The Clean Coder: Chapters 1 & 2

The Clean Coder, this is my first book by Uncle Bob (Robert C. Martin) that I’ve read. Clean Code was on my list of “to read” books along with many other great books for programmers and developers. I had been working through Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, albeit at a sluggish pace and that is a great book as well. However, I read through the first two chapters of The Clean Coder this week and it is simply amazing. It’s a breath of fresh air from all the other “coding” books. What’s most interesting about this book is the fact that, at least with these first two chapters, the ideas extend far beyond just software development. His ideas of professionalism will essentially make any type of career better.

Chapter 1 began by talking about Professionalism. Uncle Bob’s main point in this chapter to strive towards professionalism was taking responsibility for our problems. He elaborated on this and really pushed the point of “Do No Harm”, and by this he meant strive create working and easily maintainable code. Obviously this is what we all strive for as programmers, but he went a step beyond that and began talking about making the responsibility of “perfect code” ours and ours alone. Don’t leave it to the QA team to find and report bugs, take that on yourself. Don’t leave it up to someone else to refactor your code to make it more extensible, do that yourself. I really appreciated this point, because sometimes I find myself slipping into the mindset of, “I don’t need to take care of that, it’s someone else’s problem. Even if I don’t have the answer 100% I should do my best to help the person reach the solution faster.

Chapter 2 talked about Saying no. This is something I personally struggle with. I am the kind of person who generally can’t tell people no – especially my bosses. I was bread with the mindset, from an early age, that when your employer instructs you to do something, do it. Now not to say this is a bad mindset by any means, but in the real world this can seriously hurt your career and your companies future.

My first major piece of “Software” the I ever attempted at building was a simple front end for a database that also had some data crunching abilities. I also had to design and build out the database. My company is not a software company but an environmental engineering firm so no one really had a clue about building software/coding. Fairly straight forward and easy to build project, for a Senior in his CS degree program. However, when I started this program I was in my first year as a CS student. At this point I had written small programs in languages like Java or Python, but each of these programs did simply CLI type functions and nothing too complicated. I think the most interesting thing I had done at this point was a Fibonacci calculator that used recursion and memoization. I hadn’t approached any problems that essentially required an architecture that used a front end as well as needed data persistence. I had no idea where to begin but I dove in anyways. I told my boss it was going to take 3 months or so to build something like this. I was going to work non-stopĀ over the summer on this project to get it done. The end of the summer came and I felt I barely had anything done. I was probably half way done with the feature sets that had been requested but felt I was on a roll. When my boss asked when it wouldn’t be done, I responded with the fact that I was “unsure”. I wasn’t sure what more bumps I was going to hit along the way because I had no experience at this. He gave me three more weeks and he wanted it done. I said okay.

I got all the features done is this program and it’s still being used at my company today. But I get requests constantly to fix some bug because I didn’t have time to test it. Because I didn’t tell my boss “No I can’t finish it in three weeks”, I was left with an embarrassing piece of work that I always afraid to show people due to my unprofessionalism during the development of that project.

In summary, I am extremely excited about going through this book and being able to apply what I read to not only Capstone project but also to my day to day work life. I think that not only developers should read at least the first 2 chapters of this book but anyone who builds a product for a customer.

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