by William S Mosteller Hardcover: 260 pages Publisher: QED Information Sciences; 2nd edition (1989) Language: English ISBN-10: 0894352717 ISBN-13: 978-0894352713
This Amazon review is from: Systems programmer's problem solver (Winthrop computer systems series) (Hardcover)
Spotting this book on a shelf in my temporary cubicle while waiting for code to be uploaded for testing was pure serendipity - I picked it up to kill time and discovered a gem that is as relevant today as it was when first written in 1989. True, it needs to be modernized, especially since it was written by a mainframer for mainframers, and the slant towards MVS needs to be aligned to contemporary systems.
However, here are some of the reasons why I feel this book still has value:
- The principles haven't changed. While the first chapter on debugging is aimed at mainframe systems programmers, consider some of the topics - "What did you change recently?", "Corrective Redesign", and "Timing Problems". These, and the other eighteen items covered are most certainly relevant today regardless of the programming language(s) or environments. Other chapters that are well grounded in principles include (3) Prevention, (4) Coding Practices, (6) Testing and (7) Management.
- It's an easy read. Each chapter addresses topics in short one-to-two page essays. I especially like the wry humor which reminds me of Geoffrey James' "The Tao of Programming" (ISBN 0931137071), and the fact that each topic is covered in sufficient depth to make you think, but doesn't go into superfluous or unnecessary detail.
- Gerald Weinberg's forward to this book could have been written yesterday instead of in 1989!
Of course, if you are one of the shrinking group of MVS (and VM) systems programmers this book will be much more meaningful, but I think that any programmer will benefit from this book. I would love to see it updated and republished in a 3rd edition.
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