Book Review: The Passionate Programmer

Matt McCormick


The Passionate Programmer

The Passionate Programmer is a book everyone in software can benefit from. For those of us working in software, there is the tendency to get complacent. After all, salaries are usually pretty good, working conditions are generally comfortable and good software developers are usually in demand. I know I’ve gone through phases in my career where I let myself get a little too comfortable. Maybe I stopped reading regularly about technology or stopped building things on the side.

The Passionate Programmer offers many ideas for how to improve your career. As with all self-help books, it would be impossible to implement everything but I think each person could find a couple ideas that can improve your work and your well-being. Early on in my career I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue software development. At one time, I wasn’t very happy with what I was doing. However, once deciding to continue, I wanted to be the best I could be so I started to get more interested in learning about software development. I found that as I began to learn more, I naturally became more interested in my work.

I think this is the premise behind “The Passionate Programmer.” To become happy with your work, you need to put your full effort into it. I think we all know this. If you think of who is happier - a person giving their full effort or a person who is just trying to do the minimum to get by - the answer is obvious to us. It just jumps out in our mind that the person giving their all will feel more fulfillment. You get out of life what you put in to it.

One of the chapters that jumped out at me was “Learn to Love Maintenance.” The title will be an oxymoron to most developers for obvious reasons. Everyone loves building new things. The times in my work where I have been the most engaged have definitely been when I have been involved in building new things. It’s understandable. Progress is made quickly in new software projects and you know at the end of the day just how much you accomplished. Maintenance doesn’t offer those quick wins as much and yet more time is spent on software maintenance than developing new products. So no matter your career path, odds are we all have to do maintenance at some point. We might as well enjoy it.

In short, the points of this book can be summed up as:

If you are currently excited about software development then this book may not help you much at the present time. If, however, years down the road you start wondering “Where did my passion for software go?” or if you are currently in this situation then this book may just help you wake up and re-discover your passion.