The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master – Book of the Week
The Pragmatic Programmer is a book by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas. They shared their experience in designing and coding software applications.
Here is what the readers are saying:
I bought this on a friend’s recommendation, but expected yet another book rehashing the same standard rules: write comments, don’t duplicate code, have plans for your projects, eat your vegetables.
Hunt and Thomas vastly exceeded my expectations. This book is never dry, often humorous, and always educational. They don’t always say what you expect them to say (e.g., about commenting code), and I didn’t always agree with them, but every sentence is full of thoughtful analysis.
One of the best features is their incredibly practical advice — while yes, this book does teach philosophy and encourages thought, it also provides many immediately-implementable suggestions.
If you aren’t a programmer with 10 years experience, buy it anyway — it is not just for experienced programmers. While you will absorb less of the book, there is still enough to learn, and it’s a great book to keep and re-read.
The book includes a pull-out card of the pithy sayings the authors use to sum up each section. Perhaps my mind just doesn’t work the way theirs does, but I didn’t find their summations to be helpful all the time — I found myself frequently having to flip back to the section to remember what a particular phrase meant. But it’s still useful.
Most software engineers don’t have the opportunity to spend time with their colleagues and just talk about the craft of software development. While you can’t have a conversation with a book, Andrew Hunt and David Thomas will talk if you will listen–and listen you should.
The Pragmatic Programmer is a collection of ideas, observations, and recommendations for software developers. Throughout the book, they highlight these notions in a set of numbered tips, about 70 of them, which are collected on a single tear-out card situated in the back of the book. Just reading the tips, without reading the text of the book, might make these gems seem trite, empty, and obvious. But, they’re not!
Many of the tips actually build upon previous ones, like tip 4: “Don’t live with broken windows”, which urges programmers to fix problems and clean up messes, and tip 20: “Keep knowledge in plain text.” With some books like this you can skip around–but this one is better read from beginning to end.
There is plenty of ideas to consider, agree with, and, perhaps, disagree with, too. You can also feel a little passion. “Conventional wisdom says that once a project is in the coding phase, the work is mostly mechanical, transcribing the design into executable statements. We think that this attitude is the single biggest reason that many programs are ugly, inefficient, poorly structured, unmaintainable, and just plain wrong.” Hooray for authors who take a stand and then back it up with well reasoned arguments!
Reading this book isn’t a substitute for having that conversation with a colleague about the craft. But, The Pragmatic Programmer is worth listening to in the mean time. It is a good, solid, fun read.
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