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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive guide on common-sense software development
The subtitle of McConnell's book is "A Practical Handbook of Software Construction". I have found that it lives up to this claim excellently. Like Brook's classic "The Mythical Man-Month" Code Complete offers practical advice on the real-world challenges of software development. Code Complete contains 33 chapters, which can be read as separate...
Published on 18 July 1997

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3.0 out of 5 stars Let down by poor examples
This book is jam-packed with useful guidance and information. Unfortunately, the examples given are both few in number and rather obscure, which is as surprising as it is disappointing, considering that the book is over 800 pages long. Nevertheless, some of the tips given are clear enough, even without the benefit of accompanying code excerpts. For example, the section on...
Published on 28 Aug 2008 by S. A


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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive guide on common-sense software development, 18 July 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction (Paperback)
The subtitle of McConnell's book is "A Practical Handbook of Software Construction". I have found that it lives up to this claim excellently. Like Brook's classic "The Mythical Man-Month" Code Complete offers practical advice on the real-world challenges of software development. Code Complete contains 33 chapters, which can be read as separate essays.

To entry-level programmers and computer science students, this book is an excellent primer on the fundamentals of the industry. For experienced programmers, this book is an great way to review your own development strategies and best practices. For project managers, Code Complete serves as a great source of ideas for process improvement, as well as a great learning tool to pass on to new entry-level hires. My employer has used several chapters out of Code Complete as the basis for discussion topics.

McConnell writes in an easy-to-read, entertaining style that has made him one of the most popular authors in the field. His book "Rapid Development", is also an extremely popular book on software development, and many (including me) are anxiously awaiting his next work, "Software Project Survivial Guide".
In short, Code Complete belongs in the library of every serious developer.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you buy ONE book on software development, get this one., 10 Oct 1996
By A Customer
This review is from: Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction (Paperback)
Titled "Code Complete", McConnell's book is the definitive reference on the phase between requirements definition and pure testing. This is a book that should actually be Required Reading for programmers; some sections of it should be tattooed on the forehead of anyone wanting to manage a development team.

After touching on requirements and specs, the author goes through the various topics that merit a developer's interest, including routine design, quality assurance, and anything you might think of. Yet he does not dictate; McConnell presents hard data why you should adopt some methodology, and then offers you a selection of methods, but he never claims that his view is the only correct one.

This alone distinguishes him positively from the likes of Booch, Rumbaugh, Jacobson and so on, who peddle their books to further their seminar operations.

The author's reading list and the annotated bibliography alone are worth the price.

