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The Effective Engineer: How to Leverage Your Efforts In Software Engineering to Make a Disproportionate and Meaningful Impact Paperback – March 19, 2015
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"I'd always thought that good engineers were born of long, hard experience, so I didn't think a book could teach me how to be more effective. But in fact, Edmond managed to distill his decade of engineering experience into crystal-clear best practices. There is a world of difference between a great engineering team and good engineering team, and this book will help you bridge that gap."
"The Effective Engineer is a comprehensive tour of our industry's collective wisdom written with clarity. Almost every engineer starting at Asana makes at least one substantial mistake that might have been avoided if they internalized what's written in this book. I'm recommending it to the whole Asana engineering org."
About the Author
For the past decade, Edmond Lau has worked as a software engineer in some of the top technology companies in Silicon Valley, including Google, Ooyala, Quora, and Quip. He's passionate about building great engineering teams, and he's interviewed over 500+ engineering candidates throughout his career as well as spoken to teams across the country on how to build great engineering cultures. At Quora, he built out the onboarding and mentoring programs used to train dozens of new engineering hires. His engineering and career advice has been featured on Forbes, Time, Slate, Inc., and Fortune. He's also guest lectured at both MIT and Stanford on software design. He holds a Bachelor's and Master's in Computer Science from MIT.
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Well, as my 1-star rating indicates, I am beyond being disappointed.
This books might be impressive for software engineers with no to little industry experience, but for solid engineers there is very little to learn from it. It is more of a memoir of the author than a practical collection of tools.
Again, the content is not well organized and is largely autobiographical - it follows author's very average career by Silicon Valley's standards. Why does the author deserve an autobiography? What did he built that made a huge impact on the world?
I should have passed on purchase as soon as I read Table of Contents. It consists of very idiosyncratic chapters like "Optimize for learning" and "Prioritize regularly". I mean, really? You need a whole chapter to remind that learning is crucial for good career in software engineering?
The only good thing from this book is a list of recommended reading, but I guess you can just find this on any decent website dedicated to software engineering.
Verdict: don't waste your money and time, pick up a copy of classic book like "Pragmatic programmer" instead.
Specifically: it's all about how to cut down on time spent ineffectively, or less effectively. It's all about "pick the highest-leverage, highest-power use of your time and do that. Re-evaluate often."
The methods of doing that are many: automation, measurement, reducing iteration time, learning your tools. The book goes into great specifics for each of them. The earlier in your career you are, the more this will teach you. And the more time you spend on reading standard programmer fare (algorithms, languages, tools), the more likely you've missed many of these not-exactly-programming techniques to get the most from your time.
Though if you read enough automation, productivity techniques and Lean Startup, much of this will be standard for you. But he does a great job of getting into the software-engineering-specific methods for this, and applying the best practices from the best companies in our industry for this.
Why not 5 stars? I'm an old engineer. There was only a little *new* here for me in the book itself because I've done a *lot* of previous reading on these topics and even worked at one of the same companies as Edmond. The online "Pro" package on his web site definitely rates 5 stars. It's got hours of interviews with guys who run engineering departments and don't write books or blog posts. But the book by itself is only 4.