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Search in Book Reviews

The ACCU passes on review copies of computer books to its members for them to review. The result is a large, high quality collection of book reviews by programmers, for programmers. Currently there are 1949 reviews in the database and more every month.
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Professional Software Development
Steve McConnell
Chris Hills
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I looked at this book with some enthusiasm as I had just written a piece on similar lines for an Embedded Systems Engineering magazine. (see the ESE columns on the ESE web site or my own
). This book looks at what makes a software engineer, personality types, the way we work, and the author's own "pilgrims progress" of how he moved from being a interested in programming though to wanting licensed software professionals. It is fascinating and raises many points.

Rather than a book on project management or code development, which it does mention in passing, this book looks at the philosophy, ethics and practicalities of being a software engineer. It looks at working practices, including stock options, overtime and free t-shirts. Engineering, art, bridge building and software are all linked with contrasts in their professions and discipline. All thought provoking stuff.

A large part of the book, perhaps half, looks at licensing professional engineer and sets out how this could be done in the US. It covers qualifications, experience, training and industry exams in fact virtually everything that BCS or IEE membership and Chartered Engineer requires. The author mentions every US body but chooses not to mention the IEE, BCS or the C.Eng in the book although he does know about them and looked at them prior to writing this book.

Whilst the book is well done and well thought out it is a totally US centric view that re-invents the wheel and ignores all the current systems in Europe, which makes it highly recommended for US readers but of little use for anyone else. In fact it could be misleading for European readers who may not realise that there is already a UK and European wide professional Engineer (and Professional Software Engineer) system that has been running for some decades. This is a pity as I fully support the reasoning and the thrust of the book. So I can only recommend this book for US readers. In fact I would suggest that it is essential for all US programmers or software Engineers. UK/European based programmers can get the same information by joining the IEE or BCS.