Coder to Developer

The concept

I liked the blurb on the back:

“This title addresses all of the skills required to effectively design and develop complex applications, including planning, building and developing the application and coding defensively to prevent bugs.”

It suggests that it can bring you from the stage where you focus entirely on the code to the point where you can take in a whole project, make it all work and delight your customers. Mike Gunderloy has 25 years of commercial experience and so has a lot to say.

As he points out in the early chapters, there is a lot of ground to cover. There is everything from actually writing better code, through to planning, risk management, release management and handling your team. He covers all of these areas, providing handy hints and war stories clearly gleaned from hard-won experience.

For example, I liked the way that he sticks to the things that you need to know, even splitting them up into categoories where it makes sense. Gunderloy seems to be as amazed as I am about how m any projects do not use source control, and he lists Three Levels of Source Code Control Enlightenment, from Opening Your Eyes (just six commands and many benefits!), to SCC Journeyman (which he acknowledges may be all many people need), through to Experts Only (which he spends so little time on that it’s difficult to know what the various options he talks about are for).

Windows Coder to Windows Developer?

What you’ve seen so far is praise for the general concept of the book rather than anything very specific. There’s a reason for that. For a general software engineering book, it’s strange that there is such a strong Windows and .Net slant. There is no need for such details and it will reduce its longevity and usefulness. Steve McConnell’s “Code Complete” is ten years old and is still relevant (even though a new edition has just come out). In six months Coder To Developer could well look dated.

There is also a question-mark over the accuracy of some of the information. For example, he credits the the iterative development process to Microsoft and Rational, forgetting Bohem’s spiral model predated both by well over ten years. He seems to be much more fluent in more recent practises like Agile and XP, which is commendable but seemingly lacking the foundations makes it difficult to put these newer methodologies into perspective.

But if you can ignore these problems, there is lots of good advice. He’s pragmatic ? using the good bits of, say, XP without taking the process as gospel ? and the writing is accessible and friendly. Even disagreeing with some of the early chapters, I still persevered as it wasn’t a dense or difficult read.

The facts

Author: Mike Gunderloy

Cost: $29.99

ISBN: 0-7821-4327-X.

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