Index  Comments

The book being reviewed is ``Coders at Work'' by Peter Seibel (ISBN 978-1-4302-1948-4). Information concerning it may be found here.

This work is based around interviews with fifteen well-known or influential programmers. The book's style is conversational, with background and an introduction preceding each chapter. The book makes for rather light reading due to this. Many of the programmers are asked the same manner of question and the varying responses are interesting for their variations and similarities.

The interview with Jamie Zawinski was suitably interesting, due to his history. The interviews with Brad Fitzpatrick, Douglas Crockford, and Brendan Eich heavily involve their WWW work and so this has them far less interesting than many of the other interviews. Similarly, Joshua Block programs using Java for a malicious corporation.

The chapter detailing Joe Armstrong details parallel programming, message passing, and has value for those who want to learn of Erlang and related systems. Simon Peyton Jones' chapter ignited interest in me primarily due to ignorance of Haskell and related works, and learning of this language's early history was amusing. Peter Norvig I disagree with in several respects, as in his interview he spoke against certain types of programs having correctness, boolean characteristics, and similar nonsense. Guy Steele is similar to Jamie Zawinski, in that his history is of primary interest, and his work on Common Lisp and other such systems also makes it a worthwhile read.

I don't currently care to remark at all on the later interviews; this book is something of a bore to review, as reviews are easily made long and, while all generally have something of interest, finding such isn't so easy so as to be trivial.

This book contains interviews with quite a few I find rather uninteresting. Programmers involved in the WWW, C, and UNIX are overrepresented. There are several important people with no interview made here and I find that poor; those interviews worth reading moreso than the remainder are of Zawinski, Armstrong, Jones, Steele, Ingalls, Allen, Cosell, and Knuth; which is just more than half. The lack of particularly esoteric topics is disappointing, I think.