The Productive Programmer
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Final Release Date: July 2008
Pages: 226

Anyone who develops software for a living needs a proven way to produce it better, faster, and cheaper. The Productive Programmer offers critical timesaving and productivity tools that you can adopt right away, no matter what platform you use. Master developer Neal Ford not only offers advice on the mechanics of productivity-how to work smarter, spurn interruptions, get the most out your computer, and avoid repetition-he also details valuable practices that will help you elude common traps, improve your code, and become more valuable to your team. You'll learn to:

  • Write the test before you write the code
  • Manage the lifecycle of your objects fastidiously
  • Build only what you need now, not what you might need later
  • Apply ancient philosophies to software development
  • Question authority, rather than blindly adhere to standards
  • Make hard things easier and impossible things possible through meta-programming
  • Be sure all code within a method is at the same level of abstraction
  • Pick the right editor and assemble the best tools for the job

This isn't theory, but the fruits of Ford's real-world experience as an Application Architect at the global IT consultancy ThoughtWorks. Whether you're a beginner or a pro with years of experience, you'll improve your work and your career with the simple and straightforward principles in The Productive Programmer.

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oreillyThe Productive Programmer
 
4.1

(based on 9 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (3)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (5)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (0)

86%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Easy to understand (5)
  • Helpful examples (4)
  • Well-written (4)
  • Accurate (3)
  • Concise (3)

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Intermediate (5)
      • Reviewer Profile:
      • Developer (6)

    Reviewed by 9 customers

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    2.0

    Dated hints, lack of flow techniques

    By Just Troy

    from Idaho

    About Me Developer

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

      Cons

      • Not comprehensive enough
      • Too basic
      • Too many errors

      Best Uses

      • Student

      Comments about oreilly The Productive Programmer:

      This was a very quick read. It is targeted towards java development, with some ideas which can be applied to any language. Some of the links recommending tools and frameworks no longer exist, and some of the tools are dated.

      You know that person who seems to integrate seamlessly with her/his computer? Talk to them instead. Better yet do paired programming with them, and have them drive stopping them to ask questions about shortcuts, macros. Even the average engineer should know most of the stuff in this book (such as even if you're only going to do it once, write a script to do it for you).

      It also lacked the content implied by the title, for getting into the right frame of mind for software development.

      Although I wouldn't rate this one star, I wouldn't recommend purchase. If you must read it, get it from a library and take notes.

       
      4.0

      Good day to day reference

      By Fer

      from BOG-COL

      About Me Developer

      Verified Reviewer

      Pros

      • Concise
      • Easy to understand
      • Helpful examples
      • Well-written

      Cons

      • Need To Be Updated

      Best Uses

      • Intermediate
      • Novice
      • Student

      Comments about oreilly The Productive Programmer:

      I liked the suggestions in the book, that are set in context, then there is non only a recipe but also the context when it is used.

      (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

       
      4.0

      Do more with less!

      By sandyboy44

      from St. Louis, MO

      About Me Developer

      Verified Reviewer

      Pros

      • Easy to understand
      • Helpful examples

      Cons

      • Too many errors

      Best Uses

      • Expert
      • Intermediate

      Comments about oreilly The Productive Programmer:

      Today the pressure is always there to "do more with less". IT departments have shrunk to half their size and those left behind are left to pick up the work left behind as well as manage their own. This book has arrived at the right time. I have personally found this book to lower my stress and also make me appear cool at the office whenever I shared a trick or tip. I give full credit to the author when I am asked how I learned so many tricks.

      The book is divided into two parts - Mechanics and Practice. The first part talks about the various productivity tools for different platforms. It is very thoughtful of the author to cover all major Operating Systems. The second part talks largely about high-level approaches to productivity.

      Neal's hand-on approach to ditching the mouse and getting the control back to the keyboard emphasizes on being street-smart with your machine. The best thing I liked about this book is the variety of tools explained for various situations, including acceleration, automation of repititive tasks, using virtual desktops, avoiding distractions, writing Ruby scripts to enhance productivity, etc. I would definitely keep a copy of this book close to me and periodically refer to it. I look forward to Neal's suggestion of having an online repository for tools, tips, and mechanics for creating more productive programmers. Some of the tips won't sweep you off your feet but most of the tips were a delight to read and start using right away.

