Peter Seibel interviews 15 of the most interesting computer programmers alive today in Coders at Work, offering a companion volume to Apress’s highly acclaimed best-seller Founders at Work by Jessica Livingston. As the words “at work” suggest, Peter Seibel focuses on how his interviewees tackle the day-to-day work of programming, while revealing much more, like how they became great programmers, how they recognize programming talent in others, and what kinds of problems they find most interesting.
Hundreds of people have suggested names of programmers to interview on the Coders at Work web site: www.codersatwork.com. The complete list was 284 names. Having digested everyone’s feedback, we selected 15 folks who’ve been kind enough to agree to be interviewed:
- Frances Allen: Pioneer in optimizing compilers, first woman to win the Turing Award (2006) and first female IBM fellow
- Joe Armstrong: Inventor of Erlang
- Joshua Bloch: Author of the Java collections framework, now at Google
- Bernie Cosell: One of the main software guys behind the original ARPANET IMPs and a master debugger
- L. Peter Deutsch: Author of Ghostscript, implementer of Smalltalk-80 at Xerox PARC and Lisp 1.5 on PDP-1
- Brad Fitzpatrick: Writer of LiveJournal, OpenID, memcached, and Perlbal
- Dan Ingalls: Smalltalk implementor and designer
- Simon Peyton Jones: Coinventor of Haskell and lead designer of Glasgow Haskell Compiler
- Donald Knuth: Author of The Art of Computer Programming and creator of TeX
- Peter Norvig: Director of Research at Google and author of the standard text on AI
- Guy Steele: Coinventor of Scheme and part of the Common Lisp Gang of Five, currently working on Fortress
- Ken Thompson: Inventor of UNIX
- Jamie Zawinski: Author of XEmacs and early Netscape/Mozilla hacker
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About the Author
Table of Contents
- Jamie Zawinski
- Brad Fitzpatrick
- Douglas Crockford
- Brendan Eich
- Joshua Bloch
- Joe Armstrong
- Simon Peyton Jones
- Peter Norvig
- Guy Steele
- Dan Ingalls
- L Peter Deutsch
- Ken Thompson
- Fran Allen
- Bernie Cosell
- Donald Knuth
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Fascinating interviews with programmers, mostly old and famous hackers. Great insights about computing past, present and future. Siebel's questions are intelligent and the responses even more so.
In my opinion and like some of the other readers have already said, some boring stuff could easily be cut out (or at least made shorter) and the book would be 100 pages or so shorter.Overall, the book is very good and insightful.
Very good book. A wide variety of people and experiences. The interviewer asks good questions. Inspiring in parts, although there are parts that made me feel like an vast underachiever as well. Probably my favorite collection of interviews with programmers, followed by Programmers at Work.
After the reading of "Founders at Work" sharing the same interview format, "Coders at Work" is also very interesting and a very convenient way to read a book about programmers. The interview is a simple interaction but provides an easy way to access the discussion. The interesting part of the book is the common "crafting" techniques shared and used by programmers even if they have an academic background (e.g. debugging using printf statement at the right place). The discussions show a common pattern regarding software engineering or "software crafting", it's very difficult to make good software and even reaching the "good enough". That's maybe the reason why software is a nice way to make beautiful crafts.
I found myself glued to this book. I never read a book in the interview format before, and found that the conversation style was very readable and felt that I was getting into the mind of the interviewee as a result. I appreciated a number of the common themes that the interviewer raised in every interview.
This book had an interesting mix of interviews that covered many areas of the practice of programming. Each interview was different and some were more interesting then others. Overall though it is worth the read as it offers both some good history and insight into programming from the interviewed figures.
I enjoyed the interviews with former and current Yahoo and Google gurus, how they debug and what their thoughts for current programming projects. Their approach to software projects and the competitive nature of the Industry. As a programmer I would like to see other books on this subject. Thank you Peter Seibel!
What an interesting book! I never thought a book like this would get published and am so happy it did. Imagine being able to get a glimse of what legendary programmers/architects/engineers such as Brendan Eich, Joshua Bloch, Joe Armstrong, Peter Norvig, Simon Jones, Ken Thompson, Fran Allen, Bernie Cosell and Donald Knuth have to say about their life as a coder. Its like a dream come true for a developer/programmer like me (and I'm sure many others.) Some of the many (more than 30 per) sample questions that were asked: - How did one get into coding? - What were some successful projects? - What were some less-successful/failure projects and why? - What type of education is useful? - What tools does one use and why? - What does one enjoy about programming? - How one works with others and the dynamic of that. What impressed me most was the sheer range of approaches and motivations on display: everything from Jamie Zawinski's largely unschooled route to a formidable level of skill and subsequent major contributions to influential projects, to to Peter Norvig's uncommon combination of practical hacker wizardry with an almost ethereally playful interest in a variety of higher level topics, to Fran Allen's old school appreciation of quality systems and frustration at the amount of regression and small-concept thinking in the current state of the art, to Dan Ingalls' desire to make his software as flexible and alive as possible. Those interviewed also share insights into what they think of our modern world of programming. Most agree that we live in complicated and troubled times as we battle layer upon layer of software complexity. This book has lessons to be learned from the very brief history of our field, and advice for the future ("Keep it simple!"). I'm a programmer who's read a lot of stuff about programming, including a lot of material by and about some the people in these interviews, and I could barely put the book down. If you're anything like me, you should get a lot out of this book. This book is for every level of programmer/developer...from beginner to advanced. Because no matter what level you are, you are always striving to learn more and who better to gain some valuable insight then the best in the field (literally). A great and must buy for any 'coder'.