By the way, to use this book most effectively, leave it lying around ... until one of your co-workers snarfs it. Then, leave another copy lying around. Repeat until your environment is fully saturated and keep a final copy to yourself. (I went, since 1993, through eleven copies of "Code Complete", and the pay-off was worth it!)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exhaustive account of programming practices of last 30 years, 18 May 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction (Paperback)
Buy this book only if you are SERIOUS about programming. Because if you're not, you'll never get through it.
McConnell's book is an exhaustive guide to the nitty-gritty details of programming. There are entire CHAPTERS devoted to choosing names for variables, and dozens of pages covering every style of indenting since 1950. I am devouring programming books for my future career, and I am glad that I got this book. It covers all aspects of the design and coding process, with a heavy emphasis on readability and maintainability. It helped me to correct some bad coding practices that I developed.
I was most impressed by the references. McConnell has drawn together hundreds of papers, articles, and books written since the 60s and digested them all for you in this compact volume. He frequently quotes statistics and studies to support his claims. (Indenting lines 3-5 spaces boosts comprehension by 68%, but indenting by 6 or more spaces decreases it by 32%)
I got a real chuckle on his advice about how to deal with bosses who want to see code during the planning stages -- get printouts from previous projects and leave them around your desk, then lie!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best in its class, perhaps the ONLY book in its class?, 24 Sep 2003
This review is from: Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction (Paperback)
There are many great books on how to design software, there are many great books on how to manage software projects and the are thousands of books on programming and programming languages (not all great). But, I don't think there are any books that fill the niche filled by CC. As the title says it is about software construction, that means it is about writing software in a professional way on a professional project. It is about writing code that can be maintained for years ahead.
This is not "how to program" - for that you probably want a language specific book anyway. This is more like "how to be a programmer". The difference may seem subtle, and if you have never worked as a professional developer it may be a little vague, but there is a difference between writing code for yourself or even for a university course and writing code for a living. As an undergraduate, for example, you may want to write a recursive routine to demonstrate your knowledge but in a "real-life" project recursion is a last resort. This book explains that difference and leads the way to a preofessional approach to software development.
Highly recommended for developers. Manager could read it but to be honest they would be better off investing their time in other books, such as Rapid Development. No, this one is aimed squarely at those on the code face and should be essential reading to anyone starting a career in software.
My only gripe is that it is now 10 years old so there are no examples in Java, C++, Perl, C# etc... The examples that are given are clear and easy to follow but it would be great if an updated edition could be produced. Also, another nice-to-have would be some coverage of OO development. Don't let this put you off, just because it is not 100% up-to-date does not mean it is not 100% useful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EXELLENT, 13 Jun 2002
This review is from: Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction (Paperback)
This is a book that should be read by not only developers but also managers who work with developers! I have to admit that it can be difficult to keep to proper design, documentation, and testing part of my every day programming. However it has helped. If you read this it WILL improve your programming design and make you think that little more about the problem you are solving rather than diving straight in at the deap end into code. Thinking about the problem first will help prevent the problems that normally happen during coding and testing. Ever found yourself sure of what the code is going to do and after a couple of hours you are forced to redo some of the code because you had not though it through correctly?? Or are you managing a developement team and keep find that more time is spent debugging rather than developing the software?? If so YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK! Happy coding (complete)
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If I could, I'd give this book 10 stars! :), 10 July 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction (Paperback)
Reading this book was an eye-opening experience for me! I started programming a couple years ago in BASIC, then I switched to C taking over many of the bad programming style I developed with BASIC. Lately I discovered my interest in programming once again, read through an MFC book and began programming for Windows, a whole new field for me. I always wondered how professional programmers are able to maintain programs that are more complex than Notepad.
I thought it's just the experience and knowledge of almost all the possible (MFC) functions that exist. Code Complete showed me that it's a lot more than that, beginning by designing your program, not just starting to write code right away, up to topics like naming conventions for variables, how to determine what code to put into a routine or how to make your program easier to debug.
Although Code Complete may sound like a very dry book only for expert programmers, it really isn't. Steve McConnell even managed to throw in a lot of amusing anecdotes or witty tests - like the one: "How many of these data structures do you know?". If you checked (almost) ALL of them, you're advised to read the section about intellectual honesty - because some of the data structures are bogus names made up by the author. :)
All in all, I HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone , whether you're a professional programmer (for me that is any programmer whose job is programming <g>) or a hobbyist like me, wanting to create the applications you always dreamed of but thought you could never manage it.
Especially interesting for students or anyone trying to start a career as a programmer: this book contains a lot of 'further reading' advices with short descriptions of the books. So this book is also an excellent entry point for those wanting to become a professional programmer and are looking to fill the mind gaps where necessary.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading, but don't get too excited, 17 Dec 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction (Paperback)
This book is worth reading because no other book (that I am aware of) covers implementation-related topics in so much depth. It provides a balanced treatment of some subjects and a biased treatment of others. There are a significant number of errors (in the first edition), but it is not as bad as most of the Microsoft Press books I have read. Take the advice in this book with a grain of salt -- also, if you have time, read books/essays by Fred Brooks, Edsger Dijkstra, Donald Knuth, David Parnas, Andrew Tanenbaum, Niklaus Wirth, and Edward Yourdon for more insightful commentaries on some of the topics. (The bibliography in Code Complete is quite useful.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fundamentals people with advanced CS degrees didn't learn, 19 Aug 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction (Paperback)
Highest recommendation. A good treatment of the fundamental skills needed for writing readable, well structured code. I've seen so much code written in the latest languages, tools, and "paradigms" that's still buggy, low quality garbage because the programmers didn't master the fundamentals like how to write a decent procedure, or use meaningful variable names, or write useful comments. I wish I could give a copy of this book to the programmers whose code I maintain and get a court order to make them read every page before they touch a computer again.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Useful book, for a rusty old programmer re-tooling, 1 April 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction (Paperback)
I haven't done much programming for over 10 years now, so I needed a quick tutorial and reference guide, to help me write readable, maintainable code without taking forever.
This book seems to have done the trick. I had gotten stuck, thrashing, unable to make some seemingly trivial yet pervasive decisions.
But this book gave me some very practical guidelines, anticipating basically all of my questions (this was a pleasant surprise), so I could stop wasting time and move on.
Examples: how to think about the criteria for dividing C language routines up into modules based on information hiding, how to name the routines and module data structures to clearly emphasize the module relationships, and how to solve some cross-module problems (e.g. create a new module Z, out of the problematic routines from modules X and Y, if they depend on each other's internal data).
Also, how to move the most infrequent & error conditions out of line to the end of complex conditionals, so you can improve both readability and performance, by grouping related statements and assignments together as closely as possible.
The book is full of practical solutions to relevant problems like these, for any procedural language (code examples are mostly in C, Ada, Pascal, BASIC, or Fortran), or object-based & object-oriented languages (some C++ examples are included too).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You MUST have this book, 30 Sep 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction (Paperback)
I've recently been reading a bunch of software engineering books in an attempt to improve my skills. This is no mean feat, as I'm already the best programmer in my company. Code Complete is absolutely the best book I've ever seen on the subject. It is a must read for everyone who wants to program. I would make it required reading for all students and computer professionals. It's very readable, and if you follow it's advice it will change your life.
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Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction
Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction by Steven C. McConnell (Paperback - 27 May 1993)
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