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on December 5, 2000
This is a decent but not spectacular book, which is written as a series of 46 five to ten page articles on various programming topics, such as "Orthogonality", "Design by Contract" and "The Requirements Pit". The segments are quite heavily cross-referenced (which I didn't find very useful).

The authors dole out a lot of solid advice, which is the book's strength. I found myself disagreeing with very little. There are memorable tips and some good stories. The writing style is also very accessible and conducive to diving in at any page.

The book seems a bit lightweight. The exercises are a little simple and I don't think you'll find yourself going back to this book a lot. Also, the typeface is annoyingly large.

I'd recommend this to someone who has done some programming and understands the syntax and fundamentals but hasn't gotten into programming larger pieces of software. I think that if you have programmed anything significant you won't find much new in here.
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on February 15, 2012
There is a great number of positive reviews for this book, and rightfully so, however there are some critics with a good deal of experience in programming that seem to have some majors problems with it. I believe it comes down to this: it is packed full of common sense and great tips but it's all advice that anyone that has had a few years of experience will probably have picked up already. I wish I had come upon this book as I was entering the job market, but most of it just made me nod in agreement. While I didn't get the epiphany other books managed to provide, even for an experienced programmer, it is good to be reminded of those sound advices and of why exactly we do the things we do the way we do them.

All the tips are covered superficially, but with enough depth that you understand the what and the why, and can still go to the next one quickly. Further chapters don't depend on previous ones, so you can jump in at any topic that interests you. As such, it makes a good a-tip-a-day read.

While the main advice it provides is simply "care about your craft", it is advice I wish more would follow and this book just might convince some and teach the beginners some of what that actually entails. In the end, the simplicity of this book is what makes it such an interesting read.

