SDWest 2006: My McConnell Moment

I'll be attending SDWest 2006 all next week (March 13 - 17) in Santa Clara, California.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at:

I have to agree that Tog writes pretty well and is fun to read. I also really liked Maguire’s line of thinking in writing solid code: “How can I automate finding this type of error next time?”

I can also tell you who my anti-hero is. Charles Petzold. That book he wrote on how to develop Windows apps is one of the worst, and has caused so much bad development in the Windows world. I just cringe every time I think about it.

My first Coding Hero, also pre-Internet, was Francesco Balena. I bought a book on advanced Visual Basic 6 by him, and the guy managed to convince me that I could walk proudly among my peers, even though I wrote code in that language everybody despised. As Chuck Yeager, another one of my heroes, used to say: “Remember, it’s the man, not the machine”.

earliest was probably whoever wrote BMD.

next, Gus Bjorkland, for creating Progress.

lastly, and most lastingly, Allen Holub. everyone must read his “Bank of Allen” series. the most cogent and succinct explanation of what OO programming should be. an antidote for Bean Programming.

Not my first and perhaps not the one I’m most influenced by at the moment, but the one that springs to mind is:

Joshua Bloch [formerly Sun, now Google], writer of “Effective java”. I’ve seen him live on JavaOne as well, very good at giving lectures.


Scott Knasters. I started on a Mac.

In addition to McConnell: Steve Maguire (Debugging the Development Process) and Jim McCarthy (Dynamics of Software Development). These other two talked about the people as well as the nuts and bolts of coding, and they spoke in very human voices.

Microsoft Press’s finest books, ever. They put these books out in a box I think, together with McConnell’s RAD book.

Eric Raymond, for putting together the New Hacker’s Dictionary. I learned a lot of attitude and code aesthetics from that dictionary.

McConnell, for me, is more of a writing hero than a coding hero, but I’m otherwise in agreement. To his name and Maguire’s, add Scott Meyers, Bruce Tognazzini, and Kent Beck.

Oddly enough, my own personal code hero would have to be Robert Pirsig. Myself, I never came across any truly inspirational books about programming, though the one Pirsing wrote about motorcycling seems to have captured the a lot of the philosophy behind it fairly well.

I heart Jeff Atwood. That guy rocks!

I second (or maybe it’s third or fourth by now) McConnell. His book is all that and then some.

I’m throwing in another vote for Francesco…his book on VB6 is one of the best books on programming ever.

I’m tossing out Alan Cooper as my third hero. All you have to do is read his stuff and slap your head…I do it all the time.

Oh and that Atwood guy…he’s awesome too!

My first Coding Hero, also pre-Internet, was Francesco Balena.

I am also a huge Balena fan for the same reason. Have you been to his blog? It’s excellent:

I’m tossing out Alan Cooper as my third hero

I like Cooper, but I found that About Face 2.0 was a much better version of the book because it has a second author in the credits. Cooper’s got great ideas, but sometimes he’s a bit too much of a blowhard for his own good.

My inspiration to program came from my brother. Save from that, there are none that spring to mind as being particulaly inspirational. I did read a very well written article on programing for WPF the other day, but I forget the author or where it’s from.

Code Complete was an excellent book. I too found it incredibly well written and very informative.


Dave Anderson
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“The Two Steve’s” were my original Gurus.

Right now, my top 3 are
Michael Feathers "Working effectively with legacy code"
Craig Larman "Agile Iterative Development: A Manager’s Guide"
Alan Shalloway James Trott for “Design Patterns Explained”

I’d have to say Andy Hunt and Dave Thomas. Their Pragmatic Programmer really inspired me to take my craft seriously. Prior to reading it, I had adopted a more or less haphazard approach. Afterwards, I’ve exerted a constant effort to better myself.

Doh - can’t believe I forgot that one. “Pragmatic Programming” is such a great book on the practice. The nuts and bolts of programming. Great stuff and so succinctly written too.

“Debugging” by David Agans is a really good primer on the flip-side of programming. Debugging can be haphazard and scattershot, just like programming. This book encourages you to be methodical and scientific. Great stuff, and full of little anecdotes to make the medicine go down.

Steve McConnell was on of the first people who have really inspired me to write good and tructured good. I think my whole perception about programming changed after reading his book.

And he is a great guy too!

Oh, and Jeff Atwood has nice insights too which makes him one of my coding heroes! :smiley:

Donald Knuth, of course, with his still unfinished magnum opus, “The Art of Computer Programming”. There are others, they will come to mind shortly.

I got to meet Steve McConnell for the first time last week, at a Construx training seminar. Like you, he was my first coding hero, and remains a giant in the field.