Friday, January 07, 2005

If you are into software development ...

On the other hand, even if you are not into (but generally interested in) software, you would enjoy some of the links on this page, which contains readers' nominations for the best essays on computer software published in 2004. Joel Spolsky, the author of the blog "Joel on Software", has been commissioned to put some 30 of these essays together for a book, tentatively titled "//comments".

Thanks to Joel, I found "S5", a really cool presentation software that runs on your browser.

Joel has been enormously prolific: check out his writing at this archive.

For example, in one of the articles, Joel says that software developers *really* need to know the internals of how their programs work (Hat tip to Brad Delong). Using string processing as an example, he finally concludes thus:

...I am actually physically disgusted that so many computer science programs think that Java is a good introductory language, because it's "easy" and you don't get confused with all that boring string/malloc stuff but you can learn cool OOP stuff which will make your big programs ever so modular. This is a pedagogical disaster waiting to happen. Generations of graduates are descending on us and creating Shlemiel The Painter algorithms right and left and they don't even realize it, since they fundamentally have no idea that strings are, at a very deep level, difficult, even if you can't quite see that in your perl script. If you want to teach somebody something well, you have to start at the very lowest level. It's like Karate Kid. Wax On, Wax Off. Wax On, Wax Off. Do that for three weeks. Then Knocking The Other Kid's Head off is easy.
Read the article to find out more about the algorithm of Shlemiel The Painter!

Another article is about pricing of software. Here is his concluding paragraph:

Take my advice, offered about 20 pages back: charge $0.05 for your software. Unless it does bug tracking, in which case the correct price is $30,000,000. Thank you for your time, and I apologize for leaving you even less able to price software than you were when you started reading this.
Though his conclusion sort of leaves you in a confused state, you should read this article simply because it is by Joel!

Also check out Joel's post on Google Suggest, a really cool feature from Google; don't forget to follow his link to where the real goodies exist: slashdot!

Update: Joel has more on Google Suggest here.