The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master

Author: Andrew Hunt
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About This Book

Straight from the programming trenches, The Pragmatic Programmer cuts through the increasing specialization and technicalities of modern software development to examine the core process--taking a requirement and producing working, maintainable code that delights its users. 


This book covers topics ranging from personal responsibility and career development to architectural techniques for keeping your code flexible and easy to adapt and reuse.


Read this book, and you'll learn how to

  • Fight software rot;
  • Avoid the trap of duplicating knowledge;
  • Write flexible, dynamic, and adaptable code;
  • Avoid programming by coincidence;
  • Bullet-proof your code with contracts, assertions, and exceptions;
  • Capture real requirements;
  • Test ruthlessly and effectively;
  • Delight your users;
  • Build teams of pragmatic programmers; and
  • Make your developments more precise with automation.


Written as a series of self-contained sections and filled with entertaining anecdotes, thoughtful examples, and interesting analogies, The Pragmatic Programmer illustrates the best practices and major pitfalls of many different aspects of software development. Whether you're a new coder, an experienced programmer, or a manager responsible for software projects, use these lessons daily, and you'll quickly see improvements in personal productivity, accuracy, and job satisfaction. You'll learn skills and develop habits and attitudes that form the foundation for long-term success in your career. You'll become a Pragmatic Programmer.


What others in the trenches say about The Pragmatic Programmer...

“The cool thing about this book is that it’s great for keeping the programming process fresh. The book helps you to continue to grow and clearly comes from people who have been there.”

Kent Beck, author of Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change

“I found this book to be a great mix of solid advice and wonderful analogies!”

Martin Fowler, author of Refactoring and UML Distilled

“I would buy a copy, read it twice, then tell all my colleagues to run out and grab a copy. This is a book I would never loan because I would worry about it being lost.”

Kevin Ruland, Management Science, MSG-Logistics

“The wisdom and practical experience of the authors is obvious. The topics presented are relevant and useful.... By far its greatest strength for me has been the outstanding analogies—tracer bullets, broken windows, and the fabulous helicopter-based explanation of the need for orthogonality, especially in a crisis situation. I have little doubt that this book will eventually become an excellent source of useful information for journeymen programmers and expert mentors alike.”

John Lakos, author of Large-Scale C++ Software Design

“This is the sort of book I will buy a dozen copies of when it comes out so I can give it to my clients.”

Eric Vought, Software Engineer

“Most modern books on software development fail to cover the basics of what makes a great software developer, instead spending their time on syntax or technology where in reality the greatest leverage possible for any software team is in having talented developers who really know their craft well. An excellent book.”

Pete McBreen, Independent Consultant

“Since reading this book, I have implemented many of the practical suggestions and tips it contains. Across the board, they have saved my company time and money while helping me get my job done quicker! This should be a desktop reference for everyone who works with code for a living.”

Jared Richardson, Senior Software Developer, iRenaissance, Inc.

“I would like to see this issued to every new employee at my company....”

Chris Cleeland, Senior Software Engineer, Object Computing, Inc.

“If I’m putting together a project, it’s the authors of this book that I want. . . . And failing that I’d settle for people who’ve read their book.”

Ward Cunningham


by eemiiilyy   2018-02-16

Yes. Read The Pragmatic Programmer by Andrew Hunt. This will take you from "script kiddie" status to "engineer" status, and will change your mindset from "I can hack things together" to "I can engineer a solution." It's not hugely technical, but requires technical background to understand the context. I'd say it's a very appropriate guide on "how to think like a programmer."

by mredding   2018-02-16

I can't speak of a specific book that is a comprehensive history of computing, but I will speak to books that speak of our culture, our myths, and our hero's.