      (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

       
      4.0

      Very Practical Guide for Programmers

      By Johnny Hopkins

      from Spindale, NC

      About Me Developer

      Verified Reviewer

      Pros

      • Accurate
      • Concise
      • Easy to understand
      • Helpful examples
      • Well-written

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Intermediate

        Comments about oreilly The Productive Programmer:

        Summary: The Productive Programmer has tips to make programmers efficient and effective. It includes tips for common tasks such as launching applications using shortcuts, finding the right text editor for coding purposes, finding quiet time for tasks, and other tips and suggestions.

        Review: As a fan of the book The Pragmatic Programmer, I was looking forward to reading The Productive Programmer. The book is packed with tips to make the life of a software engineer easier. I read through the book several times and picked up some useful tips. One tip I was unaware of was the ability to set-up a launcher in Windows Vista to launch the applications I use on a daily basis
        quickly and easily. Another tip was using Groovy to program applications with less code and more efficiency. My only complaint about the book is that he seems to be against IDEs for coding, but I understand his philosophy behind his views. When I started coding C, I only used a text editor in a Solaris 9 environment provided by my university. Other than that one downside, I think it is a great book for programmers to have on their shelves.

        (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

         
        4.0

        Practical and Useful

        By sboisen

        from Bellingham, WA

        Verified Reviewer

        Comments about oreilly The Productive Programmer:

        This is a great grab-bag of detailed tips ("Mechanics") and general approaches/philosophies ("Practice") for helping serious programmers be more productive (this isn't a book for the average user). Most programmers know that the difference between an okay developer and a great one isn't fractional, it's an order of magnitude or more. The ideas here are part of that body of knowledge that makes for great programmers.

        Many readers will find sections where they say "yeah, I know this stuff": if so, pat yourself on the back as a seasoned developer. But more likely you'll find at least a few tips worth trying, or be reminded of something you never took the time to try out (but should have: how did I miss multiple desktops for Windows?). Those little gems are worth the price of this book, and you can easily skip the rest. The key to books like this is to set aside a little time each day for improving your craft.

        Along the way, Ford's notes supply zen-like snippets of programmer wisdom:

        "Search is faster than navigation"
        "Don't spend time doing by hand what you can automate".
        and dozens of others. You'll even learn a little history about Aristotle, Occam, and other subjects. Definitely recommended (if taken as directed).

        [Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book as part of the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program. But i would have read it anyway. ]

        (8 of 9 customers found this review helpful)

         
        5.0

        Will improve your way of thinking

        By Edmonton Linux User Group

        from Edmonton, AB

        About Me Developer, Sys Admin

        Verified Reviewer

        Pros

        • Accurate
        • Easy to understand
        • Well-written

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • Intermediate

          Comments about oreilly The Productive Programmer:

          This book is intended for code writers: developers and programmers. The purpose is to give you some specific and general ideas on how to make your time more productive.

          The editing was good - I didn't notice any obvious errors, as I do with most books.

          What I did is read from cover to cover, and as I went, I started implementing things that I could (that I wasn't already doing). I've definitely experienced an improvement in productivity, so I recommend this book on that basis alone.

          I thought the most amusing line in the book was: "General standardization across development teams and development communities is a good thing. It allows people to read each other's code more easily, understand idioms more readily, and avoid wildly idiomatic coding (except perhaps in the Perl community)." This was definitely tongue in cheek. The quality of Perl code, like Forth code, is completely dependent on the skills of the programmer, as opposed to the constraints of the language.

          There are some interesting anecdotes to illustrate many of the ideas. All good stuff.

          But I will note that a lot didn't apply to me (which is okay - it could be useful to you), because I didn't program in an environment where something was an issue, for example.

          A final note: The book doesn't stop at the last page. There is also a website where readers can contribute their own ideas for programmer productivity. That will be my next stop.

