I promised myself I wasn’t going to have a blog filled with a lot of book reviews. But having just finished “Why Software Sucks” by David S. Platt (http://www.amazon.com/Why-Software-Sucks-What-About/dp/0321466756/sr=8-1/qid=1172286512/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/105-8037691-1992410?ie=UTF8&s=books or http://shrinkster.com/mdg), I find I can’t resist mentioning it.
David S. Platt is a software developer, author, and teacher at Harvard University Extension. However this book is not targeted at the experienced software developer, but instead at the average computer user. He gives the reader a basic knowledge of how software works, so they will know what is possible and what is not. Armed with knowledge about the possibilities of software development, the average joe can then determine when software sucks as opposed to just bumping into current limitations.
One reviewer on Amazon said he “…didn’t find anything new in the book for seasoned UI developers.” That’s a shame, as it shows he clearly didn’t get the point of the book. This book is not targeted at developers. It’s for users, so they will know when you’ve written good software, and when you’re handing them crap.
While it’s true this book is not packed with development techniques, it’s still an important read for any programmer. As a developer with over twenty years experience, what Mr. Platt’s book gave me was insight. To be reminded that the code I write is to be used by people other than developers. He helped me to see my application through the eyes of an average user, or to quote Mr. Platt, “Your users are not you!”
This was not a thick or expensive book, and was filled with enough humor to keep it a quick yet enjoyable read. At the same time it was serious enough to deal with the subject of user interfaces in a meaningful way. After reading this book, I think the best compliment someone will be able to give me about my applications is “it just works!”
For more information see the authors site at http://whysoftwaresucks.com/.
Standard disclaimer, I make no money from book sales, nor have I any financial affiliation with Amazon, the author, David S. Platt, the publisher, the guys who grew the trees that got turned into paper the book was printed on, the truck drivers that delivered the books, the company that hosts the authors website, nor am I the father of Anna Nicole Smith’s baby. Just so that’s all clear.