Author: Eric Brechner
Publisher: Microsoft Press, 2007
Aimed at: Software developers and managers
Pros: Entertaining and insightful
Cons: You only get out of it what you put in
Reviewed by: Dave Wheeler
Brechner’s a brave man. In his opening paragraph, he tells you that this book is going to be dull (because this book is about best practice), which might well be enough for most people to put the book straight back onto the shelf. However, this book is far from dull.
This is definitely not a “This is how we write software at Microsoft” book. Instead, it is a more philosophical look at how all aspects of software development can be improved, and is based on a collection of articles written for various Microsoft-internal Webzines and sites. Like most “best practices” books, Brechner’s contains a lot of powerful information on everything from how you should run interviews; handle work/life balance; design applications; and even deal with detailed aspects such as how you should handle exceptions. However, he tries to avoid being too prescriptive and succeeds more often than he fails.
Brechner captures his wealth of experience in software development and management, particularly within Microsoft, and makes it highly accessible to the reader. His style is entertaining and comedic, without being too over the top, and the chances are that on a number of occasions you’ll disagree vehemently with what he’s saying: I certainly did. But that’s actually a considerable part of the value of the book, as it challenges you, the reader, to think about what you’re doing and how you might improve it. So if you’re the sort of developer, or manager, that is passionate about your work, then you’ll find this book interesting and thought provoking. And if not, don’t bother with this book because you’re likely not to care about improving your own work, the development process or even your career.