book review life hack

Book Review: The Productive Programmer

An intersting book The Productive Programmer by Neal Ford has some great tips for the everyday and really brings out interesting concepts about the daily tasks of programming, as well as some good advice such as “Don’t Shave Yaks”(where you can delve so far into a problem you end up solving everything but the problem) and YAGNI (You Ain’t Gonna Need It).

The book focuses on useful tips, but really emphasizes reflecting on the kinds of stuff you do. If you begin to see ways of doing something better, you will look for it all around you. Things like, if you always have to navigate to the same directory over and over again, create a shortcut. If you open up the same files every morning, use an accelerator or automate that to do it for you. If you have to send the same email report every week, automate that too.

Probably my favorite idea from the book is “search trumps navigation”. Anytime you have to find something, you waste both brain power and time when you have to look through folders or files to find the one you need. Instead, use tools to find what you need. For my Visual Studio friends, I always use “>of myFileName” in the search bar to get the name of the file (this quickly became the most popular way of searching to those I introduced it to at Ganz :P). This is a lot faster than having to search for that class or file through thousands of files. For those on Windows that really miss out on grep (Ford mentions cygwin) but I recommend giving Astrogrep a try .It is free open source, allows regular expressions and displays the contents of the file (you will never go back to Windows Explorer for searching again).

Ford also focuses on aspects of eliminating distractions: turning off popup messages, using rooted views for a directory, and automating everything that usefully can be (interaction with websites, spreadsheets, rss feeds, build machines etc.). The later chapters focus on more code examples such as test driven development, source code analysis, as well as some philosophy and psychology applied to coding.

All and all a good book especially for the ideas it will bring about of how to improve your own productivity.

Best of luck,
Michael Hubbard

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