Book Review: Code Complete by Steve McConnell

Let’s be honest: here at Profinit we really do like Steve McConnell. Our internal methodology of estimates is pretty much based on the principles listed in his book Software Estimation: Demystifying the Black Art. Moreover, we are always willing to defend the cone of uncertainty, and his programming bible ‘Code Complete’ has become an integral part of our internal career path.

The listed above is due to Steve McConnell’s awesome personality (if you have ever had a chance to chat with him you will surely agree), but most importantly to the fact that his books get to the point and build on real, often very hard-earned, experience. However, reading books is not that mainstream anymore. Blogs, tutorials (GitHub), community forums (Stackoverflow) and the copy&paste approach to programming are nowadays much more popular. People tend to deal with problems in a very superficial way, regardless of the cost.

Nevertheless, sooner or later (at Profinit, we rejoice if sooner) everyone reaches a point, where he/she needs to genuinely understand a field and get acquainted with details – simply comprehend an area in depth. In many cases, you realise the unfortunate truth that you have spent many months or years reinventing the wheel. In these situations, one really needs to grab a good old book and dedicate time to reading about the small stuff. Not so long ago the second edition of Martin Fowler’s famous Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code appeared. When interviewed for InfoQ, the journalist asked Fowler why and for whom he still bothered to write a book anyway. The answer was honest and somewhat unsurprised. Believe it or not, great household names of software engineering such as McConnell and Fowler still believe in the existence of people, who want to understand problems and comprehend them in depth. That’s why they write books!

We believe the same and fortunately are not alone in this. For example, Forbes magazine listed Code Complete as one of the best sources for coding beginners. Once again a book has beaten the ever more domineering online world, which in this case is a great sign.