This book is forty-five years old. I realize I’m doing some of Quality Frog‘s schtick here, reading old computer books to glean the lost knowledge of the ancients, but bear with me.
This book really does contain a set of rules for programmers to follow: The left pages have the rules in large font, and the right pages have the rules explained in a paragraph or two. The book focuses not only on programming best practices, but also on software development best practices, and these are much more applicable to modern programming than the pre-object oriented programming lessons.
For example, first and foremost are the rules about making sure your program answers the users’ needs. Rules like:
- Fit your program to your users’ needs.
- Aim your program at the widest circle of users
- Explain to your user how to use the program
- Make it easy for the user to run the program
Other rules cover interface design, such as Display results with pertinent messages which are just as relevant now as it was when the interface designed displayed only green or amber text.
Even the discussion of loops, variables, and breaking your program into sections has a sort of relevance because it discusses these things philosophically, at a high level, in a way that programming how-to books and online language tutorials do not.
It’s a quick read or browse; although it’s roughly 220 pages (which is still slim by modern, $60 computer book standards), it’s really less than that since the text is not densely packed on the pages as described above, and it’s worth the time for the insights not only into the crystallized rules but also in the recognition of some software development problems and goals predate the Internet, which I am pretty sure some of our younger co-workers don’t know.
Books mentioned in this review: