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The best books for a software engineer are the ones that are useful for many years.
They are independent of technological changes and we can read them for their general principles.
Here are the best books for a software engineer to read.
Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship
Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship is a book by Robert C. Martin, also known as Uncle Bob that outlines the principles of agile software development and how to write clean code.
Clean code is source code that people understand and change easily.
He goes through the basics like naming, functions, classes, SOLID, and more to show us how to write code well.
In addition, he goes over how to make code neat and easy to read.
The proper use of comments are also emphasized. He suggests that good code is better than comments.
Then he goes over the proper ways to handle errors and good designs for object-oriented programs.
Also, he places great emphasis on automated testing to reduce the burden of manual testing and make software changes easier.
The books go over the principles in Java but they apply to many other programming languages.
It’s a book that outlines all the good practices that we need to know to write high-quality programs.
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The Pragmatic Programmer: 20th Anniversary Edition, 2nd Edition: Your Journey to Mastery
This is another book that shows us how to write code that’s easy for us to read and maintain.
Like Clean Code, it starts from the basics and also discuss more advanced concepts.
It’s aimed at both entry level and experienced programmers.
This book has emphasis of making modular code, reducing duplication not only in code but also in everything else involved in building software.
Also, it goes over ways to test ideas and make them reality faster.
Refactoring and testing are also discussed in great details.
This the follow up to the original edition that is more than 20 years old.
They are both classics and both editions still have useful concepts that we can apply today.
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The Clean Coder: A Code of Conduct for Professional Programmers
This is another book by Robert C. Martin, which also written Clean Code.
It’s a book that shows us how to be a professional programmer.
It’s the definitive guide that explains how to be a good programmer from a nontechnical perspective.
This book focuses on making commitments, taking responsibility, improving speed.
Furthermore, it talks about testing, time management, estimation, dealing with pressure, and collaboration.
These are all the things that we have to deal with and Robert shares his wisdom with us so that we don’t have to go through the difficulties he went through.
It’s a good book that will make our lives easier if we’re programming software for a living.
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Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code
This is another time-tested book that shows us how to create high-quality software.
The angle is different from the others in that this one shows us how to make incremental changes to our code to improve its quality.
First it emphasizes the importance of tests, which are needed before refactoring.
Then it goes over common refactoring techniques with examples in Java.
However, it applies to many other programming languages, since they’re general things that many object-oriented languages can do.
Refactoring including functions, classes, big and small changes, abstraction and more are discussed in this book.
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Code Complete is a big book on software development that goes through the best practices for software engineer from start to finish.
It starts from gathering requirements and the general steps of creating designs for complex systems, all the way to the smallest details of naming and functions.
Everything is discussed in great detail. Therefore, this is a one-stop shop for learning the best practices of software engineer all in one place.
It makes us think about all the cases when building software and find ways to build what users what instead of we think they want.
Also, it goes through the principles of refactoring all the way to the smallest details like spacing and formatting.
Debugging is also a topic that it goes through.
Collaborative development is a topic that it covers in details. Like the other books, teamwork is something that it goes over.
This book is good for programmers at any experience level. Even though it has examples in C++, C#, Java and Visual Basic, those principles apply well to other languages as well.
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These books are great for any software engineer. They have timeless principles that we can use at any time or situation.
After reading them, you’ll be a great programmer.