O'Reilly has just released a collection of essays by 38 pioneering software developers. Beautiful Code: Leading Programmers Explain How They Think, edited by Andy Oram and Greg Wilson, aims to show “how the experts solve near-impossible software development dilemmas.”
According to O'Reillly, the contributors to this 618-page book “illuminate the artistry involved in coding, explain the tradeoffs made in application construction, and reveal when it's appropriate to break the rules.” Sample chapters include:
- Chapter 3, “The Most Beautiful Code I Never Wrote,” by Jon Bentley, suggests how to measure a procedure without actually executing it.
- Chapter 20, “A Highly Reliable Enterprise System for NASA's Mars Rover Mission,” by Ronald Mak, uses industry standards, best practices, and Java technologies to meet the requirements of a NASA expedition where reliability cannot be in doubt.
- Chapter 29, “Treating Code as an Essay,” by Yukihiro Matsumoto, lays out some challenging principles that drove his design of the Ruby programming language, and that, by extension, will help produce better software in general.
Chapter 4, a 21-page essay entitled “Finding Things,” by Tim Bray, is available for free download in PDF format, here.
Oram is an editor at O'Reilly Media and currently specializes in free software and open source technologies. Wilson holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Edinburgh and has worked on high-performance scientific computing, data visualization, and computer security. He is the author of Data Crunching and Practical Parallel Programming (MIT Press, 1995) and is a contributing editor at Doctor Dobb's Journal.
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