Review: “What Compsci textbooks don’t tell you: Real world code sucks”

I’ve been catching up on my reading queue. I’ve been quite busy in the last few months that many articles has slipped by me, and they’re in my backlog. One article I’ve been meaning to review is: “What Compsci textbooks don’t tell you: Real world code sucks.” The author attempts to make a claim that textbooks should acknowledge the messy world of software development, or should be less than stellar.

I agree with a few of the author’s points on what causes bad code/designs, however I believe that the author misses the point when he relates it to the content of textbooks. Textbooks are meant to be condensed learning resources. They tend not to be fluffy and full of relatable content. With a textbook one should be able to reliably consume the facts associated with the subject, and not the current commentary of the industry surrounding it. Textbook-code that was relatable to practice would be an inefficient method of delivery to the reader. Unless it is briefly mentioned, it would be silly and unprofessional for a computer science textbook to make snide remarks on real-world coding practices, gender politics/representation in the computer industry, how most technologies are not used fully, or any other non-topic rants within a textbook. A good text book will stand the test of time.

In short, I believe that Mr. Mandl, the author, would be more interested in industry and learning social trends.

  • Eric Hydrick

    Another point is that textbooks are designed to teach you how to write code *properly*. 

    • crash025

      Exactly! If a textbook had an intentionally wrong example it should be mentioned in the errata [something that appears to be disappearing] or updated in the electronic version.