Hackers and Painters , by Paul Graham. People are polarized about the man, whether he's too "pie in the sky" - full of shit and ego, or if he speaks as an ambassador to our most optimistic ideals of our (comp-sci) culture. The contents of this book is a collection of his essays that are inspirational. It made me forego the societal pressures within our culture and reject popular opinion because it is merely popular and just an opinion, which is a virtue no matter who you are, where you are, or what you do. All these essays are on his website, though. If you want to review them, I recommend Hackers and Painters (the essay), What You Can't Say, Why Nerds are Unpopular, and The Age of the Essay; his oldest essays are at the bottom of the page and go up - he writes about what he's thinking about or working on at the time, so you'll see the subject matter change over time. So much of this will have direct application to his middle school and high school life. I cannot recommend this book, and the rest of his essays, enough.

If he wants to get into programming, I recommend The Pragmatic Programmer . This book talks about the software development process. I'm not going to lie, I don't know when best to introduce this book to him. It's not a hard read whatsoever, but it's abstract. I read it in college in my first months and said, "Ok," and put it down. Approaching the end of college and my first couple years in my profession, I would reread it ever 6 months. It's a kind of book that doesn't mean anything, really, without experience, without having to live it, when he has an obligation to his craft, his profession. I tell you about this one since you're asking about books to tell him, because this isn't something someone would normally come up across without being told about it.

The Cathedral and the Bazaar is a telling book about the cultural differences between the proprietary monoliths like Apple and Microsoft, and the Free and Open Source Software communities that back such popular software as Linux (the most popular operating system on the planet, running on all top 500 super computers, most server computers on the internet, and all Android phones) and Chrome(the worlds most popular web browser). Indeed, this book directly reflects the huge cultural battle that was duked out in the field, in the industry, and in the courts from the mid-90s and into the 2000s. It advocates helping the community, contributing to something larger than yourself, and that none of us are as good as all of us. To paraphrase Linus Torvalds(inventor of Linux) "Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow."

It's important to know who the hero's are in our culture, and they are diverse and varied, they're not just computer scientists, but mathematicians, physicists, philosophers, science fiction writers, and more. I would find a good book on Nicola Tesla, since he invented basically everything anyway (Thomas Edison was a great businessman, but a bit of a tosser), Richard Feynman was a physicist who is still celebrated in his field, and he even worked for Thinking Machines, back in the day, which was a marvel of it's time. Seymour Cray founded Cray Supercomputers and they have a lasting legacy in the field, a biography on that would be interesting. A biography on Symbolics and their Lisp Machines will make him yearn to find one still functioning (a rare gem that crops up every now and again, though he can run one in an emulator), and about the "AI Winter", a significant historic era (note: the AI Winter is over, and we are in spring, the history is both compelling and enthralling). Anything Issac Asimov published (in nearly every category of the dewy decimal system) is also compelling, and hardly dated. In fact, he's the originator of a lot of modern sci-fi. Charles Babbage invented the modern computer (though it was entirely mechanical in his day, and it wasn't actually built until 1996-2002) and Ada Lovelace was the worlds first computer programmer. A woman! Speaking of women, and it's worth young men learning this about our history, Grace Hopper was a military computer engineer who invented the term "bug".

And speaking of women, someone I have respect for, especially if your boy wants to get into game development is Sheri Graner Ray's Gender Inclusive Game Design , which may be more appropriate when he's in high school, and I consider it required reading for anyone who wants to enter the gaming industry. The book lays out plainly how video games hyper-sexualize both women, and, for some reason surprisingly to many - men, it's disastrous effects it has for the game industry, the game market, and the gaming community, and insights on how we may combat it. I have seen colleagues (men) become indignant and personally offended at reading this book, but were absolutely humbled when they took the fight to Sheri directly (we had a few phone interviews with her, always fantastic). If your boy found a problem with this book, he would do well to read Paul Grahams essay on keeping his identity small... The subject matter is not a personal attack on the individual, but on the blight, and he would be better served finding himself on the right side of history with this one, it would serve him well if he were to pursue this craft, specifically, but also any forward facing media in general.

