The Passionate Programmer

The Passionate Programmer Book Review
Creating a Remarkable Career in Software Development, by Chad Fowler – Published 2009
Revised and updated second edition of “My Job Went to India: 52 Ways To Save Your Job”

The Passionate Programmer book cover

This is a great book along the same lines as The Pragmatic Programmer, by Chad Folwer (no relation to Martin Fowler). The book takes us through 53 ways of looking at ourselves and how we relate to the profession of programming.  I found the ‘Act On It!’ section at the end of each mini-chapter inspiring.  The book challenged some of my thoughts and was like a pat on the back for the things I am doing right. Any skill level programmer, developer, architect, manager can benefit from this book.

Managers and entrepreneurs in particular may learn important insights into what makes programmers tick, how to hire good ones, and how to lead a team to success.

This book does not contain a lot of code. In fact, it isn’t about code, its about life. It is also about how to get more in touch with the business side of technology. I find being in touch with the business a good thing to make a habit.

Some ideas from the book:

  • Sunset technology (like Cobol, or the next Cobol) can be profitable, if you know how to convert away from it onto modern platforms.
  • The book advocates being the worst member of a band in order to learn from the other performers. This translates into seeking out experienced friends, or an experienced team to work with. Such ‘jam sessions’ lead to rapid XP gains.
  • Don’t put all your eggs into one basket – investing narrowly in a technology, particularly one made by a corporation, is not a good bet.
  • Practice coding like practicing an instrument.
  • Good programmers have lots of unfinished projects in their home folder.  I like it! Now I value cleanliness of my home folder a little less, which is okay.
  • Have a mentor and be a mentor.
  • Codebase – make it at least a little better everyday. Don’t make it worse.
  • Watch the alpha geeks.
  • Beware of being blinded by your own success.
  • Invest in both low risk technologies (java – the family station wagon), and high risk exotic languages (python – the sleek sexy import).
  • Too often fear drives choices in a career – what would it be like if fear was not a factor?
  • During lunch breaks or space out time, google tips on ‘language x’ instead of surfing useless news and joke sites.
  • Keep a journal on excitement level about work.
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