Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Clean Coder (1)

Yesterday I read about half of The Clean Coder by Robert Martin. So far, this book is great. It is very interesting and easy to read. The book is essentially about how developers are to act in the workplace, as professionals. While this may not be the first book on the market about how to be a professional, it offers the unique perspective a software developer. Even though my career is only 6 months old, I wish that I had read this book 6 months ago. Here's a few of the things I have learned so far.

Work Ethic

Within the software world, the most common attitude I have seen about work ethic has been to work hard while at work and then leave. With this attitude, there is no room for training outside of work, practicing outside of work, or reading software books outside of work. If those things are to happen, they have to happen on work time, on the boss' dime. However, Uncle Bob presents a very different idea. He simply states that these things your responsibility. You need to be learning, reading, and practicing on your own time. He draws a great analogy that musicians don't get great by performing, but by practicing. The same applies to software developers. We need to continuously learn and practice our craft, on our own time. Here is Uncle Bob's suggestion,
I'm not talking about all your free time here. I'm talking about 20 extra hours per week. That's roughly three hours per day. If you use your lunch hour to read, listen to podcasts on you commute, and spend 90 minutes per day learning a new language, you'll have it covered. Do the math. In a week there are 168 hours. Give your employer 40, and your career another 20. That leaves 108. Another 56 for sleep leaves 52 for everything else.1

Do; or do not. There is no trying.

There is a huge temptation in the software world to say, "Sure, I'll try." Your boss asks you to get something done by Monday, but you know that there is now way that it can be done until Wednesday, so you say, "I'll try." Uncle Bob states that this is simply unprofessional. As professionals, we should never say that we'll try to do something. We give accurate estimates and we stick to them. By saying, "I'll try", we are giving our employers a false sense of security and lying to them. We have to act as professionals and stick to our estimates.

1. Martin, Robert C. "Chapter 1: Professionalism." The Clean Coder: a Code of Conduct for Professional Programmers. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2011. 17. Print.

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