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Clean Code

“A Handbook of Software Craftsmanship” – this was the intriguing subtitle of Robert C. Martin’s book “Clean Code” that I picked up at the JAOO conference in Århus, Denmark, last October.

The book really served as an eyeopener for me, and it made me think about how I can improve in my craft as a software developer, and how I can help the people around me improve.

There are a lot of problems that can arise in your code if you are not careful when writing it. The book brings many different heuristics for how to make your code better, and I recommend it for anyone writing or reading software.

So how can we become better at writing clean code ourselves?

I think the first step is to become aware of the problems, and to see examples of both bad an good code. A book like this can of course help with that, but I think it is very important to have a forum where you can discuss coding techniques and issues with others. In our office, we’re trying to get this by having a software craftsmanship study group where we, about once a month, get together and discuss topics about our craft. We’ve started by going through the chapters of Martin’s book, and it has been creating some very good discussions so far.

I’ve noticed that since I’ve started to think more about clean code, I’ve changed my view of coding. Code that I used to find quite good doesn’t look so good any longer now that I’ve learned how much better it could be. I really appreciate code that is readable and maintainable, and I find that these factors usually are more important than other quality attributes like performance. This is of course not always true, but a great deal of our code is not run in critical inner loops, and I would much more have it well readable and maintainable than super fast.

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Kindle on the road

I promised to say a bit more about how I liked the Kindle after using it a while. I must admit that it haven’t been used very much at home, mostly since most of the books I’ve read lately haven’t been available on it. I’ve been reading books about software development, and thought there are a few on the Kindle, it seems that there are still quite a few that’s missing.

But recently I was away on a 10 day vacation to the US. I had a little while ago started Asimov’s “Foundation” on the Kindle, and thought a long vacation would be a perfect opportunity to finish this book. I pretty soon found that travelling with the Kindle is brilliant. I had a long layover in Copenhagen, and go to read quite a lot of the book, so much that I was getting afraid that I would be out of reading material during the upcoming flight to Newark, should I continue to read all through it. But it was very easy to turn on the wireless on the Kindle and then buy the next book in the series so it would be ready.

The main downside from reading a paper book that I noticed when travelling, was the fact that I had to turn it off during takoff/landing. Otherwise, it was a very nice reading experience. I also like the fact that I have a dictionary available, should I come across a word I don’t understand, or want a better definition of than I can get from the context.

Kindle

22/11/2009 1 comment

Amazon just recently started selling their Kindle ebook reader outside of the states, and I decided to get one. The ordering was pretty slick, and it took just a few days before I had the reader in my hand – the speed of the shipment from US to Norway really impressed me.

I like reading on it – particularly in bed. It is better than reading a book, as I don’t have to fold the pages, and it doesn’t slam shut when I fall asleep in the middle of a page. I also like the reading technology – the electronic inc seems to be working nice.

I think the wireless solution is brilliant. It is very convenient to be able to get books almost anywhere you are.

But I have yet to read very long on it. So far it has been used for my bedside reading, and I tend to fall asleep after a few pages. But I am sure that I will love it the next time I have a long flight.

I will update here when I get more experience.

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