Book review: I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code,” Second Edition

661707cvr.inddYou can read a pretty in-depth review of Eric Brechner’s I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code”: A Decade of Hard-Won Lessons from Microsoft (Second Edition) at the ZDNet UK Book Reviews site. The review is by Mary Branscombe, and it begins like this:

What's it like to work at Microsoft? Better still, what do the people who write software at Microsoft actually do? This annotated collection of software development columns, originally written for internal consumption, is a fascinating view of what's infuriating, what's inspiring and what's plain bizarre (Frisbee golf morale events, for example).

Hard Code calls itself "the brutal truth about coding, testing and project management", and there's lots of nitty-gritty detail at that level (written in a feisty, 'I dare you to argue with me' style punctuated by pithy footnotes explaining the more cryptic internal Microsoft references). It's also an intriguing look at how Microsoft develops software, the way the Windows team is run (and how Steven Sinofsky changed that), and what the people who work on products at Microsoft care and argue about.

I. M. Wright is the alter ego of Eric Brechner, whose title is the rather fluffy Director of Development Excellence, working most recently on services. However, there's nothing fluffy about the writing, or the topics he chooses. For developers and managers this is an excellent guide to hiring, managing and motivating developers and creating productive rather than dysfunctional teams, that you can dip in and out of (helped by the comprehensive index). It's worth reading just for the column on the different approaches of 'techies' and 'fuzzies' (Brechner's typically provocative term for most non-developers) and the suggestions about writing resilient code that restarts if there's an error.


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