Reading List

Classic Programming Books

The seminal works of software engineering.
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A Practical Handbook of Software Construction
by Steve McConnell

Widely considered one of the best practical guides to programming, Steve McConnell’s original CODE COMPLETE has been helping developers write better software for more than a decade. Now this classic book has been fully updated and revised with leading-edge practices—and hundreds of new code samples—illustrating the art and science of software construction. Capturing the body of knowledge available from research, academia, and everyday commercial practice, McConnell synthesizes the most effective techniques and must-know principles into clear, pragmatic guidance. No matter what your experience level, development environment, or project size, this book will inform and stimulate your thinking—and help you build the highest quality code.

  • Discover the timeless techniques and strategies that help you:
  • Design for minimum complexity and maximum creativity
  • Reap the benefits of collaborative development
  • Apply defensive programming techniques to reduce and flush out errors
  • Exploit opportunities to refactor—or evolve—code, and do it safely
  • Use construction practices that are right-weight for your project
  • Debug problems quickly and effectively
  • Resolve critical construction issues early and correctly
  • Build quality into the beginning, middle, and end of your project
Your Journey to Mastery
by David Thomas and Andrew Hunt

The Pragmatic Programmer is one of those rare tech books you’ll read, re-read, and read again over the years. Whether you’re new to the field or an experienced practitioner, you’ll come away with fresh insights each and every time.

Dave Thomas and Andy Hunt wrote the first edition of this influential book in 1999 to help their clients create better software and rediscover the joy of coding. These lessons have helped a generation of programmers examine the very essence of software development, independent of any particular language, framework, or methodology, and the Pragmatic philosophy has spawned hundreds of books, screencasts, and audio books, as well as thousands of careers and success stories.

Now, twenty years later, this new edition re-examines what it means to be a modern programmer. Topics range from personal responsibility and career development to architectural techniques for keeping your code flexible and easy to adapt and reuse. Read this book, and you’ll learn how to:

  • Fight software rot
  • Learn continuously
  • Avoid the trap of duplicating knowledge
  • Write flexible, dynamic, and adaptable code
  • Harness the power of basic tools
  • Avoid programming by coincidence
  • Learn real requirements
  • Solve the underlying problems of concurrent code
  • Guard against security vulnerabilities
  • Build teams of Pragmatic Programmers
  • Take responsibility for your work and career
  • Test ruthlessly and effectively, including property-based testing
  • Implement the Pragmatic Starter Kit
  • Delight your users

Written as a series of self-contained sections and filled with classic and fresh anecdotes, thoughtful examples, and interesting analogies, The Pragmatic Programmer illustrates the best approaches and major pitfalls of many different aspects of software development. Whether you’re a new coder, an experienced programmer, or a manager responsible for software projects, use these lessons daily, and you’ll quickly see improvements in personal productivity, accuracy, and job satisfaction. You’ll learn skills and develop habits and attitudes that form the foundation for long-term success in your career.

You’ll become a Pragmatic Programmer.

by Brian W. Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie

This book is meant to help the reader learn how to program in C. It is the definitive reference guide, now in a second edition. Although the first edition was written in 1978, it continues to be a worldwide best-seller. This second edition brings the classic original up to date to include the ANSI standard.

From the Preface:

We have tried to retain the brevity of the first edition. C is not a big language, and it is not well served by a big book. We have improved the exposition of critical features, such as pointers, that are central to C programming. We have refined the original examples, and have added new examples in several chapters. For instance, the treatment of complicated declarations is augmented by programs that convert declarations into words and vice versa. As before, all examples have been tested directly from the text, which is in machine-readable form.

As we said in the first preface to the first edition, C "wears well as one's experience with it grows." With a decade more experience, we still feel that way. We hope that this book will help you to learn C and use it well.

Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software
by Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson and John Vlissides

Capturing a wealth of experience about the design of object-oriented software, four top-notch designers present a catalog of simple and succinct solutions to commonly occurring design problems. Previously undocumented, these 23 patterns allow designers to create more flexible, elegant, and ultimately reusable designs without having to rediscover the design solutions themselves.

The authors begin by describing what patterns are and how they can help you design object-oriented software. They then go on to systematically name, explain, evaluate, and catalog recurring designs in object-oriented systems. With Design Patterns as your guide, you will learn how these important patterns fit into the software development process, and how you can leverage them to solve your own design problems most efficiently.

Each pattern describes the circumstances in which it is applicable, when it can be applied in view of other design constraints, and the consequences and trade-offs of using the pattern within a larger design. All patterns are compiled from real systems and are based on real-world examples. Each pattern also includes code that demonstrates how it may be implemented in object-oriented programming languages like C++ or Smalltalk.

by Martin Fowler

For more than twenty years, experienced programmers worldwide have relied on Martin Fowler’s Refactoring to improve the design of existing code and to enhance software maintainability, as well as to make existing code easier to understand.

This eagerly awaited new edition has been fully updated to reflect crucial changes in the programming landscape. Refactoring, Second Edition, features an updated catalog of refactorings and includes JavaScript code examples, as well as new functional examples that demonstrate refactoring without classes.

Like the original, this edition explains what refactoring is; why you should refactor; how to recognize code that needs refactoring; and how to actually do it successfully, no matter what language you use.

