Top critical review
The programmer’s equivalent to a self-help book
Reviewed in the United States on February 1, 2020
This is what I call a “peas and carrots” book. It’s not a bad book and it’s hard to argue with anything the authors advocate, but to me it’s a lot like a self-help book in that people will feel good while reading it (and thus rate it highly) but in the end a lot of people will not actually follow the material and unless you’re a newbie a whole lot of it will be pretty obvious. I know this because I’ve been working in the software industry for 20 years and this is hailed as a classic, yet people continue to make the same mistakes. This isn’t the book’s fault really, but I also feel like the book covers a lot without saying much at all. It’s similar to a self-help book for people who are feeling down, they might feel good reading it but does it really genuinely help you in the end? I suppose that depends on the person.
Don’t repeat yourself (DRY), always be learning, be mindful of how you name your variables, avoid code rot, don’t over-engineer, don’t make excuses when you mess up, write unit tests, use version control, avoid global variables, use properties or getter/setter methods, work well with others, refactor your code when needed, break down complex problems into smaller more digestible chunks, double-check emails before sending them, etc etc. These are the concepts this book talks about.
This is more a “why” book and less a “how” book. It does talk about the hows from a birds-eye perspective but it never really digs deep into any particular topic, rather it uses (well written) flowery language to say a lot without saying a whole lot. I really feel like this type of book, for the most part, could be distilled down into a couple pages of bullet points and not lose too much effect. It is well written though, so it’s kinda fun to read in a feel-good sense.
There are good nuggets of information in this book and some topics are covered a bit more in depth than others, but in the end I think you will feel good while reading it because it is easy to read and agree with it, especially for a book focused on programming, but I don’t think you’ll come out of it leveling up your skills, especially if you’re experienced. Despite people saying that this is a book for all levels, I feel like you’ll get more out of it if you’re a new developer. For experienced developers, as I mentioned, it will serve as a gentle reminder of what you should do, even if you don’t follow the advice given when you’re finished with the book.
One thing worth mentioning is that I purchased the Kindle version and it's done proper. There are no issues with blurry text or bad formatting like I see with many other technical books.