52 Books a Year: #50 - The Productive Programmer

Posted by Brian Wed, 23 Dec 2009 18:48:32 GMT

The Productive Programmer
By Neal Ford


One of my biggest pet peeves is seeing programmers not learn how to use their tools. How you can use the same tools year-after-year and not even take the time to learn the hot keys for them strikes me as stupid. With this in mind (and with the recommendation of a co-worker) I read (his copy of) The Productive Programmer.

One of Ford’s points in The Productive Programmer is that computers excel at automating repetitive tasks, yet many programmers spend an absurd amount of time doing just that. Our skill set gives us the unique ability to use computers in a way drastically different than most people, yet many programmers never break the old habits they gained before becoming programmers. He also promotes the use of tools to enhance speed, such as an application launcher, and the use of macros and hot keys to speed up your use of applications you use everyday. He promotes the use of virtual desktops and multiple monitors to enhance focus.

This book inspired me to refine many things I was already doing. On Windows I am making more use of Launchy than ever for various tasks. On Linux I use Gnome-Do more than ever. I have four virtual desktops set up on Windows with Dexpot and four on Linux with the built-in functionality of Gnome. It reinforced several programming techniques I already follow, such as composed methods, and inspired me to look into using dynamic scripting languages more for everyday tasks.

With its heavy emphasis on Java and scripting languages the specific examples here won’t apply to every reader, but that isn’t what is important. The Productive Programmer reads more like a philosophy book, inspiring the reader to interact with their computer in a new, more productive way. A must read.


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