On “The Productive Programmer” by Neal Ford

Posted by Michael Hunger on Jul 28, 2008 in code, development |

I’ve been reading Neal’s blog for a while. So I’ve been looking forward to the book. (I even accidentally ordered it twice – one was the pre-buy at amazon, which I forgot about).

I spend the last two days reading the book and found it quite helpful. There are a lot of concrete tips and examples for immediate use and daily improvement of your mechanic skills. Many of the experiences regarding the effective use of the tools at hand that he describes are well known to me. I can’t really understand how developers are not keen to improve their productivity.
Neal’s book is a good addition to the PragProgs masterpiece. It concentrates more on the mechanics and on some principles of productive software development. So the triad of values-principles-patterns got a son named mechanics.

What I missed in the book was:

  • a comprehensive list of the notes at the end.
  • Christopher Alexanders appearance as one of the philosophers.
  • the notion of cheat sheets/refcards
  • references to Martin Odersky’s Scala the scalable language
  • references to Kent Becks “Implementation Patterns” (especially in the SLAP section)

As being a developer myself I was a bit disappointed by the quality of the examples (the solutions not the starting points) and a bit by the correctness of the text (typos). I spotted several errors, some bad designs and some uninformed choices even on the first read of the book. I’ll post them to the errata page.

Neals suggestion of an online repository at productiveprogrammer.com of productive programmers tools, tips and mechanics is a great idea. I’d really like to join this effort.

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