The font is indeed a bit too big to be comfortable on the eyes, but the chapters are short enough that you aren't forced to strain for hours. The layout of the chapters also seems a bit random.
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on June 29, 2000
This is a fantastic book, and highly recommended, if you are looking for reassurance or guidance in how to approach programming tasks with forethought. The authors touch on several methods to incorporate in the planning and design phase, as well as guidelines for daily use in how you choose the development environment or languages you should work in.
This is great stuff, accompanied by excellent examples from the author's experience and eloquently written (for a technical book), interspersed with wisdom and humor.
My only complaint is that the book is too high-level (but this is explained early on in the book). I found myself wanting to go more in depth in regards to specific languages or tools suggested in the book and the references they cited were not very helpful.
All in all this book is very good, and I see that some people have been using it as a group study guide - what an excellent idea! This book is great for teaching good general purpose programming habits, but not for in-depth study into a single method, tool or language. Nevertheless, you'll find yourself referencing the wisdom it holds again and again.
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on November 15, 2000
Good overview of many things that need doing whilst developing software. I don't agree with everything the authors said, but on the whole it was good information.
The authors come across as Unix-geeks who believe "command-line is King!". Yes, command-line utilities do have their place, but please, they're not the salvation of software development! Things are discussed from a high-level, so if you want to apply much of what has been discussed then you will need to look for more in-depth information elsewhere, but for junior programmers it is useful to point out what they should be looking for in the first place. For more experienced programmers, treat it as more of a refresher-course (assuming you did learn how to do things properly once upon a time).
An entertaining overview of software development - well, more entertaining than some software engineering textbooks I've read!
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on December 14, 2000
this book sat on my "to read" list for months and i finally picked it up based on the strength of reviews here on Amazon. what a disappointment!! the world really doesn't need another book extolling the virtues of thorough upfront design and intense testing without any specific (or even vague) plans for overcoming the traditional difficulties in realizing both those objectives. yeah yeah we know, if we dont design enough up front, we will pay in the long term anyway. enough, already. i was hoping for some creative and interesting ideas and was utterly disappointed. this book is no more than a crude compilation of half-baked ideas from any number of other similar books.
if you're looking for something interesting, "the mythical man month" is a lot better, even though its dated. "inmates are running the asylum" by alan cooper is also great in that it creatively and productively challenges many of the old saws that books like "pragmatic programmer" trot out time and time again (i particularly like Cooper's rant against letting customers dictate design decisions and product paths).
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on September 13, 2000
The reviews I read about this book are pretty accurate, except this book is too wordy. It could be 1/2 the size it is if the authors would have gotten to the point faster. A lot of explanations go on and on and I am left wondering when am I going to get to read what the point is?! Get to it!
The two authors are certainly qualified to author this book, judging by what their backgrounds are. For the most part, the chapters are interesting, informative, and thought provoking. Most of the ideas are not what the average, or above average programmer would think of.
Some of the ideas though are not worth the paper to print them on, and many of them are not explained well enough. Given the amount of words for explanations, this should not have been. Therefore, I can only give this book three stars. Overall I feel that the book is too drawn out and not to the point enough.
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on November 28, 1999
The Pragmatic Programmer is a mixed bag. It attempts to cover a large number of broad topics, ranging from object-oriented design to algorithm speed to testing strategies. As a result, each topic gets a fairly superficial treatment, only skimming the surface before moving onto something else.
My other reservation about the book is that the authors are "Unix geeks", and view the world accordingly. They touch on Windows mostly to urge readers to put a Unix shell on top of it; other platforms like Mac OS are mentioned not at all. Personally, I am tired of "real programmers use the command line", or "Emacs is God" posturing (despite the authors' earnest but flawed attempts to justify these), and felt it detracted from an otherwise useful book. Worse, the authors fail to discuss any tools related to building complex interactive applications, a significant omission from the stated goals and scope of the book.
Those complaints aside, the book does contain useful information and ideas, especially for new programmers who often don't have a strong grasp on the bigger picture of software development. The authors offer good insights on topics like design by contract, documentation, and refactoring, which new programmers often fail to appreciate.
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on April 2, 2006
The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master, is a must-read for everyone involved in the software industry. The tone of this book is casual and often humorous making it fun, enjoyable and easy to read.
As the title implies, this book is targeted towards the programmer (the construction phase of software engineering). The authors outline common sense principals and practices that every developer SHOULD be aware of (but in reality most of these practices are overlooked).
These principals are often obvious, but keep in mind that "the obvious [...] is never seen until someone expresses it simply." (Kahlil Gibran) The authors express good program principals, outline the collection of tools every practitioner should have, and offer priceless advice in a simple manner.
This book left me with many unanswered questions, the authors offered a lot of "How-Tos" and "What-Tos" with out answering the "Whys". Code Complete [Steve McConnell] answers most (if not all) of these questions and in doing so, is three times the size. The Pragmatic Programmer makes an excellent prerequisite to Code Complete. Both books should be read.
It's interesting to note that both authors (Andrew Hunt, David Thomas) are authors of the Agile Manifesto, and have a series of Pragmatic Programming books (Pragmatic AJAX, Agile Web Development With Rails, Programming Ruby, etc...).
Their other texts are equally humorous and easy to read.
The Pragmatic Programmer must simply be read and then re-read, I can attest "this book will help you become a better programmer" (Preface).
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on May 22, 2009
Many experienced programmers will have already learned many of the lessons in this book and will be frustrated by the lack of depth. I was hoping for more detail in many sections but as I have not really been programming professionally (after entering management) for a number of years there were a few tidbits, or reminders that encouraged me to go look elsewhere for more detail.

For a new programmer there is a lot in this book to offer. Communication is covered in the first chapter and this is certainly an area that many junior programmers/designers have when first starting out. Orthogonality, how to deliver an estimate, writing your own code generators, and so on are all concepts that many programmers, for whatever reasons, haven't been exposed to.

So, don't buy this if you are looking for more details (i.e, the proper way to write a good unit test)... you'll need to go elsewhere for that. But if you want a decent framework of good methodology, this is worth a look
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on December 13, 2003
If you actually like programming. If you don't think programming by horde is a good idea. Or if you aren't looking at it as a stepping one to management. Then you need to read this book. It will make you think about your profession in a whole new light, as a skill and a discipline. After the wave of horde programming J2EE nightmares has passed and there is still real work to be done by programmers it is people who look at programming as a life-long skill who will be left to build the interesting stuff. Get involved. Get on-board. Enjoy programming. Read this book.
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