  • Understand the process and general principles of refactoring
  • Quickly apply useful refactorings to make a program easier to comprehend and change
  • Recognize “bad smells” in code that signal opportunities to refactor
  • Explore the refactorings, each with explanations, motivation, mechanics, and simple examples
  • Build solid tests for your refactorings
  • Recognize tradeoffs and obstacles to refactoring
Essays on Software Engineering
by Frederick Brooks Jr.

Few books on software project management have been as influential and timeless as The Mythical Man-Month. With a blend of software engineering facts and thought-provoking opinions, Fred Brooks offers insight for anyone managing complex projects. These essays draw from his experience as project manager for the IBM System/360 computer family and then for OS/360, its massive software system. Now, 20 years after the initial publication of his book, Brooks has revisited his original ideas and added new thoughts and advice, both for readers already familiar with his work and for readers discovering it for the first time.

The added chapters contain (1) a crisp condensation of all the propositions asserted in the original book, including Brooks' central argument in The Mythical Man-Month: that large programming projects suffer management problems different from small ones due to the division of labor; that the conceptual integrity of the product is therefore critical; and that it is difficult but possible to achieve this unity; (2) Brooks' view of these propositions a generation later; (3) a reprint of his classic 1986 paper "No Silver Bullet"; and (4) today's thoughts on the 1986 assertion, "There will be no silver bullet within ten years."

by Donald E. Knuth

This first volume in the series begins with basic programming concepts and techniques, then focuses more particularly on information structures–the representation of information inside a computer, the structural relationships between data elements and how to deal with them efficiently. Elementary applications are given to simulation, numerical methods, symbolic computing, software and system design. Dozens of simple and important algorithms and techniques have been added to those of the previous edition. The section on mathematical preliminaries has been extensively revised to match present trends in research.

Productive Projects and Teams
by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister

Few books in computing have had as profound an influence on software management as Peopleware. The unique insight of this longtime best seller is that the major issues of software development are human, not technical. They're not easy issues; but solve them, and you'll maximize your chances of success.

For this third edition, the authors have added six new chapters and updated the text throughout, bringing it in line with today's development environments and challenges. For example, the book now discusses pathologies of leadership that hadn't previously been judged to be pathological; an evolving culture of meetings; hybrid teams made up of people from seemingly incompatible generations; and a growing awareness that some of our most common tools are more like anchors than propellers. Anyone who needs to manage a software project or software organization will find invaluable advice throughout the book.

by Michael Feathers

This book provides programmers with the ability to cost effectively handlecommon legacy code problems without having to go through the hugelyexpensive task of rewriting all existing code. It describes a series of practicalstrategies that developers can employ to bring their existing softwareapplications under control. The author provides useful guidance about how touse these strategies when refactoring or making functional changes to codebases. One of the book's key points is that it teaches developers to write teststhat can be used to make sure they are not unintentionally changing theapplication as they optimize it. Examples are provided in Java, C++, and Csharp,and the book assumes that the reader has some knowledge of UMLnotation. Strategies using UML and code in C++ and Java primarily whilelanguage independent advice will be delivered in side bars and appendices forlanguage specific users.

by Martin Fowler

The practice of enterprise application development has benefited from the emergence of many new enabling technologies. Multi-tiered object-oriented platforms, such as Java and .NET, have become commonplace. These new tools and technologies are capable of building powerful applications, but they are not easily implemented. Common failures in enterprise applications often occur because their developers do not understand the architectural lessons that experienced object developers have learned.

Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture is written in direct response to the stiff challenges that face enterprise application developers. The author, noted object-oriented designer Martin Fowler, noticed that despite changes in technology--from Smalltalk to CORBA to Java to .NET--the same basic design ideas can be adapted and applied to solve common problems. With the help of an expert group of contributors, Martin distills over forty recurring solutions into patterns. The result is an indispensable handbook of solutions that are applicable to any enterprise application platform.

This book is actually two books in one. The first section is a short tutorial on developing enterprise applications, which you can read from start to finish to understand the scope of the book's lessons. The next section, the bulk of the book, is a detailed reference to the patterns themselves. Each pattern provides usage and implementation information, as well as detailed code examples in Java or C#. The entire book is also richly illustrated with UML diagrams to further explain the concepts.

Armed with this book, you will have the knowledge necessary to make important architectural decisions about building an enterprise application and the proven patterns for use when building them.

The topics covered include

  • Dividing an enterprise application into layers
  • The major approaches to organizing business logic
  • An in-depth treatment of mapping between objects and relational databases
  • Using Model-View-Controller to organize a Web presentation
  • Handling concurrency for data that spans multiple transactions
  • Designing distributed object interfaces
by Jon Bentley

When programmers list their favourite books, Jon Bentley’s collection of programming pearls is commonly included among the classics. Just as natural pearls grow from grains of sand that irritate oysters, programming pearls have grown from real problems that have irritated real programmers. With origins beyond solid engineering, in the realm of insight and creativity, Bentley’s pearls offer unique and clever solutions to those nagging problems. Illustrated by programs designed as much for fun as for instruction, the book is filled with lucid and witty descriptions of practical programming techniques and fundamental design principles. It is not at all surprising that Programming Pearls has been so highly valued by programmers at every level of experience.

What remains the same in this edition is Bentley’s focus on the hard core of programming problems and his delivery of workable solutions to those problems. Whether you are new to Bentley’s classic or are revisiting his work for some fresh insight, the book is sure to make your own list of favourites.