Timeless Classics of Software Engineering

Discussion in 'C++' started by Steve Johnson, Jul 28, 2004.

  1. I'd like to hear thoughts on what books, in your opinion, are true
    classics in the field of software engineering. I read a lot on the
    topic - at least a book a month for many years. There are many good
    authors, however, the only book on making software that is truly
    timeless, in my opinion, is "Mythical Man Month" by Brooks. It never
    ceases to amaze me that something written over 20 years ago would be
    so relevant.

    It seems like Brooks achieved this by focusing on what is the essence
    of software engineering, which is comprised of:

    A) building models of reality.
    B) the people who tend to like building models of reality, what they
    are like, and what makes them work together effectively.

    Many books focus excessively on a particular language, a specific
    domain, on project management, Gantt charts etc and miss the forest
    for the trees.

    Note that I'm specifically looking for books on making software, on
    Software Engineering as a craft as opposed for classic books on
    computer science (e.g. Knuth) which is a completely different category
    in my mind.

    Are there any other books like MMM that you can think of where every
    page is packed with insight where it seems not a single word is in
    vain?
    I'd be grateful for your suggestions. There must be at least a couple
    out there.

    Thanks!

    - Steve
     
    Steve Johnson, Jul 28, 2004
    #1
    1. Advertising

  2. "Steve Johnson" <> wrote in message news:...
    > I'd like to hear thoughts on what books, in your opinion, are true
    > classics in the field of software engineering.



    I can't vouch for it myself, but I hear a lot of people mention
    "Code Complete" by Steve McConnell.


    Marshall
     
    Marshall Spight, Jul 28, 2004
    #2
    1. Advertising

  3. Steve Johnson

    Stephen Fuld Guest

    "Steve Johnson" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > I'd like to hear thoughts on what books, in your opinion, are true
    > classics in the field of software engineering. I read a lot on the
    > topic - at least a book a month for many years. There are many good
    > authors, however, the only book on making software that is truly
    > timeless, in my opinion, is "Mythical Man Month" by Brooks. It never
    > ceases to amaze me that something written over 20 years ago would be
    > so relevant.
    >
    > It seems like Brooks achieved this by focusing on what is the essence
    > of software engineering, which is comprised of:
    >
    > A) building models of reality.
    > B) the people who tend to like building models of reality, what they
    > are like, and what makes them work together effectively.
    >
    > Many books focus excessively on a particular language, a specific
    > domain, on project management, Gantt charts etc and miss the forest
    > for the trees.
    >
    > Note that I'm specifically looking for books on making software, on
    > Software Engineering as a craft as opposed for classic books on
    > computer science (e.g. Knuth) which is a completely different category
    > in my mind.
    >
    > Are there any other books like MMM that you can think of where every
    > page is packed with insight where it seems not a single word is in
    > vain?
    > I'd be grateful for your suggestions. There must be at least a couple
    > out there.


    I would suggest Programming Pearls by Jon Bentley. It is one of those books
    that is actually fun to read as it is so packed with insights that you
    frequently find yourself having that Aha! experience.

    --
    - Stephen Fuld
    e-mail address disguised to prevent spam
     
    Stephen Fuld, Jul 28, 2004
    #3
  4. "Marshall Spight" <> escreveu na mensagem
    news:epPNc.177055$IQ4.107932@attbi_s02...
    > "Steve Johnson" <> wrote in message

    news:...
    > > I'd like to hear thoughts on what books, in your opinion, are true
    > > classics in the field of software engineering.

    >
    > I can't vouch for it myself, but I hear a lot of people mention
    > "Code Complete" by Steve McConnell.
    >
    >


    I also vote for "Code Complete". It is a remarkable (although excessively
    lenghy) work. If you don't want to face its 850+ pages, there's a smaller
    alternative:

    Maguire, Steve (1993) Writing Solid Code. Microsoft Press.

    These two books are classics by any definition (and both were written
    by "Steves" and published by Microsoft Press).

    Sergio Navega.
     
