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|Print List Price:||£23.99|
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Programming Beyond Practices: Be More Than Just a Code Monkey 1st , Kindle Edition
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|Length: 133 pages||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled||Page Flip: Enabled|
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When Eric Evan's Domain Driven Design was first released, I liked it for a very different reason than most reviewers. In addition to all of the good patterns and advice, Eric told a wonderful story about the thought process of finding abstractions. If I remember it correctly, it was a section called 'Story of a Breakthrough.' You can't give people an algorithm to find abstractions, and heuristics are often superficial. The story outlined exactly what the process was like in reality. Gregory's book is filled with those sorts of stories, and that makes it a great introduction to world of decision making in development.
If you are an expert, you may find things in this book that you don't know, but if you have only a few years of development experience, you find many avenues for exploration, and more than that, a sense of how a very experienced developer sees the world an approaches decision making. Those are pieces of an ethic that can carry you forward your entire career.
This book reminds me of those initiative hardened, observant, empathetic, skilled, and curious mentors and leaders. Programming Beyond Practices isn't a bang you over the head with "the way" type book. It is a quick read, spanning eight chapters roughly mirroring a software developer's career arc. There's scant jargon, dogma, and evangelizing. Everyone and their brother/sister waxes on about craft and devops. Not Brown. He uses basic stories and narratives to guide the reader. There are timeless lessons here -- avoid non-essential real-time data synchronization, remember that external services might change or die, work part of the problem by hand before writing code, etc. -- but the beauty is in the stories and examples. As the chapters progress, we start getting into some meatier topics (including an almost PTSD inducing overcommitted dysfunctional team), but the pacing and delivery never shifts.
Programming Beyond Practices covers topics that I have seen come up over and over in commercial software product development. It might seem "basic" to someone steeped in theory, the science, etc. but this is the real world stuff teams stumble on every day. 5 stars. Quick read, valuable, and humble.
Brown uses an unconventional format for the book -- chapters are mostly in the form of a narrative in which you (the reader) are the main character in a brief drama involving the development problem that he's covering. One nice thing about his approach is that by making it a narrative, it becomes natural to have the characters discuss the various tradeoffs that need to be balanced as a problem is explored and a design evolves out of that exploration as their understanding grows.
Too many software books are like the cooking segments on early morning talk shows -- the chef comes in, points at some bowls of ingredients before dumping them into a pan while the host jokes around, and then, through the magic of television, they reach under the counter and pull out an already cooked and perfectly presented finished dish. With both cooking and developing software, the interesting (and hard!) part is that stuff in the middle where you're at least a little confused, things aren't going the way you expect them to, and you need a way to get to the desired end state, whether that's because of good intuition, experience, or having learned from a good guide.
This is definitely a book that I'd recommend, especially to some of the young developers I've met coming out of computer science programs that have trained them in chapter and verse of whatever language they've used for instruction, and given a description of an algorithm can maybe implement it cleverly, but when presented with a real problem affecting users aren't sure how to dig in and make something that works.
I'll probably read it again right away (but more slowly), and will probably pull it off the shelf for a refresher every year or two.
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