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The New C Standard - free ebook for C coders

INQ Exclusive A forest saved by the bits
Tue Jun 21 2005, 11:27
INQ READER and C programming language connoisseur Derek M. Jones, who heads his own company Knowledge Software Ltd. based in Blighty, has decided to give away his latest book for free, after his publisher decided not to print it.

The work is entitled: "The New C Standard - An Economic and Cultural Commentary" and is described as, "a detailed analysis of the International Standard for the C language".

Once again the INQUIRER helps the environment preventing the axing of thousands of trees by promoting the digital delivery of information over the mess of copper wires and fiber-optic links often referred to as the interweb. And in the case of this huge e-book, the author might have saved a large forest from the chainsaws.

He tells us what lead him to this decision: "Addison Wesley decided not to publish my book at a very late stage (so much for contracts; how come I never see recommendations for leg breakers based in Boston on the Inquirer?). Now that the copyright issues have been sorted out I am making the book freely available on the net."

Derek Jones studied Physics & Electronic Engineering at the University of Leeds. He has worked at various large companies and has also been running his own company since 1983, producing compilers and code optimization tools. He's been working for several years on tools for checking C code for faults, quality and portability, and also represented the UK at International C Standard meetings for six years, he tells us. "But spending a week, twice a year, in a hotel room discussing the C Standard eventually dampens enthusiasm for the role".

He adds: "Apart from being initially very upset with them I don't hold anything against Addison Wesley. I appreciate that the book has an unusual format and is rather large - I did not know until almost crunch time that it was on the limit of what non specialist printers can handle, in terms of number of pages-."

Going back to the book contents, Derek describes "The New C Standard" further: "it contains a detailed analysis of C (well actually just the language, ie no library) from a variety of perspectives. It assumes that the reader is already familiar with C (ie it is not another "Learn C in 21 days"; it actually requires some prior knowledge".

He continues: "One major new angle is using the results from cognitive psychology to try and figure out how developers comprehend code. The aim being to try and produce some guidelines that reduce costs (ie reduce the time needed and bugs created). The book also contains the results of lots of measurements (over 400 figures and tables) in an attempt to back the arguments being made -another unusual feature since most software related books don't publish any figures to back up what they say-".

Not being a connoisseur of the C programming language (sorry, Derek), I learned much from the book, and given Derek's credentials this is not a rushed job. And since it's not paper based, I'm positive it's also no hatchet job.

In fact, Derek's book is impressive, starting with its size: it's 1616 pages long and written over the course of several years. If C coding standards, the "HOWs and WHYs" of C coding are of interest to you, I'm sure you'll find this book of use. The list of its 1448 bibliographical references alone comprises the last 38 pages.

He concludes: "This offer is an exclusive to Inquirer readers (it has not been made to the vultures at the other place; well not yet anyway, I am willing to keep it exclusive until next week). Neither has information on the availability of the pdf been posted, yet, to any newsgroup."

Find Mr. Jones book, over here. It's a 7.9MB+ PDF file hosted in Derek's personal hosting space at NTL. He warns: "NTL doesn't specify any download bandwidth limits for customer web sites. Since there is nothing important on that site I am not worried about being capped, should NTL suddenly impose an undocumented limit".

Thanks Derek! µ

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