    Sergio Navega, Jul 28, 2004
    #4
  5. Steve Johnson

    JXStern Guest

    On 28 Jul 2004 08:04:43 -0700, (Steve
    Johnson) wrote:
    >I'd like to hear thoughts on what books, in your opinion, are true
    >classics in the field of software engineering. I read a lot on the
    >topic - at least a book a month for many years. There are many good
    >authors, however, the only book on making software that is truly
    >timeless, in my opinion, is "Mythical Man Month" by Brooks. It never
    >ceases to amaze me that something written over 20 years ago would be
    >so relevant.


    Copyright 1972 by Brooks, 1975 by Addison-Wesley, to be exact.

    >Note that I'm specifically looking for books on making software, on
    >Software Engineering as a craft as opposed for classic books on
    >computer science (e.g. Knuth) which is a completely different category
    >in my mind.
    >
    >Are there any other books like MMM that you can think of where every
    >page is packed with insight where it seems not a single word is in
    >vain?
    >I'd be grateful for your suggestions. There must be at least a couple
    >out there.


    The only book that *concise* I can think of is Kernigan and Ritchie,
    "The C Programming Language", but maybe it's too techie for your
    category.

    Kernigan and Plauger, "Elements of Programming Style", never quite did
    it for me, but others might name it.

    Booch's old "Object Oriented Design" had some status for a while.

    I like Gerald Weinberg's stuff, esp the "Quality Software Management"
    series, but it's not as tight as Brooks.

    No, I was having this same thought just the other day, that Brooks'
    little book is pretty much in a class by itself, sort of the Tao te
    Ching of software.

    I've never actually read "Code Complete", but some of the kids seem to
    like it.

    And I guess GoF's "Design Patterns" is too techie for you?

    J.
     
    JXStern, Jul 28, 2004
    #5
  6. Two easy ones:

    Design Patterns - Gamma et al.
    Refactoring - Fowler

    Here's an unusual one:

    How to Write a Useable User Manual - Weiss

    Steve Johnson wrote:

    > I'd like to hear thoughts on what books, in your opinion, are true
    > classics in the field of software engineering.
     
    Donald F. McLean, Jul 28, 2004
    #6
  7. Steve Johnson

    leslie Guest

    JXStern () wrote:
    : On 28 Jul 2004 08:04:43 -0700, (Steve
    : Johnson) wrote:
    : >I'd like to hear thoughts on what books, in your opinion, are true
    : >classics in the field of software engineering. I read a lot on the
    : >topic - at least a book a month for many years. There are many good
    : >authors, however, the only book on making software that is truly
    : >timeless, in my opinion, is "Mythical Man Month" by Brooks. It never
    : >ceases to amaze me that something written over 20 years ago would be
    : >so relevant.
    :
    : Copyright 1972 by Brooks, 1975 by Addison-Wesley, to be exact.
    :

    There's a later edition, 1995:

    20th Anniversary Edition With Four New Chapters

    ISBN 0-201-83595-9


    --Jerry Leslie
    Note: is invalid for email
     
    leslie, Jul 28, 2004
    #7
  8. Steve Johnson

    Ron Ruble Guest

    "Steve Johnson" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > I'd like to hear thoughts on what books, in your opinion, are true
    > classics in the field of software engineering.


    Not an SE book, but a great business book with useful
    information for SEs:

    "Leadership And Self-Deception", by the Arbinger Institute.
     
    Ron Ruble, Jul 28, 2004
    #8
  9. Steve Johnson

    xpyttl Guest

    "Marshall Spight" <> wrote in message
    news:epPNc.177055$IQ4.107932@attbi_s02...

    > I can't vouch for it myself, but I hear a lot of people mention
    > "Code Complete" by Steve McConnell.


    Steve's "Debugging the Development process" ain't too shabby, either, and
    it's a lot shorter.

    ...
     
    xpyttl, Jul 28, 2004
    #9
  10. Steve Johnson

    xpyttl Guest

    "Steve Johnson" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > I'd like to hear thoughts on what books, in your opinion, are true
    > classics in the field of software engineering.


