Book Image

Understanding Software

By : Max Kanat-Alexander
Book Image

Understanding Software

By: Max Kanat-Alexander

Overview of this book

In Understanding Software, Max Kanat-Alexander, Technical Lead for Code Health at Google, shows you how to bring simplicity back to computer programming. Max explains to you why programmers suck, and how to suck less as a programmer. There’s just too much complex stuff in the world. Complex stuff can’t be used, and it breaks too easily. Complexity is stupid. Simplicity is smart. Understanding Software covers many areas of programming, from how to write simple code to profound insights into programming, and then how to suck less at what you do! You'll discover the problems with software complexity, the root of its causes, and how to use simplicity to create great software. You'll examine debugging like you've never done before, and how to get a handle on being happy while working in teams. Max brings a selection of carefully crafted essays, thoughts, and advice about working and succeeding in the software industry, from his legendary blog Code Simplicity. Max has crafted forty-three essays which have the power to help you avoid complexity and embrace simplicity, so you can be a happier and more successful developer. Max's technical knowledge, insight, and kindness, has earned him code guru status, and his ideas will inspire you and help refresh your approach to the challenges of being a developer.
Table of Contents (50 chapters)
Understanding Software
About the Author
Customer Feedback
The Engineer Attitude
The Singular Secret of the Rockstar Programmer
Software Design, in Two Sentences
Clues to Complexity
Ways To Create Complexity: Break Your API
When Is Backwards-Compatibility Not Worth It?
Complexity is a Prison
The Accuracy of Future Predictions
Simplicity and Strictness
Two is Too Many
What is a Bug?
What is a Computer?
The Components of Software: Structure, Action, and Results
Software as Knowledge
Simplicity and Security
How We Figured Out What Sucked
Why Programmers Suck
Developer Hubris
"Consistency" Does Not Mean "Uniformity"
Success Comes from Execution, Not Innovation

Down the Rabbit Hole

Beyond all of this, if you really want to get adventurous, there's one more question you can ask: why did the developer write buggy code in the first place? Why was it possible for a bug to ever exist? Is it a problem with the developer's education? Was it something about their process? Should they be writing tests as they go? Was there some design problem in the system that made it hard to modify? Is the programming language too complex? Are the libraries they're using not well-written? Is the operating system not behaving well? Was the documentation unclear?

Once you get your answer, you can ask what the underlying cause of that problem is, and continue asking that question until you're satisfied. But beware: this can take you down a rabbit hole and into a place that changes your whole view of software development. In fact, theoretically this system is unlimited, and would eventually result in resolving the underlying problems of the entire software industry. How far...