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Friday, December 08, 2006

I'm Rediscovering C with K&R

Lately I've been rediscovering C. The programming language, that is. Mostly, I've been doing it by reading Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie's classic tutorial on the language, The C Programming Language. By today's standards, it's a rather thin book, only 272 pages, but it's the best book ever written on the subject, and vastly superior to any 1,000-page Learn C in 21 days and the like. If I was allowed a single computer book to emulate, it would be it, the classic K&R.

They don't get any better than K&R. The book's concise yet thorough, easy to read, and never wordy. And it was the first book to showcase a Hello World example program.

Now, I'm not a real programmer by any means. While some of my code is actually used out there, and I've been paid good money for it, most is rather bad, wordy, and overly ambitious. Which brings me to another book I'm craving at the moment: Code Complete, by Steven McConnell. It's a general-purpose volume from Microsoft Press (of all places) on writing good, professional-quality code, containing best practices of all sorts, from tips on testing to the pseudo-code method, and much, much more. I've been reading it at the local bookstore for days now, and while it's way too expensive to buy there, it's more reasonably priced at Amazon and other online Meccas.

It's my current #1 obsession to get that book, and while I really don't have the money right now, I fully expect to give in to the temptation shortly. A few abstract clicks late one night, a PayPal message, and it's mine.

I'll let you know.

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