If you only buy one programming book in your life, buy this one.

Many of you will have heard me rave about Code Complete and Rapid Development. These are both by Steve McConnell and my successful programming career owes an enormous debt to them, most of my ideas on projects seeded from these books.

Back in 1997 the first revision took me over three hard months to read. Much of the material was new to me, and it really took time to sink in – some of it never clicked. Fast forward to June 2004; The Second Edition grew about two hundred pages to incorporate new fashions on the block like xp, refactoring and design patterns. I ordered it ASAP but only just found the time to read it.

Despite ten years having passed since the first edition, many fundamentals have stayed the same, and it looks like some chapters were only lightly updated. This is proof of how good the first edition was. Personally I read the first edition about four years after completing a post-grad degree in Comp Sci. As I said there were many sections that I just did not understand fully. It is now eleven years since the degree, and the book was a total pleasure to read. So many partially illuminated light bulbs are now glowing brightly.

Yes everything in the book is pretty basic stuff. The Design Patterns/ Extreme Programming/ XAML/ Avalon/ only-in-pre-Alpha release crowd will not be impressed, there are few new buzzwords to impress people with. IMO it is far more important to have good grasp of the basics before we go out looking for new hammers to use on our next project. How many of us have seen a Design Pattern used inappropriately, just because a developer happened to read about it lately?

The book is only $34 from Amazon and Steve has made some chapters available for free.