Lars Tesmer's Blog

From Journeyman to Master - A Software Craftsman's Blog

Review: The Clean Coder - a Code of Conduct for Professional Programmers

Robert C. Martin aka Uncle Bob, a programmer with decades of experience under his belt, lets us in about what he has learned in his professional life and, more importantly, how he has failed, sometimes failed miserably. The Clean Coder is an important book.

In short, the author helps you to prevent you from making the same mistakes that he committed, giving orientation in one’s quest to become a true professional, a software master.

The book covers several topics, e.g. how to say no (and yes!), how to write clean code, how to test, how to become more effective and efficient.

And while all those topics are different in content, there’s one big leitmotif:

Self Responsibility.

Especially when talking about his failures, this leitmotif becomes evident:
Neither is Robert C. Martin blaming other people, nor the environment, nor bad luck, nor lack of time – no, the essence of his stories is that he himself failed, failed to be responsible, failed to act professionally.

What a tough realization!

I mean, it’s a little bit depressing to see it this way, think about it:
Your project is a mess, you’re under constant pressure, haven’t seen your family for a long time, you hate your co-workers – why, it’s your fault, according to the author.

At the same time, this is also an optimistic way to view things:
If it’s your fault, your responsibility to having got into such a situation, then it’s also you who can change it! You don’t depend on others, you only depend on yourself.

Now, I’m not sure if I entirely follow this conclusion, it’s a thin line to walk between a successful career and depression/burnout. You have to be very self-observant and tread carefully when adapting this way of thinking.

However, I still think it’s a very useful and effective way of thinking, it renders it harder to simply get used to bad situations:
The code you work on sucks? – Well, then start to write better code!

Your company doesn’t allow for much time to practice, to hone your skills? – Well, go ahead and change it! Find some like-minded co-workers, practice with them after work, go to your bosses and pester them to allocate at least a few hours per month for practice!

Summing up, The Clean Coder is an opinionated, yet important book, which you should read (with a critical mind) in order to become a better, a more professional programmer.