          With this book, you should be able to improve your way of thinking. Recommended.

          (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

           
          5.0

          Take your development to the next level

          By White Owl Logistix

          from Eugene, OR

          About Me Developer

          Verified Reviewer

          Pros

          • Accurate
          • Concise
          • Easy to understand
          • Helpful examples
          • Well-written

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • Expert
            • Intermediate

            Comments about oreilly The Productive Programmer:

            I was stunned at the size of this book when it arrived, being very used to the "doorstop" thickness of most technology books. This book was sharp, and to the point. Neal has made quite an impression on me, showing me a perspective to programming that I hadn't quite seen before. Not only does Neal cover time saving technologies on all platforms (Windows, Mac,Linux/Unix) but he also shows how to leverage one technology to be useful beyond its intention. Such an example is using rake for common tasks(p.57), allowing full use of the power of Ruby, but with an almost painless interaction with the computers sub-systems via rakes tools.

            Ultimately I would like to express that I found every section and every chapter in this book useful. It broadened my knowledge in corners of computing that I needed, allowing me to travel more-seamlessly through the technical universe.

            To quote one of my favorite paragraphs, as it describes the focus of this book well,
            "Computers exist to perform simple, repetitive tasks: put them to work! Notice the repetitive stuff you do on a daily or weekly basis, and ask yourself, can I automate this ? Doing so increases the amount of time you can spend working on useful problems, instead of solving the same problems over and over...".

            I found his wit and writing style enjoyable, and I recommend this book to any programmer wanting to better his development process. For me, this book sits on my desk, as I am always pulling little bits of time saving know-how out of it.

            (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

             
            4.0

            Review of The Productive Programmer

            By Paul de Raaij

            from Undisclosed

            Comments about oreilly The Productive Programmer:

            A great book for the developer who realizes that he can work much faster and better with some neat and handy tricks.

            Neal Ford shows in The Productive Programmer not only some tricks and programs how to work much faster, but gives you the right directions how to notice where you can make your optimalizations to speed up things and thus working much more productively.

            Neal shows the reader that programmers easily forget where computers are for. Executing actions over and over again. Is isn't the computer that does those repetitive actions, but the developer himself.

            Therefore it's a great book for the GUI developers among us who want to speed up things and aren't afraid of the command-line.

            The way Neal writes this book is a very attractive with a lot of anecdotes and a direct way of talking to the reader.

            A book worth it's money.

            (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

             
            5.0

            The Productive Programmer rocks!

            By Burk Hufnagel

            from Undisclosed

            Comments about oreilly The Productive Programmer:

            Disclaimer: As a book reviewer for the Atlanta Java User's Group, I received a free copy of this book. The truth is that I'd been waiting to buy a copy since Neal mentioned he was working on it at a developer's conference last year. I just got lucky snagging a review copy.

            The Productive Programmer is a book for those of us who willingly spend our lives creating software. We know that some of our skills and knowledge are constantly becoming irrelevant so we strive to keep learning new things, and new ways of doing things, in the hope that we'll stay ahead of (or at least not fall too far behind) the curve. This book won't help with those skills; at least not directly. But it will help you build the kind of foundational skills and ways of thinking that make it easier to learn about the new and flashy things because you're not wasting time in other areas. The Productive Programmer is about maximizing your ability to efficiently create good, working software. It's about leveraging your computer's abilities, and learning how to master the tools you use regularly. If you love being a developer and creating software then you owe it to yourself to read this book and start becoming better at it today. The information Neal shares in this book is worth twice the price to anyone who creates software for a living. The conversational tone makes it easy to read the whole thing quickly, but the information density will have you referring back to it time and again looking for a tool, or tip, that applies to what you're currently working on. The only complaint I have is pretty mild. A tear-out card with the keyboard short-cuts would probably help people learn to use them faster. Sure, we could make our own (and I am) but it does seem a little inefficient to make us comb through the book to find them all.

            *grin*

            Thanks, Neal. It was well worth the wait. This book rocks!

            Burk Hufnagel

            Lead Software Architect

            SCJP, SCJD, SCEA 5

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