REVIEW - The Art of Programming Embedded Systems


The Art of Programming Embedded Systems


Jack Ganssle



Academic Press (1992)




Chris Hills


December 1999



My first impression of this book was its appalling cover. The whole cover is pale blue with the title in block capitals in black. There is nothing else on the cover. However, inside I was pleasantly surprised, as there are many pearls of wisdom. Whilst the text is informative the book is let down by the choice of target CPU, the venerable Z80 family. Although embedded systems are still largely 8 bit the Z80 CPU is not widely used when compared to MCUs such as the 8051, 68HC05/8I or PICs.

There are some useful programs, such as the bit banging routine for generating a serial port from an IO pin and some not so useful such as an RTOS. (I for one will not be copy typing it.) The programs that are in the book would have benefited from flow diagrams so that the algorithms were obvious and can be converted to other MCUs. The several pages of assembler are of little use except on the CPU it is meant for. This lack of diagrams is surprising given the authors comments on building collections of algorithms for use on many projects. It almost seems that the author gave the text to someone else to turn into a book.

There are some very useful thoughts and ideas in the book on all aspects of embedded software engineering, clearly distilled from many years in the industry. Many areas are covered but, unfortunately, all too briefly in many cases. I kept feeling the author could have said more.

Looking at the date on the book, 1992, I would suggest that the author revamps the book as a second edition at half the price with more diagrams and less assembler. Whilst the book contains many pearls of wisdom it is somewhat slim and much of the information is getting dated or in the case of the assembly source code very CPU specific. The information and tips are clearly very useful but on balance, I cannot recommend this book as it is but at half the price (or a new edition) it would be worth considering.

Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.

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