    DeMarco has quite a number of good books on the topic, but his "The
    Deadline" is by far the most entertaining, most fun, and most on-target book
    I've read on the subject of what makes a project tick.

    ...
     
    xpyttl, Jul 28, 2004
    #10
  11. Take a look at Glenford Myers, the Art of software Testing....

    dave
    "Steve Johnson" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > I'd like to hear thoughts on what books, in your opinion, are true
    > classics in the field of software engineering. I read a lot on the
    > topic - at least a book a month for many years. There are many good
    > authors, however, the only book on making software that is truly
    > timeless, in my opinion, is "Mythical Man Month" by Brooks. It never
    > ceases to amaze me that something written over 20 years ago would be
    > so relevant.
    >
    > It seems like Brooks achieved this by focusing on what is the essence
    > of software engineering, which is comprised of:
    >
    > A) building models of reality.
    > B) the people who tend to like building models of reality, what they
    > are like, and what makes them work together effectively.
    >
    > Many books focus excessively on a particular language, a specific
    > domain, on project management, Gantt charts etc and miss the forest
    > for the trees.
    >
    > Note that I'm specifically looking for books on making software, on
    > Software Engineering as a craft as opposed for classic books on
    > computer science (e.g. Knuth) which is a completely different category
    > in my mind.
    >
    > Are there any other books like MMM that you can think of where every
    > page is packed with insight where it seems not a single word is in
    > vain?
    > I'd be grateful for your suggestions. There must be at least a couple
    > out there.
    >
    > Thanks!
    >
    > - Steve
     
    Dave Townsend, Jul 28, 2004
    #11
  12. leslie wrote:
    > There's a later edition, 1995:
    >
    > 20th Anniversary Edition With Four New Chapters
    >
    > ISBN 0-201-83595-9
    >
    >
    > --Jerry Leslie
    > Note: is invalid for email


    I just finished reading Mythical Man Month 1995 cover to cover. It's
    a great book. The new sections don't add much.

    The textbook at my Univ of Michigan software engineering class was,
    "Software Engineering: A Practitioner's Approach", by Roger S.
    Pressman. I don't know if they still use it, but this book covers
    the main software engineering paradigms quite well. It's no
    substitute for an experienced teacher and a class project though.

    Finally, there's a classic book in urban design called "A Pattern
    Language : Towns, Buildings, Construction" by Christopher W.
    Alexander. I have not read all of this book, but I would recommend it
    for those who have the interest. There are some principles of urban
    design that are close analogs of principles of software engineering,
    even though urban design will always be simpler than software
    engineering. This is because the urban fabric is always regimented by
    the three dimensions of physical space, whereas software can have
    arbitrary dimensions and inter-relationships.

    Maybe these are timeless classics too:
    http://mindprod.com/unmain.html
    http://www.cs.mcgill.ca/resourcepages/indian-hill.html
     
    Shailesh Humbad, Jul 28, 2004
    #12
  13. Steve Johnson

    Gavin Scott Guest

    In comp.arch Steve Johnson <> wrote:
    > I'd like to hear thoughts on what books, in your opinion, are true
    > classics in the field of software engineering.


    Probably not excatly the sort of thing you're looking for, but you
    might want to look at:

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/3540430814

    "Software Pioneers", a book that presents 16 of the classic papers by
    pioneers in the software field. The book grew out of a conference
    that was done in Germany several years ago to which all these people
    were invited to give a presentation. The book includes four DVDs that
    let you watch those talks. The DVDs are unfortunately only usable on
    a Windows system using the included player software (which is somewhat
    in German) that provides a synchronized presentation of the slides
    from the talks. Note that a few of the talks were given in German.

    Some classic material from the true pioneers, some of whom are no
    longer with us unfortunately.

    The contents of the book from the Springer site is available at:

    http://tinyurl.com/6kzco

    G.
     
