Author: Michael Lopp
Aimed at: Developers contemplating becoming managers
Pros: An entertaining insight into the software manager's perspective
Cons: Not straightforward career advice
Reviewed by: Sue Gee
If you expect this book to tell you something about being a software developer and how to negotiate career hurdles you may be disappointed.
I selected this book on the basis of its subtitle
"The Software Developer's Career Handbook"
and started out with the expectation that it would tell me something about being a software developer and how to negotiate career hurdles.
Having read the first few chapters I felt mystified and a little let down. The preface had altered me to the fact that author Michael Lopp harbors a preference for "nerd" as as label but is happy to use Geek, his editor's choice, as an equivalent and that the book itself stemmed from the Rands in Repose weblog, some of which goes back a decade.
Given the subtitle, and possibly my preconceptions that geeks are young and junior, I was disconcerted to find that topics such as crafting a resumée and making formal applications for a job just didn''t figure - in fact the word "job" hardly occurs as Lopp uses "gig" which carries with it a set of overtones.
So I employed a new strategy to try to understand the book and turned to the in the final part, "Your Next Gig". Here in chapters "A Deliberate Career" and "The Curse of Silicon Valley" I started to understand the author's motivation and to appreciate his main topic - how as a software developer to move into a management role and how to cope with issues you will inevitably face.
For me these chapters served as a key that made sense of the entire volume and I thereafter I enjoyed dipping into the books' forty short chapters.
The chapter headings tend to be cryptic - The Button, The Leaper, Werewolves, The Trickle List - but all is revealed as you start to read them and they contain many nuggets of good advice and plenty of entertaining insights into the workings of the various companies for which Lopp has worked - including Apple, Netscape and Symantec.
The viewpoint is that of a manager and will be appreciated by others who are contemplating swapping day-to-day coding for a management role. His experience points up why a career in the software industry is unlike working in any other environment and he explains it in an entertaining way.