Current Reading for October 2008

For some reason, I purchased and started reading three books this month. My initial favorite is the recently released “Developing Facebook Platform Applications with Rails“. Because I had preordered the book, it was an unexpected addition to my reading list. I really should pay attention to my preorder queue on Amazon. The book is a tutorial on building a feature full Facebook application using the Facebooker plug-in. After bulding a few small Facebook applications using PHP, I’m excited to use RAILS and the nicely integrated Facebooker library. I’ve accessed the canvas and profile sections of Facebook, but have yet to create messages or take advantage of the social graph.  I will share my progress as the next great facebook application is being built.

I picked up “The Art of Agile Development” at the Web 2.0 NY conference back in September.  It has been difficult to read the book end to end. I’ve skimmed most chapters and only found a few to be useful.  Chapter 8 on “Planning” was immediately helpful for my debates at work. We spend a lot of time arguing over time boxing -vs- feature boxing our projects. A large portion of the book is devoted to test driven development, peer programming and code reviews, not as interesting to me as this has been covered by many other agile books. I’m searching for new insights on integrating Agile methodologies into existing companies and working with the business on estimations and expectations.

High Performance MySQL” is a book I’ve hoped to read for a long time.  Using a gift certificate for Borders, I picked it up for $49.99 (minus my 20% coorporate discount).  I’ve decided this book should be required reading for all engineers who use MySQL. The database is easliy approachable and has a small learning curve; so, most developers build their tables or db migrations and move on to more important tasks. I’ve found this is a common mistake, even for seasoned engineers.  MySQL has an advanced feature set and provides many unique ways to optimize for reads, writes or replication.  I’ve realized that having used MySQL to build a basic database for a website is not enough experience for a highlite on your resume.  I’m suggesting this book to my coworkers..  While it can be dry, the education is worth the dryness.  My new interview question for candidates is “Describe the different use cases for the InnoDB and MyISAM engines in MySQL”.

For my ratings, I’ll give “Developing Facebook Platform Applications” 4 stars, “The Art of Agile Development” 2.5 stars and “High Performance MySQL” 3.5 stars.

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