Mind the age and context of the book

Usually IT books don't age very well, things change very fast in the sector. This is specially true of books on particular tools, libraries, frameworks... but even books about methods and techniques require critical thinking when studying them. If the book is 5 or 10 years old, it's very likely that the author himself doesn't code the way he described in his book. We evolve as programmers - hopefully. However that doesn't mean that the book is no longer valuable. Many things are still valuable for sure, we just have to figure out what slices are useful today given our current context. Reasoning may be different if the programming language is not the same you use today, or even if its version is not the same. The paradigm may be different as well. Tools change and evolve very fast so unit tests written today, with all the fancy assertion libraries we have plus all the modern features of xUnit frameworks,  have to be very different to the unit tests you can find in a book written a decade ago.

I am currently reading a classic book, a great one from Martin Fowler Signature series - not written by Martin though. The book is terrific, I wander why didn't I read it then years ago! I am getting a lot of value from it, but I also notice certain old fashion techniques with well-known downsides.

I wrote a book on TDD 6 years ago. Since then my programming style has changed quite a lot. The way I do TDD today is different, and there are certain examples in the book that I even consider anti-patterns. I don't know when will I be able to rewrite it, although I wish, but the reality is that time flies.

Consider the age and context of books, don't just assume everything is valid today

Enjoyed reading this post?
Subscribe to the RSS feed and have all new posts delivered straight to you.
  • http://rchavarria.github.io/ R. Chavarría T.

    I don’t usually like books about specific tools, libraries or frameworks. They get old very fast. In contrast, books about techniques or practices (I don’t find better words in English) are still valid after long periods of time. Sometimes they are not 100% valid in the current context, maybe, the original author has evolved, but they help me find the way the author took, so they still has value, they are showing a path.

    BTW, could I know the book are you talking about?

  • http://www.carlosble.com/ Carlos Ble

    Had I told you which book is it, I would have to kill you afterwards 🙂

    But yes, indeed there is a lot of value in those books!