The Value of Working Code

I submitted a review last night to the Journal of Statistical Software. Despite being a journal for statisticians, much of what happens in JSS is code. Lots and lots of code. And I realized, as I wrote my review, that I place a premium on working examples in a book, especially a textbook. A good book on programming, or anything closely related, needs to have a lot of well thought out, and working, examples to drive it. And last night’s review is not even the first time I have brought this issue up on the pages of JSS.

Part of this is the Hacker Ethic. Part of this is the Agile ethic of working code over documentation, though a good book should do both. And, preferably, the code should be unencumbered.

Image by Thomas Guest / Flickr.