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The Productive Programmer (Theory in Practice (O'Reilly)) Paperback – July 10, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Neal Ford is an Application Architect at ThoughtWorks, a global IT consultancy with an exclusive focus on end-to-end software development and delivery. Before joining ThoughtWorks, Neal was the Chief Technology Officer at The DSW Group, Ltd., a nationally recognized training and development firm. Neal has a degree in Computer Science from Georgia State University specializing in languages and compilers and a minor in mathematics specializing in statistical analysis. He is also the designer and developer of applications, instructional materials, magazine articles, video presentations, and author of the books Developing with Delphi: Object-Oriented Techniques (Prentice-Hall, 1996), JBuilder 3 Unleashed (Sams, 1999) (as the lead author), Art of Java Web Development (Manning, 2003), and No Fluff, Just Stuff Anthology: The 2006 Edition (editor and contributor). His language proficiencies include Java, C#/.NET, Ruby, Object Pascal, C++, and C. His primary consulting focus is the design and construction of large-scale enterprise applications. Neal has taught on-site classes nationally and internationally to all phases of the military and to many Fortune 500 companies. He is also an internationally acclaimed speaker, having spoken at numerous developer conferences worldwide.


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Product Details

  • Series: Theory in Practice (O'Reilly)
  • Paperback: 226 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (July 13, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596519788
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596519780
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #323,616 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Neal is also an avid (but slow) Ironman triathlete, competing in several races a year of varying distance. He is also a voracious reader, loves to listen to very eclectic music, watch high-quality movies, travel to exotic locales, and eat at fine restaurants (sometimes enjoying combinations of the above). He has also been known to sit in front of a computer for vast amounts of time. When at home, Neal enjoys the company of his wife, Candy, and two cats, Winston and Parker.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By James Holmes on September 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a terrific book for boosting your productivity in two areas: how you work, and how you code.

The first section of the book, Mechanics, focuses on tools you can use to boost your productivity as you're working with your system. Ford launches off into an exploration of lots of little crazy tools that help you automate or ease repetitive tasks. You'll find lots of goodies from virtual desktops to shortcut tips/launchers, to using Ruby to script everything from splitting up SQL to automatically sorting your laundry and washing it for you.[1]

All these little tools and tricks add up to drastic decreases in the amount of friction you're forced to suffer through while doing your daily job. Cutting this friction lets you focus on the job at hand, instead of trying to bend your environment to your will.

The second section of the book, Practice, discusses ways to speed your development. There's an awful lot of goodness in this portion of the book, ranging from re-emphasizing critical aspects of object oriented programming, to object and method composition. Ford walks through a lot of great stories meant to get you to re-evaluate why you do things a certain way. The infamous Angry Monkeys story gets pulled out as an example, and Ford also concisely covers development principles like the Law of Demeter, Occam's Razon, and his Polyglot Programming meme.

The book's concise, amazingly well written, and a definite must-have for your bookshelf.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Michael Hunger on July 27, 2008
Format: Paperback
I've been reading Neal's blog for a while. So I've been looking forward to the book. (I even accidentally ordered it twice - one was the pre-buy at amazon, which I forgot about).

I spend the last two days reading the book and found it quite helpful. There are a lot of concrete tips and examples for immediate use and daily improvement of your mechanic skills. Many of the experiences regarding the effective use of the tools at hand that he describes are well known to me. I can't really understand how developers are not keen to improve their productivity.
Neal's book is a good addition to the PragProgs masterpiece. It concentrates more on the mechanics and on some principles of productive software development. So the triad of values-principles-patterns got a son named mechanics.

What I missed in the book was:
* a comprehensive list of the notes at the end.
* Christopher Alexanders appearance as one of the philosophers.
* the notion of cheat sheets/refcards
* references to Martin Odersky's Scala the scalable language
* references to Kent Becks "Implementation Patterns" (especially in the SLAP section)

As being a developer myself I was a bit disappointed by the quality of the examples (the solutions not the starting points) and a bit by the correctness of the text (typos). I spotted several errors, some bad designs and some uninformed choices even on the first read of the book. I'll post them to the errata page.

Neals suggestion of an online repository of productive programmers tools, tips and mechanics is a great idea. I'd really like to join this effort.


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Randall Degges on May 15, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I recently finished reading through this book, and though I'd leave a review here while the content is still fresh in my mind. Unlike a lot of the other reviewers, I was not impressed by this book (although I really wanted to be).

While I don't like giving negative reviews, I figured it would be useful to other potential readers to give a no-fluff review of the book -- here we go:

This book is a decent book for new programmers. If you're fresh out of college, and have never before done any sort of real programming work, you'd likely find this book a quick and review-ish read. Most of the content of this book is extremely obvious stuff, I could summarize most of the book by stating the following points:

- Optimize your computer to get work done (use hotkeys, learn your editor well).
- Automate boring stuff that wastes times (running Excel reports, etc.).
- Focus on what you're working on and try to maintain flow.

The above three points are discussed and primarily talked about in the first 1/2 of the book. The rest of the book is dedicated to well known programming principles which I won't get into here -- suffice to say, if you're a programmer, you've likely already heard of and used them.

For any experienced developer, this book feels... Like a recipe. It comes off (to me) as being a well planned book with good intentions, but that (unfortunately) ends up covering a seemingly small array of things and only lightly touching on each subject. While other great books like The Pragmatic Programmer spend a lot of time covering productivity principles in great detail, this book seems to skimp on the content and focus on brevity in less less interesting topics.

While I really wanted to love this book (I'm a junkie when it comes to programming productivity stuff), I simply can't recommend this book to anyone but new developers looking for a quick read.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Markus Oehler on January 10, 2009
Format: Paperback
I saw Neal the first time at DLW Europe. I'd like to check out the speakers online before deciding which talks to attend - the results were not positive at all; IT consultant (we've had our share at work) + spending lots of time speaking on conferences, that's a combination not likely to give me warm feelings. I still ended up in attending his talk because of lack of alternatives and thank god I did. Neal isn't only a great speaker but he also had something to say and the necessary experience and war stories to back it up. I ended up by attending every presentation of Neal plus - back at work - giving a presentation of his talks to my fellow co-workers.

Finding out that he now has written a book - I instantly had to read it. And the book is certainly a valuable read that I'll keep around as reference at least for a while. There's lots of great tips about tools, automation, ... that will certainly find their way into my professional life. However, it did not blow me off my feet. I've read "Pragmatic Programmer - From Journeyman to Master" before (a perfect book in my opinion) and this book does not quite measure up to it. The style is not as perfect - the information not as well-presented. However what I miss most is that Neal sometimes present a topic but then does not follow up with "How to get started" - most notably with "Polyglot Programming" and "Test driven design". I know that both topics are maybe out of scope of the book but then at least a reference to another book, website, ... would have been great. So even if I'm all psyched to up try to apply this principles now at my current projects, I know from past experience that adding new languages in any mix more often result in time wasted time because of integration issues...
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