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Joel on Software

Dreaming in Code

by Joel Spolsky
Tuesday, January 02, 2007

It's quite rare for me to be so excited about a new book that I'll write about it even before I've read it. But I just got a copy of Scott Rosenberg's new Dreaming in Code, and I can't wait to read it.

Scott Rosenberg is a founder and editor of Salon. The reason I'm so excited about this book is this: Of all the journalists covering technology and especially software development I think Scott understands it the best. He's an excellent writer, too. Two years ago, Scott interviewed me for an article in Salon called The Shlemiel way of software. A lot of other people have interviewed me, but this was the only time I ever felt that the interviewer did a great job of capturing exactly what I think.

The other reason I can't wait to read this book is that it's about the development of Chandler. I've been watching Chandler closely ever since it was probably doomed by being breathlessly hailed by Wired Magazine as "The Outlook Killer" in January, 2003. Well, it's January 2007 now, Outlook isn't dead, and Chandler is up to 0.7alpha4. Being hyped by Wired Magazine is almost certainly a bad sign. I've been wondering what the heck went so wrong on the Chandler team, or perhaps it's just a matter of good software taking ten years? Usually the first useful version takes less than that, though.

Anyway, only three days after announcing my new policy of "no gifts," I'm stuck with this copy of the book I got in the mail for free. Should I send it back and buy my own copy? The New York Times policy on Journalism Ethics says, "Staff members may keep for their own collections—but may not sell or copy—books, recordings, tapes, compact discs and computer programs sent to them for review. Such submissions are considered press releases."


Have you been wondering about Distributed Version Control? It has been a huge productivity boon for us, so I wrote Hg Init, a Mercurial tutorial—check it out!

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