (Clean Code, Code Complete 2). If you do want to pick this one up, make sure you take it with a grain of salt.

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