The Productive Programmer Review

Best Practices Library

Review of the book "The Productive Programmer" by Neil Ford. It focuses on things that all programmers can do to improve their productivity

Date : 2009-05-11

The Book, “The Productive Programmer” focuses on things that all programmers can do to improve their productivity. It's really an “All Programmers are created equal” kind of approach to programming, which is nice. Nobody likes to be told that someone else is a faster or better programmer simply because of who they are.

We all have basically the same set of tools available to us, this book focuses on ways that we can improve our use of those tools to improve overall productivity. I think everyone will find some things that they already knew, but also some things they didn't and that's where this book is worth a read. Within the first chapter Neil Ford describes what he calls the Principles of Programmer Productivity, 4 steps that categorize the methods for improving over all performance throughout the book.

This is a solid book that will teach everyone a few new ways to speed things up. My favorite section was on achieving a state of what Ford describes as “super-productivity” using tools and environmental factors. It discusses how to reduce the clutter in your environment, both physical and virtual and how to avoid distractions. Working from my home office as I have for nearly 10 years now I'm no stranger to interruptions, distractions, and clutter.

I also appreciated the assertion that typing is faster than navigation. It reminded me of a horrible old version of a word processor that I used in school. Everything you wanted to do was not just 1 but sometimes several cryptic key presses away. The amazing thing about it is that some of those key strokes are built into everything now. For instance ctrl-c (for copy, makes perfect sense), but what about ctrl-v for paste? Makes no sense in English but everyone uses it. I can't even imagine using the Edit menu to do copy and paste. Those keystrokes no doubt save hours in a week. Other points within this book can be just as effective in speeding your development process.

Definitely a must-read for all programmers. I think some sections can be skimmed but the overall benefit of reading this book will improve your productivity while programming enough to validate reading it at work.

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