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Designing Highly Useable Software by Jeff Cogswell

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<pre>Author/s : Jeff Cogswell
Publisher : Sybex
Category : Other
Review by : Ernest Friedman-Hill
Rating : 5 horseshoes
</pre>
If you've read Alan Cooper's excellent "The Inmates are Running the Asylum", you're familiar with the format of "Designing Highly Useable Software": the main text talks about broad useability issues, while entertaining (or frightening) sidebars pillory the flaws in the design of everyday things. But whereas I sympathized with Cooper, I had trouble identifying with Jeff Cogswell. The sidebars, meant to be amusing, are mostly distracting: they are rarely relevant to the main topic being discussed on the same page. Worse, Cogswell goes much too far in complaining about the difficulty of living in the world around him; the reasonable reader won't recognize himself in these vignettes. Worse still, whenever this book steps away from abstract useability discussions and into coding specifics, technical errors appear that shake the reader's confidence.
I had high hopes for this book. Perversely, I expect slimmer books to be better than fatter ones. At a relatively slim 300+ pages, I looked forward to a good read packed with useful advice. Instead, the book dragged on. The last five or six chapters (on such topics as dynamic libraries, OOP, management, and training -- all with a heavy emphasis on an outdated, waterfall-like development methodology) feel precisely like padding. The first half-dozen alone, with more specific useability advice and fewer suggested implementation details, might have formed the basis of a far better book. But as it stands, I can't recommend this book.


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