The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Developers: Habit #7: Sharpen the Saw

Moore’s law may be on the verge of collapse, but if there’s one constant law in technology, it’s of course, that nothing is constant in technology except change.

So, if you want to be a highly effective developer you can’t rest on your laurels, you can only dwell in the spotlight of your latest successful project until the next ‘new thing’ unseats your achievements, and you must constantly be improving and enhancing your skills—sharpening your saw, if you will.

In the case of developers, that means adding to your knowledge base and keeping up with industry advancements. For working professionals, that usually means hitting the books again. Here are some we think will make your coding chops a little sharper, your development—both personal and professional—a bit more effective.

Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction, Second Edition (Steve McConnell, Microsoft Press, 2009)

The chief software engineer at Construx Software and a winner of Software Development magazine’s Productivity Award, author Steve McConnell’s tome comes in at nearly 1,000 pages, each of them packed with text and examples of how best to practice the art and science of software construction. McConnell shares with readers his time-tested techniques for developing software with minimum complexity and maximum creativity and shelf life. For McConnell, high quality code is his mantra and this book shows you to achieve that on every project you take on.

Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship (Robert C. Martin, Prentice Hall, 2008)

Martin prides himself on his craftsmanship as a developer and here he teaches developers who aspire to be as effective as they can how to hone their craft, something he attributes to two things: knowledge and experience.

As an example, Martin cites the principles of riding a bike. You can learn all the theoretical physics you like about bike-riding, gravity, friction, momentum, and balance but no matter how well you understand all those formulae, you’re still going to fall down the first time you hop on a two-wheeler. Coding, he explains, is no different.

Expect plenty of hard work while reading this book Martin warns. The book is divided into three sections: Principles, patterns, and practices of clean code; case studies introduced in increasing complexity; and the “payoff” the “heuristics and smells” accumulated while writing the case studies. Dig in and buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

Agile Software Development with Scrum (Series in Agile Software Development) (Ken Schwaber and Mike Beedle, Prentice Hall 2001)

An industry classic at this point, the authors teach the fundamentals of eXtreme programming using Scrum principles. You will learn to how to implement the processes of eXtreme programming while producing incrementally viable software within as little as 30 days. Using Agile techniques you will virtually eliminate complexity and speed your projects to testing and, ultimately, to market.

Software in 30 Days: How Agile Managers Beat the Odds, Delight Their Customers, And Leave Competitors In the Dust (Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, Wiley, 2012)

Author Ken Schwaber teams up with Jeff Sutherland for this 2012 addition to the canon of code development manuals. The pair show you how to deploy “game-changing” software in the time it takes you to blow through your monthly lunch allowance. Using Agile and Scrum methodologies, they claim, results in projects three times more successful than those built without them. You’ll learn how control risk, manage projects, and develop software faster and better than you ever thought possible.

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