Coders at Work: Reflections on the Craft of Programming

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Apress, Sep 16, 2009 - Computers - 632 pages
12 Reviews

Peter Seibel interviews 15 of the most interesting computer programmers alive today in Coders at Work, offering a companion volume to Apress’s highly acclaimed best-seller Founders at Work by Jessica Livingston. As the words “at work” suggest, Peter Seibel focuses on how his interviewees tackle the day-to-day work of programming, while revealing much more, like how they became great programmers, how they recognize programming talent in others, and what kinds of problems they find most interesting.

Hundreds of people have suggested names of programmers to interview on the Coders at Work web site: The complete list was 284 names. Having digested everyone’s feedback, we selected 15 folks who’ve been kind enough to agree to be interviewed:

Frances Allen: Pioneer in optimizing compilers, first woman to win the Turing Award (2006) and first female IBM fellow Joe Armstrong: Inventor of Erlang Joshua Bloch: Author of the Java collections framework, now at Google Bernie Cosell: One of the main software guys behind the original ARPANET IMPs and a master debugger Douglas Crockford: JSON founder, JavaScript architect at Yahoo! L. Peter Deutsch: Author of Ghostscript, implementer of Smalltalk-80 at Xerox PARC and Lisp 1.5 on PDP-1 Brendan Eich: Inventor of JavaScript, CTO of the Mozilla Corporation Brad Fitzpatrick: Writer of LiveJournal, OpenID, memcached, and Perlbal Dan Ingalls: Smalltalk implementor and designer Simon Peyton Jones: Coinventor of Haskell and lead designer of Glasgow Haskell Compiler Donald Knuth: Author of The Art of Computer Programming and creator of TeX Peter Norvig: Director of Research at Google and author of the standard text on AI Guy Steele: Coinventor of Scheme and part of the Common Lisp Gang of Five, currently working on Fortress Ken Thompson: Inventor of UNIX Jamie Zawinski: Author of XEmacs and early Netscape/Mozilla hacker What you’ll learnHow the best programmers in the world do their jobs! Who this book is for

Programmers interested in the point of view of leaders in the field. Programmers looking for approaches that work for some of these outstanding programmers.

Table of Contents Jamie Zawinski Brad Fitzpatrick Douglas Crockford Brendan Eich Joshua Bloch Joe Armstrong Simon Peyton Jones Peter Norvig Guy Steele Dan Ingalls L Peter Deutsch Ken Thompson Fran Allen Bernie Cosell Donald Knuth

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A fun book with some great interviews with programmers. Peter Seibel did a wonderful job of coaxing stories and insights from them.

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It's a splendid book and worthwhile read for anyone who is a programmer and enjoys programming. What you will observe in in this book, all the coders covered were of different types, enjoying hacking on different parts of system, developed different kinds of programs ranging from one page scripts to language design and everything in between from database interacting systems, compilers. Some truly enjoy theoretical aspects of computer science too. All gave good opinion and had strong em-phasing on testing and writing unit tests.
They had different ideas on many aspects like, if C language is responsible for many security loopholes and surprisingly many had a dislike towards C++, stating it as complex beast. Ken Thompson comes in strongest in his views against C++. The best social aspects I liked were the thoughts of jwz, then I like Brad Fritzpatrik's enthusiasm in developing webapps, database driven system and tools that support that. Simon Peyton Jones talks about Lazy evaluation in every page. I found Joe Armstrong approach to programming stunning! It seemed to me that if he had a requirement to do anything, be it compiler or distributed network system, he would simply sit down and write it.
Lot's of anecdotes from the lives of great programmers. Peter Seibel does a great job as a writer and as an interviewer. The writing is good that I am inspired to read Peter Seibel's technical work "Practical common lisp" as the next one, along with the bibliography material of this book. I cherished reading this one.

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Jamie Zawinski
Brad Fitzpatrick
Douglas Crockford
Brendan Eich
Joshua Bloch
Joe Armstrong
Simon Peyton Jones
Peter Norvig
Dan Ingalls
L Peter Deutsch
Ken Thompson
Fran Allen
Bernie Cosell
Donald Knuth

Guy Steele

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About the author (2009)

Peter Seibel is a serious developer of long standing. In the early days of the Web, he hacked Perl for Mother Jones and Organic Online. He participated in the Java revolution as an early employee at WebLogic which, after its acquisition by BEA, became the cornerstone of the latter's rapid growth in the J2EE sphere. He has also taught Java programming at UC Berkeley Extension. He is the author of Practical Common LISP from Apress.

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