Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Opinionated review on an opinionated book: Joel on Software

I just finished reading Joel Spolskys book "Joel on Software", and I had a good and interesting read I have to say. This doesn't mean that I agree with everything in this, by now a bit dated, published in 2004 and as it is a collection of writings from Spolskys website www.joelonsoftware.com, it is more dated than that.

Spolsky writes in a rather humorous, witty style, and he is very opinionated and has strong opinions on many things. And he sometimes hits some rather minor issue which he dislikes with a baseball bat. But I enjoyed reading the book, it was a fun read and it got me thinking on issues, even though I didn't agree with Spolsky always, frankly, most of the time I didn't (he's not too hot on Open Source for example, and gives examples why it's not going to work, and we now know, as the book is dated, how things went. And he was wrong). But the deal with this book isn't to get you to buy into Spolskys ideas, rather, it's to start you thinking on the issues he writes about.

Before you go on and buy this book though, you should be aware that Spolsky is a big-time Windows fan, there is no doubt about that (and I tend to like Windows as a desk-top OS also). But again, that is not the deal here. The deal is to get those cogs in your brain working.

As for entertainment, this book isn't bad, as is often the case with strongly opinionated writings. There are a couple of annoying things in the book though, once you have learnt to live with Spolsky having a different opinion than you (or me, for the most part). And that is that Spolsky is also seems pretty full of himself at times. The software company that he owns is one that can't do no wrong, anywhere in the book. The only time that it's mentioned to do something at fault, it is to tell how incredibly well they dealt with that problem and fixed it, no doubt better than anyone else.

But that aside, if you want to read a book on software development (yes, there is very little code in the book, but even in that sense I got a few ideas for the next version of MyQuery coming up soon), stuff that are interesting issues to think about, and which you might not agree with, but still interesting to think about.

Also, for all you hard-core Linux folks out there, I think this could be interesting to read, something written by a hard-core Windows guy, to get an idea on how the Windows developers of the world thinks, and why and what their arguments are. And Spolsky actually goes more into taking about differences here than about whats good and bad with Windows, Linux etc.

Also, I said that Spolsky is a hard-core Windows guy, and I am a Windows guy also, in part, but that doesn't mean Spolsky has many kind words for what is going on at Microsoft these days (oh, Spolsky used to work at Microsoft, which he writes about many times. It is no surprise that in THOSE days, little, if anything, was amiss in Redmond). .NET is not high-ranking in Spolskys eyes, and in this sense, it is interesting to see that in some cases he was right (this is complex, and getting .NET out there has been a long process), but that it actually get out there and has a reasonably large following, well that was also expected, but that so many developers actually seems to have embraced .NET with there hearts was apparently not expected.

And just to make things clear: As a Windows developer, I insist on C and on the Win16/Win32/Win64 API. No MFC, no C#, no .NET and above all, no VB.

/Karlsson

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