9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
The 'Spinal Tap' of software.,
This review is from: Dreaming in Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software (Paperback)
The story this book tells would be funny if it weren't so tragic. It's the sad tale of a piece of software - started in 2002 - that STILL is very, very far from finished.
I purchased the book because I was (briefly!!!) interested in the software - a Personal Information Manager called Chandler (you can go to chandler.org and download it yourself, if you have some time to waste.)
I read the book with a growing sense of disbelief - HOW many programmers? And some of them FAMOUS??? HOW much money?? HOW long??? And the software is STILL (sorry) a non-functioning piece of junk??
More than anything else, I was reminded of the movie 'Spinal Tap'... People who (to judge by this particular project) appear incompetent, talking like they are the source of all knowledge on the subject.
If anything this book is a manual on how NOT to undertake a software project. Personally, I suspect that one single programmer, working in his spare time, could have produced a better program than Chandler, and reading this book only reinforced that belief.
The failure of Chandler, of course, is not the author's fault. It's very clear that he's on the side of the programmers and their managers, and as the book closes you can sense his own sadness (tinged with disbelief) that he has to finish with no ending to his story.
However, I've deducted a few stars because he sometimes wanders so far from the central story, sometimes for several chapters. We're given long essays on why software is 'hard', before returning to the Chandler story - and then the book almost disproves its own argument by ending with an example of how a single motivated programmer can make it look easy!
A cautionary tale on why software should not be written by committee.