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"Code Complete" Considered Harmful for C Programmers
am 1. Februar 2000
Although "Code Complete" is in many respects a worthwhile compilation of experience that is otherwise difficult to find in one place, when it comes to specifics of C programming its virtues are marred by numerous errors and un-C-like style. It is clear that the author had little experience, and was rather uncomfortable, with the language. Classic beginner blunders like incorrect end of file tests, macros which produce syntax errors in some contexts, sequence point errors, and confusion about null pointers are generously represented. We are advised to use names which begin with underscores (in ignorance of the C standard) and "cute" macros like "#define AND &&" which experienced C programmers hold in low regard for good reasons.
Granted, this is not written as a C programming text. Still, there is lots of C-specific advice and C programming examples, and readers deserve a more professional treatment. Given the popularity of this book it would be nice to see its flaws corrected in a second edition. In the meantime read it for its general advice, but learn your C from the experts. (Kernighan & Ritchie, Harbison & Steele, and Steve Summit's book length FAQ won't lead you wrong.)