Author: Dave Hoover & Adewale Oshineye
Publisher: O'Reilly, 2009
Aimed at: Aspiring software craftsmen
Pros: Well presented and easy-to-read advice
Cons: Doesn't go beyond well rehearsed common sense
Reviewed by: Sue Gee
There's been a rash of careers advice books for programmers recently (see my reviews of The Passionate Programmer and Land the Tech Job You Love) but I am not entirely convinced tht such advice is needed.
The subtitle of this book is "Guidance for the Aspiring Software Craftsman" and early in the book the authors, who presumably see themselves as software craftsmen, distinguish between the career levels of apprentice - those starting out who are learning their trade; journeyman seen in this context as a team member who is expanding a portfolio of applications that demonstrate progress and may be a mentor to less experienced team members; and master who "view the acquisition, usage and sharing of superior skill as the most important part of being a software craftsmen" - there is a recognisable influence here. In fact the slim volume is peppered with apt quotations and they are culled from many sources - from Arab to Zen.
The idea of using patterns has long been recognised in software development - it boils down to identifying and giving a label to a commonly encountered problem so that you can employ a variation on an already defined and well rehearsed solution.
The book adopts this idea but rather than using it in the context of software development applies it to personal and career development and presents thirty five "behavioural patterns".Each pattern is presented in the same way. First comes the all-important title - which acts as a summary of the scenario. This is acompanied by a pithy quotation and sometimes an illustration. One or two sentences provide the Context followed by a short description of the Problem. The bulk of the text is devoted to each Solution - from half a page to two pages or more - and often this distils advice from a variety of people the authors have interviewed or whose work they have read. Then comes Action - what you can do to work towards a solution.
I liked the way in which the various patterns were linked together in the See Also note at the end of each one. The fold-out "road map" inside the back cover also shows conections between them.
So what patterns will you find in this book. Appendix A at the back of the book has an alphabetical lists of all them - title plus problem. Some are rather obvious: Confront Your Ignorance; Expand your Bandwidth, Unleash your Enthusiasm and Study the Classics. Others are more intriguing: Be your Worst, Sweep the Floor, and Stay in the Trenches.
This is a readable and slim volume - and it doesn't need to be any longer or long-winded - having seen the format most readers will find that they can come up with more patterns to add to the collection.