    Gavin Scott, Jul 28, 2004
    #13
  14. (Steve Johnson) wrote:

    >I'd like to hear thoughts on what books, in your opinion, are true
    >classics in the field of software engineering. I read a lot on the
    >topic - at least a book a month for many years. There are many good
    >authors, however, the only book on making software that is truly
    >timeless, in my opinion, is "Mythical Man Month" by Brooks. It never
    >ceases to amaze me that something written over 20 years ago would be
    >so relevant.


    Not quite timeless. It was revised in 1995. It is one of Those
    Books that I should read some day.

    One I like is Steve McConnell's "Code Complete". It is not that
    it was so informative for me (at my experience level), but it brought
    together so many points that a competent programmer needs to know. It
    is the sort of book that I would hand to a newbie and say, "Read this.
    Then, come talk."

    Sincerely,

    Gene Wirchenko

    Computerese Irregular Verb Conjugation:
    I have preferences.
    You have biases.
    He/She has prejudices.
     
    Gene Wirchenko, Jul 28, 2004
    #14
  15. Steve Johnson

    Alan Gauld Guest

    On 28 Jul 2004 08:04:43 -0700, (Steve
    Johnson) wrote:
    > I'd like to hear thoughts on what books, in your opinion, are true
    > classics in the field of software engineering.


    Most have already been mentioned but I'll give my list anyway...

    - MMM by Brooks - undoubtedly deserves top place
    - Peopleware by Lister - would be close too.
    - Code Complete by McConnell - should be required for coders
    - Programming Pearls by Bentley - Timeless wisdom
    - Structure & Interpretation of Computer Programs
    by Sussman et al

    More debatably:

    - Knuth's 3 volumes on algorithms - but more people talk
    about them than have read them I suspect!

    - The C Programming Language by K&R

    - UML distilled by Fowler might make it into the
    classics category if UML really does become the
    standard notation.

    - OOD (first editoon) by Booch - stands the test of time
    despite the notational changes to UML.

    - Design Patterns by the GoF might work too if OO manages
    to stick as the dominant methodology

    Alan G.
    Author of the Learn to Program website
    http://www.freenetpages.co.uk/hp/alan.gauld
     
    Alan Gauld, Jul 28, 2004
    #15
  16. On Wed, 28 Jul 2004 20:59:14 GMT, Alan Gauld <>
    wrote:

    > - Structure & Interpretation of Computer Programs
    > by Sussman et al
    >


    Best book on programming I've ever read, but not about software
    engineering.

    john
     
    John Harrison, Jul 28, 2004
    #16
  17. (Steve Johnson) wrote in
    news::

    > I'd like to hear thoughts on what books, in your opinion, are true
    > classics in the field of software engineering. I read a lot on the
    > topic - at least a book a month for many years. There are many good
    > authors, however, the only book on making software that is truly
    > timeless, in my opinion, is "Mythical Man Month" by Brooks. It never
    > ceases to amaze me that something written over 20 years ago would be
    > so relevant.


    In my personal experience Kernighan&Plaugher's "Software Tools" is a
    good book. It's a perfect book to read after you've learned the basics of
    your language of choice, and are sick of writing glorified "hello world"
    programs.
    Advanced users will, of course, find next to nothing new in it. But for
    beginning programmers it does bridge the gap between the shit do-nothing
    programs you write in beginning programming classes and useful
    applications.
    Ratfor is damn hard to understand, though. I wish they'd rewrite it for C
    or C++ like they did for Pascal.


    -==Kensu==-
     
    Chris Schumacher, Jul 28, 2004
    #17
  18. Steve Johnson wrote:
    > Are there any other books like MMM that you can think of where every
    > page is packed with insight where it seems not a single word is in
    > vain?


    I like Bertrand Meyer's "Object Oriented Software Construction"
    2nd rev. Certainly a lot of detail to think about.

    Might not be as concise or as general as you're after, but it's a
    big field.

