This is my short review of the book “Joel on Software”, written by Joel Spolsky.

Joel on Software Joel on Software

It’s a bit too long to fit as the title for this post, but the full title + subtitle of this book is actually: « Joel on Software: And on Diverse and Occasionally Related Matters That Will Prove of Interest to Software Developers, Designers, and Managers, and to Those Who, Whether by Good Fortune or Ill Luck, Work with Them in Some Capacity ».

“Joel on Software” is a selection of entries posted by Joel Spolsky on his blog, mostly between 2000 and 20041. Even if some details are no longer applicable (try predicting 15 years in technology2, when things change as fast as they do… You can be sure you’ll get some stuff wrong), these 10+ years old posts are still often very true… Software development has not changed much and many developers, companies and projects still do the same mistakes!

Amongst the things you’ll find in here, you probably already read about “The Joel Test: 12 Steps to Better Code”. You will also read about specifications, prototyping, bug-fixing, managing developers, or “The Law of Leaky Abstractions”.

45 I’m not sure I would buy this book new, but for a few dollars (I bought it used), it was an interesting and enjoyable read. Most chapters are short and they are quite independant from each-other, and I recognized several situations I’ve lived in my own career.

And even if you don’t buy the book, you should take a look at some of the entries posted on the Joel on Software blog.

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  1. I’ve first had Internet at home in something like 2001 and must have discovered blogs around 2003 or 2004… Which means I didn’t read most of these posts when they’ve been published. [return]
  2. There is something in there about MSN, which would never become a successful messenger. Well, it did actually become successful and used by many… And it has since been forgotten again ^^. Who would have predicted that? [return]