Chad Fowler is an internationally known software developer, trainer, manager, speaker, and musician. Over the past decade he has worked with some of the world's largest companies and most admired software developers.
Chad is VP of Engineering at LivingSocial. He is co-organizer of RubyConf and RailsConf and author or co-author of a number of popular software books, including The Passionate Programmer: Creating a Remarkable Career in Software Development.
I've written this review 3 times from scratch. Why? Because I was upset that my writing was not eloquent enough to accurately relay how important and useful this book truly is.
If you're considering buying this book, do it now. You can thank me later.
This book teaches you to (among other things):
1. Increase your programming skill and potential by changing your attitude and work habits. 2. Maximize your time and money by treating your programming time like a business. 3. Keep your passion for programming alive, and growing. 4. Advance your career either at your job, or on your own. 5. Manage and run your own company successfully and efficiently.
The author discusses almost every aspect of professional development, and explains what practices are good, what practices are bad, and how you can improve yourself and your skill set in each area.
As both a hobbyist programmer and professional programmer, I felt a strong connection to the author (Chad Fowler). The recurring theme present throughout the book is a sense of self-education and striving to learn everything, which I think many programmers are drawn to. I know that I have an internal drive to continuously improve, learn, and grow--and it is this same drive that Fowler will instill in you while reading through this book.
The book is extremely hard to put down, and I had to force myself to put it down several times (I read through the entire thing in 3 days or so) so that I could reflect on the content of the book and really absorb all of the information and theory behind what Fowler writes.
All in all, this book is a MUST READ for any programmer or entrepreneur who programs either for fun, or professionally. It is filled with excellent advice, and is truly a pleasure to read.
There is no doubt in my mind that I will be reading this book multiple times.
This book is geared mainly for programmers. But if you are in any field where you work mainly creating things in your head and then placing them in some media (music, programming, design), the principles in this book apply to you. There is no code in this book so it's not strictly a technical book, but a fair amount of the examples only have full impact if you understand at least a little bit of software development.
Over my career as a developer and tech lead, I've found that the most enjoyable and productive people I've worked with follow the principles outlined in this book. Because I thoroughly enjoy what I do, I try to hire like-minded people at our company, and I continuously look for traits like these on people beyond the ability to code in the specific technologies we use.
From learning how to turn a "maintenance" project into an enjoyable one, to being the worst in a great team instead of the best in a mediocre team, to completely automating everything you do so you're cheaper than several outsourced developers and actually learning the business you're developing for so you can "read minds" and are able to improve your business bottom line with your understanding of the problem domain, this book teaches you to become better at what you do in your technical career and to thoroughly enjoy doing it.
Whether you are at the beginning of your career or you feel like "going into management" because you have lost your passion for the craft of development, this book will jolt you back into doing the best work for the software community and improving the world with automation, and "being awesome".
I had to buy this book after reading all of the glowing reviews. It is definitely not a five-star book.
After reading it my impression is that this book is aimed at people who went into programming for reasons other than love, people who are struggling to stay interested and afloat in the industry. Anyone who is truly passionate about programming will have already discovered and acted on the best advice from the book while ignoring the rest.
There is some solid advice here. But it's generally very obvious and generic like "try to see where the industry is going and stay ahead of the curve" or "people will take you more seriously if you can write well".
There is also some bad, or at least impractical, advice. If you tried to follow all of the author's suggestions for "staying ahead of the curve" and "making yourself more marketable" it could easily eat up many hours per week that would probably better be spent on actual programming. Much of his advice also involves, for lack of a better term, sucking up to management.
This book may be useful for someone graduating from college with a computer science degree, but I can't see it being very valuable to anyone with a few years experience.
Just an FYI - the "Career" in the subtitle means "In a Business, as a worker." This is a business self-help book, more like David Allen's "Getting Things Done" or "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" than "The Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs" or "Godel, Escher, and Bach." And a business self-help book is a fine thing, but I'm afraid at least one consumer (me) was mislead by the title. One can be passionate about music, and care nothing for getting ahead in the recording industry; one can be passionate about mathematics and care nothing for getting articles published in academic journals; one can be a passionate programmer aside from selling programming.
This definitely doesn't make it a bad book; I'm still looking forward to finishing it at some point, because hey, I've got a job. But it's a business self-help book, about being a better worker. This is the second title the book has had (the first edition was titled "My Job Went to India: 52 Ways to Save Your Job, How to design, debug, and deploy your Pragmatic Career") the first title may have been more representative of the work itself. And I'm off to window-shop "The Art of Computer Programming."