    At Uni, long ago, I was taught from "Software Engineering" by I.
    Sommerville. I hardly remember it, but I don't think that I liked
    it. Full of software life cycle diagrams and the like, from memory.

    More programming-specific and more beginner-level than you're
    after, but very beautiful is "Data Structures, with Abstract Data
    Types and Pascal", by Stubbs and Webre. I think that there are
    revisions with the examples in other languages, now, but I haven't
    read them.

    Cheers,

    --
    Andrew
     
    Andrew Reilly, Jul 29, 2004
    #18
  19. "Steve Johnson" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > I'd like to hear thoughts on what books, in your opinion, are true
    > classics in the field of software engineering. I read a lot on the
    > topic - at least a book a month for many years. There are many good
    > authors, however, the only book on making software that is truly
    > timeless, in my opinion, is "Mythical Man Month" by Brooks. It never
    > ceases to amaze me that something written over 20 years ago would be
    > so relevant.
    >
    > It seems like Brooks achieved this by focusing on what is the essence
    > of software engineering, which is comprised of:
    >
    > A) building models of reality.
    > B) the people who tend to like building models of reality, what they
    > are like, and what makes them work together effectively.
    >
    > Many books focus excessively on a particular language, a specific
    > domain, on project management, Gantt charts etc and miss the forest
    > for the trees.
    >
    > Note that I'm specifically looking for books on making software, on
    > Software Engineering as a craft as opposed for classic books on
    > computer science (e.g. Knuth) which is a completely different category
    > in my mind.
    >
    > Are there any other books like MMM that you can think of where every
    > page is packed with insight where it seems not a single word is in
    > vain?
    > I'd be grateful for your suggestions. There must be at least a couple
    > out there.


    Programmers and Managers - The Routinization of Computer Programming in the
    United States by Philip Kraft (cerca 1977). Not specifically about software
    engineering. More so about why the softwre engineering effort won't solve
    the problem

    Testing in Software Development by Martyn Ould and Charles Unwin

    Managing Software Quality and Business Risk by Martyn Ould

    >
    > Thanks!
    >
    > - Steve
     
    David Lightstone, Jul 29, 2004
    #19
  20. Steve Johnson

    H. E. Taylor Guest

    In article <>,
    <> Steve Johnson wrote:
    >
    > I'd like to hear thoughts on what books, in your opinion, are true
    > classics in the field of software engineering. I read a lot on the
    > topic - at least a book a month for many years. There are many good
    > authors, however, the only book on making software that is truly
    > timeless, in my opinion, is "Mythical Man Month" by Brooks. It never
    > ceases to amaze me that something written over 20 years ago would be
    > so relevant.
    >
    > It seems like Brooks achieved this by focusing on what is the essence
    > of software engineering, which is comprised of:
    >
    > A) building models of reality.
    > B) the people who tend to like building models of reality, what they
    > are like, and what makes them work together effectively.
    >
    > Many books focus excessively on a particular language, a specific
    > domain, on project management, Gantt charts etc and miss the forest
    > for the trees.
    >
    > Note that I'm specifically looking for books on making software, on
    > Software Engineering as a craft as opposed for classic books on
    > computer science (e.g. Knuth) which is a completely different category
    > in my mind.
    >
    > Are there any other books like MMM that you can think of where every
    > page is packed with insight where it seems not a single word is in
    > vain?
    > I'd be grateful for your suggestions. There must be at least a couple
    > out there.
    >


    Add _The Pragmatic Programmer_ by Hunt & Thomas to your list.

    <ciao>
    -het




    --
    "See that, son?
    That's the moon.
    A long time ago, we used to go there." -stolen .sig

    Computer Links: http://www.autobahn.mb.ca/~het/clinks.html
    H.E. Taylor http://www.autobahn.mb.ca/~het/
     
    H. E. Taylor, Jul 29, 2004
    #20
    1. Advertising

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

It takes just 2 minutes to sign up (and it's free!). Just click the sign up button to choose a username and then you can ask your own questions on the forum.

Share This Page