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More Joel on Software

18 Oct 2009


I was kind of disappointed here. A ton of people read Joel on Software, so I bought this before a plane ride, figuring it’d be a good intro. I also figured it’d be nice and recent, being the more recent edition. I was wrong–most of the content is from 2001, 2003, 2005. This means that most of the content is the stuff that did not make it into the first book (2005) and waited until this one (2007). I was not impressed with that.

At any rate, some of the stuff in this book makes good points, but they are overpowered by the sheer badness of the bad points. He takes the time to defend hungarian notation, when used right, because you need something like that for programming languages without proper type checking. Then he suggests using similar functionality to defend against XSS attacks. Too bad Perl came up with the concept of taint to solve that problem right only 6 years before you wrote that, Joel.

Some of his points on business are good. Things like how to price software, segmenting your market for effective price discrimination, automatically weighting the time estimates of developers based on past estimation performance, and a few other ones.

The writing style is very lightweight–it’s blog posts, after all–and the book is quite an easy read. I really found most of the actual programming advice to be quite bad, so were it not for the good business advice and lightweight style I’d have probably been quite disappointed. But the amount of time spent was worth the insight gained, so while I can’t recommend it, I’ve spent my time getting only halfway through far worse books.