O’Reilly news

The Art of Readable Code--New from O'Reilly Media: Simple and Practical Techniques for Writing Better Code

November 8, 2011

The Art of Readable Code

Request Review copy

Sebastopol, CA—As programmers, we've all seen source code that's so ugly and buggy it makes our brains ache. Over the past five years, authors Dustin Boswell and Trevor Foucher have analyzed hundreds of examples of "bad code" (much of it their own) to determine why it's bad and how it could be improved. Their conclusion? You need to write code that minimizes the time it takes someone else to understand it—even if that someone else is you.

The Art of Readable Code (O'Reilly Media, $34.99 USD) focuses on basic principles and practical techniques you can apply every time. Using easy-to-digest examples from different languages, each chapter demonstrates how you can make your code easy to understand.

"Most engineers just don't think about readability as consciously as they should," says Boswell. "I wanted to write a book that would bring awareness to the issue, but also give specific tips and guidance on how to do it. Specifically, I wanted to create a practical book that a junior developer could start reading and immediately improve the readability of their code. There is also a real need for programmers to read this book. The majority of code out there is unreadable.

"After reading this book," Boswell says, "you'll be able to look at your own code and realize why it might be unreadable. More importantly, you'll be armed with a lot of principles and techniques that will let you comb through your code to make it better."

  • Simplify naming, commenting, and formatting with tips that apply to every line of code
  • Refine your program's loops, logic, and variables to reduce complexity and confusion
  • Attack problems at the function level, such as reorganizing blocks of code to do one task at a time
  • Write effective test code that is thorough and concise—as well as readable

Advance Praise
"Being aware of how the code you create affects those who look at it later is an important part of developing software. The authors did a great job in taking you through the different aspects of this challenge, explaining the details with instructive examples."
—Michael Hunger, software developer

For a review copy or more information please email gretchen@oreilly.com. Please include your delivery address and contact information.

About the Authors

Although raised in the circus, Dustin Boswell realized early on that he was better at computers than at acrobatics. Dustin received his B.S. from CalTech, where he got hooked on Computer Science, and then went to UC San Diego for his Master's Degree. He worked at Google for five years, on a variety of projects including web crawling infrastructure. Dustin is now an internet startup junkie who spends his free time hiking the Santa Monica mountains and being a new dad.

View Dustin Boswell's full profile page.

Trevor Foucher has been shipping software projects for over 10 years, including Windows 2000 and OneCare at Microsoft, and Webmaster Tools at Google. He's been an individual contributor, manager, and tech lead. His goal is to make code more readable and reliable.

View Trevor Foucher's full profile page.

Additional Resources
For more information about the book, including table of contents, author bios, and cover graphic, see: http://shop.oreilly.com/product/9780596802301.do

The Art of Readable Code The Art of Readable Code
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
By Dustin Boswell, Trevor Foucher
Print ISBN: 9780596802295   Ebook ISBN: 9781449314170  
Pages: 204
Print Price: $34.99   Ebook Price: $27.99  

Request Review copy

About O’Reilly

O’Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O’Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying “faint signals” from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An active participant in the technology community, the company has a long history of advocacy, meme-making, and evangelism.

Email a link to this press release