Saturday, October 06, 2012

Book Review: Code Simplicity: The Fundamentals of Software, by Max Kanat-Alexander, O'Reilly Media

Writing code seems like an easy task, and perhaps it is.  However, it can be difficult to write simple, clean code.

The book, "Code Simplicity: The Fundamentals of Software", explains:

  • Why do you want to write simple code?
  • How do you write simple code?
However, you will not find any code samples in this book.  While this may not be appealing to some readers, I did not feel that this lowered the quality of the book.  

It contains many guidelines and principles that experienced software craftsmen already know and might pass on to their apprentices.  Some of these principles:
  • Don't write code that isn't needed
  • Make the code easy to change
  • Comments -- should you add them? Why/why not?
A very experienced crafstman may not get much out of this book, but if you consider yourself a beginner or intermediate software developer, then I'd highly recommend this book.  It's full of great tips that will benefit you immediately and in the future.

You can find more about Code Simplicity on its product page on O'Reilly.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Review: "The Little Book on CoffeeScript" by Alex MacCaw, O'Reilly Media

This book might be "little", but don't let that mislead you; it's packed with enough content so that you'll understand all of what CoffeeScript has to offer.

Alex MacCaw does a great job of covering the major features of CoffeeScript in six short, but detailed chapters.

He starts off covering the basic syntax, and then moves on to cover something that is frowned upon by many in JavaScript, but not so much in CoffeeScript: classes.  Initially, I was hesitant to use CoffeeScript's classes prior to reading this book, but after seeing how they are implemented, and how easy they are to use, I was sold.

After covering classes in Chapter 2, you'll learn about CoffeeScript idioms in Chapter 3, such as: each, map, select, min/max, etc.  Chapter 4 covers the Cake build system and shows you how to build and deploy CoffeeScript client-side applications, which is pretty awesome.

The book winds down in Chapter 5 talking about what CoffeeScript improved upon in JavaScript, and what it did not. The final chapter is written by the creator of CoffeeScript, Jeremy Ashkenas. It basically talks about the philosophy of CoffeeScript and invites you to create your own special language as well.

My thoughts on the book:
  • It's short and very easy to read.
  • You'll walk away feeling ready to write some CoffeeScript apps or sprinkle it in your Rails apps.
  • The one negative about the book is that in some parts, some syntax was explained after the fact, which made it difficult to understand some of the examples.
  • Overall, I'd highly recommend picking up a copy as it's concise and easy to read.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Book Review: "The Book of CSS 3" by Peter Gasston

Disclaimer: As part of the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program, I chose to review this book.  More details can be found here.

The ideal audience for this book is a web developer who is familiar with CSS and has designed several websites.  In other words, you won't learn how to design a nice layout but you will learn all of the details about CSS 3.

The things I liked about this book are that there are numerous examples in every chapter, with pictures that demonstrate different CSS properties.  Of course, what good is a book about CSS without pictures?
Another thing that you will find useful is at the end of every chapter, Peter provides a chart outlining how well the major browsers support a particular feature.  

There aren't many bad things about this book.  My suggestion is that you do not read it cover to cover, as I believe it would be better used as a reference book.  The only other thing that I didn't like about this book is that the examples are in black & white; it would've been nice to see the images in color, especially in the PDF version of this book.

Overall, it’s a great book to get to learn how to implement the latest cool features in CSS 3.  The numerous examples in the book are very helpful, and it will serve as a great reference book to keep on your desk.