Review: The Productive Programmer by Neal Ford

Posted: December 24, 2010 in Reviews

The Productive Programmer is Neal Ford’s attempt to share the techniques and tactics that will allow programmers to live up to their job title by efficiently getting the job done.

The book is split into two sections covering mechanical considerations and approaches to programming technique. Some of his advice focuses on the things that most of us probably feel that we should do but rarely actually invest ourselves into, such as focusing as much as possible on using key bindings to carry out tasks in order to avoid the use of the mouse. At other times he brings up things that we may very well not have thought of, such as reminding the reader to figure out which parts of the work they’re doing are absolutely essential and which can be eliminated.

As a person who’s taken a few classes on philosophy, I think that it would be difficult for me not to like any book which appeals to the wisdom of ancient philosophers in order to make an argument about how programming should be done. I do think that this book has a lot of great ideas to share. The main problem for me is that it’s not always clear how we should put these ideals into practice.  It would also have been nice to have more in the way of quick summary reminders of the overarching themes, and perhaps some guidance in the conclusion about where he would suggest focusing first. Still, this book certainly has the potential to improve programming productivity if it’s put to good use.

I received access to an electronic copy of this book from O’Reilly Media Inc. at no cost for the purpose of writing this review.  More information, including some errata and a full table of contents, is available from the O’Reilly catalog page for The Productive Programmer.

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