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A friend of mine recommended this book to me a year ago and I finally got around to reading it. Not only do I wish I had taken him up on his recommendation immediately, I wish that I had read it years earlier. The book's subtitle "from journeyman to master" really sums it up nicely.

The book contains practical advice from experienced programmers that will help you become a more effective software developer. Unlike many books which dogmatically preach a specific methodology, this book focuses on (not-so-)common sense practices that are simple yet effective, as well as highlighting potential pitfalls to be avoided. Many of them can be applied to your own development process without requiring radical changes, while others will require team- or project-wide changes. Fortunately the nature of the recommended practices is such that you don’t have to adopt all of them to be effective. You can pick and choose which ones are most appropriate and gradually incorporate them into your development process.

The range of topics covered is fairly broad, but the important themes are writing easy-to-maintain, reusable code, identifying and adjusting requirements quickly and effectively, managing large projects, and avoiding bad habits and developing good attitudes. Although I don’t absolutely agree with everything the authors present, the justification they provide is thought stimulating and will probably change how you do things even if you don’t consciously decide to adopt any of their practices.

I found the exercises (and their accompanying solutions) scattered throughout the book to be extremely useful in internalizing the principles being taught, as well as gauging how well I approach problem-solving. I’d highly recommend working through them as you read the book.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning how enjoyable this book is to read. The authors’ sense of humor and sprinkling of anecdotes make this an easy read without in any way detracting from the content.

If you’re a brand new programmer, you probably won’t appreciate many of the ideas presented in this book, but come back after you have a year or two of experience. Successful, experienced programmers will find that this book confirms many of the things you’re already doing, while providing a lot of useful ideas to become even better. Even if you’re not a programmer, but manage or otherwise work with programming teams, you’ll find a lot of helpful information here. If there were one book I could require all of my coworkers to read, this would be it.
This an excellent book and I highly recommend it to everyone. The principles and practices outlined in this book are vital to good programming. This is a must read (and apply) book for anyone who wants to produce professional quality code.

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