Code Complete

%A Steve McConnell
%T Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction.
%D 1993
%G ISBN 1-55615-484-4
%I Redmond, Wa.: Microsoft Press
%P 880 pp

I've heard some companies give a copy of this book to every new programmer. Not a bad idea. McConnell's great book focuses on design, coding, debugging and unit testing using traditional structured languages (Pascal, C, Basic, Ada). Some detailed areas covered are module and function design, variable naming, code layout, commenting and code reviews.

This book feels like the author has spent several years reading every relevant book, magazine or paper in the field and has summarized it all in this monumental work. It is the ultimate reference work on software construction. You can't get more comprehensive than this. The book is worth buying just for the bibliography. Apart from the comprehensive bibliography at the end of the book, it also includes chapter-by-chapter "Further Reading" sections and a final "Where to Go for More Information" chapter.

Things to improve? Not really that much. I found the chapter of "Programming Tools" a bit weak. The book being from 1993, Perl would have been too much to ask for, but apart from grep and batch files, I would have liked to see things like make, sed or awk mentioned. In the chapter on unit testing I think providing some example test drivers would have been great. Also compared to other books, the examples are clearly just snippets expressly written for the book. They lack the feel of real code.

Related links

See some rave reviews at McConnell's site.