Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States on February 3, 2019
This book is filled with anecdotes, hypothetical conversations, but mostly filled with different ways to say "be responsible." Any scenarios he gives are either too fabricated to be believable (please never write dialogue again) or so focused on taking responsibility that he dodges actual tricky issues. A lot of statements he makes you know he doesn't believe but thinks the hyperbole is going to give you an "aha" moment. It won't. The biggest disaster is saying a professional programmer would crack open their checkbook and reimburse the company for any money lost due to a bug in their code. I defy you to find where he ever admits to doing that, ever. This is the man who brought the wrath of the Teamsters down on his company due to a bug. He may not have been professional then, but he's not saying how he'd do anything different, either.

He preaches the gospel of test driven development, but brushes off prohibitively long compile times as being the programmer's fault, admits that 10% of his own codebase isn't covered by his tests (though he tries to shift blame to someone else and believes the percentage, although not 100%, is better than 90. Take responsibility, dude), and often says "there are exceptions" without pointing out what the exceptions would be. Those are more important than spending 30 pages repeating yourself on the rules. Why is ~10% of that codebase not tested? What's an example of a "dogma getting in the way of productivity" the discerns the difference for someone that thinks coding a test for every trivial piece of code is, in fact, getting in the way?

On making commitments he has some good advice about saying no and giving realistic estimates on the time it will take to complete things. The author does not, however, give real advice on how to deal with a boss that will not accept "no" or a timeline that does not meet their expectations. How does the professional programmer deal with "you'll do this by tomorrow or you're fired" when she knows it will take 4 days? How does the professional programmer deal with a negative performance evaluation that says he is not productive enough, even though he met all the commitments he made, but not on a timetable the manager wanted to see?

There are no answers in this book, just preaching. And not good preaching, it's the kind where the preacher gives a firey sermon about adultery when you know he's sleeping with the choir director's wife. I was hoping for a software engineer's guide to soft skills in the workplace and how to approach team interactions more effectively. Instead I found out i'm not going to be a professional. But that's okay, neither is Bob.
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