And I also recommend some good books on math. Algebra, linear algebra, calculus, and statistics. You can get very far, lead an entire career unto retirement without knowing anything more than arithmetic and basic, basic algebra, but he could only serve himself well if he makes the decision that he is going to like maths and chooses to willfully become good at it. Outside the context of school and terrible teachers, it's actually an enthralling subject. Just get him a copy of Flatland, Flatterland, and Sphereland. Try this , the book is the narrative of some witty laymen who discover a whole branch of mathematics from first principles, the surreal numbers, an extension of imaginary numbers. It's really quite good, but might keep him occupied for a couple years in high school.

I should stop here or I never will.

by Ispamm   2018-02-16

Don't give up just yet, keep looking. Do you have a portfolio? if not try to work on a project of your own so you can have something to show. And if you are considering improving your java skills try work with libraries like:

With spare time I would also recommend you to read:

by hwtan   2017-10-20
The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master

This book seems to be a classic for programmers.

by sjclemmy   2017-08-19
I did the same; taught myself css, php, javascript and quit my FTJ last Christmas. Best thing I ever did.

I also sent the following as advice to someone wanting to get into web dev:

"I was just thinking of 'easy ins' to the world of web development and a good source of information is there's a lot of information from people who work in the world of tech startups and it's good information.

Also - if you are wanting to do php dev the key things to learn are: Software engineering techniques and practice - object oriented development and abstract patterns are key to how to think about good development. Database design and development (1st normal form, third normal form etc) Learn SQL. (SQL for dummies or similar is good for the basic commands and syntax etc.) - it's the best source of help for software development on the internet. read books, the ones that come up again and again when people talk about learning to program:

also - look at - that's where programmers keep their source code.

Learn about Object Oriented Programming, Design Patterns, MVC (which is a design pattern) is specifcally useful for web development.

Also - demand for javascript programmers will increase over the coming years because of things like jQuery and Ajax.

That's my starter for ten - if you are interested in a career as a web programmer.

If you want to focus more on the html/css design side you could do worse than focusing on one CMS - such as wordpress and learning it inside out - you could then offer that to clients and it's a good way to provide web sites cheaply with very little effort."

by hga   2017-08-19
As a 54 year old alum:

Unless you've been seriously programming for a number of years, with a fair amount of that in teams, including face to face ones, you're probably not nearing your peak. I'd suggest reading The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master ( and judge where you are in the range from journeyman to master.

If you're looking for "lock-in", i.e. be easily employable past your ability to fake looking under 35, I'd suggest getting a job with a serious security clearance, which can be a trick, or specialize in one of the fields that respects grey hairs like embedded (but only so much depending on the sub-field, e.g. Detroit car companies at least in times past recruited heavily from Course 6 because they too got rid of their older EEs and programmers).

If you goal is to really work for yourself, and you think you can eventually bill at a rate 5-6 times the income you want to receive---maybe talk to some professors who make a lot of money on their one day a week dedicated to that, albeit they do it with MIT Professor on the CV---yes, that's a very good way to go. But hard for most people. See e.g. this comment which points out you have to compete on quality, not price, and a couple of HN contributors who've written a lot about that.

Medicine: in a county, or the developed "West", where people by and large don't directly pay for their own medical care, and those who do pay are looking at a rapidly graying population, well, it's a field you ought to run screaming from, unless it's your calling.

Don't know about MechE and so on, in general you need to talk to older engineers, the people who run the department, professors, etc., of course adjusting for selection bias. If you haven't already identified a calling, well, you have a lot of options, especially if you're strong at math. Especially before the 2008 crash, a lot of EE strong and therefore math strong EECS graduates would get initial jobs in finance with their proven math chops, which if they were smart got them in a good financial position to do something they really wanted to do later.

by wernercd   2017-08-19

You could get books like: The Pragmatic Programmer or Code Complete which discusses a lot of best practices, theory and other important parts about programming... that WILL help you in the long run...

But realistically, you won't learn to actually program... until you actually program.

Troll ebay or walmart for a cheap laptop or a desktop. $200-300 should be able to get you something to program on.

by IAmUtterlyAlone   2017-08-19

I would definitely recommend The Pragmatic Programmer .