The Pragmatic Programmer: a bad classic
Some books seem to enjoy a bible-like status in the programming world. The Pragmatic Programmer is one of them. It is usually well ranked among Top 10 Programming books posts scattered all over tech blogs.
The writing is fine, it is entertaining to read. But you won’t learn much with “The Pragmatic Programmer”, it is too shallow to make a significant impact. It introduces a concept, sometime gives a quick example, and move on to something else. It is a programmer’s self-help book, and like most self-help books, works this way:
- Read the book
- Feel good
- Don’t change anything
Many examples and exercises are confusing or badly explained. Some are just plain wrong like one example page 189.
Overall I was disappointed. The book is not particularly bad, but it’s overrated. Don’t waste your time reading it if you really want to be a better programmer. I recommend Code Complete 2ed, it is detailled and clear.
Update 2020-02-26: If there's a blog post I regret it's this one. In hindsight it's not that The Pragmatic Programmer is a bad book, it's that I didn't learn much from it because at the time I had been programming for more than 15 years, while still being relatively young. This made me arrogant. Now that I'm old and I took a few well-deserved punches in the face I'm more measured. I now think The Pragmatic Programmer is a bit like the 7 Habits of Highly effective People by Stephen R. Covey or Getting Things Done by David Allen: a classic introduction to ideas that most practitioners have mastered, but that's mind blowing for newcomers. Someone on Twitter said this book was the most recommended programming book, so there must be something to it.