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3 Books all software developers should read

29 March 2021 <> Written by Robert Bell

Software developers/programmers/engineers are often portrayed in the wider world as laser-focused, modern-day geniuses, we can never even hope to understand. But as with most unattainable archetypes, that couldn’t be further from the truth. For a start, we reside in Sheffield, rather than Silicon Valley, and we still build very cool stuff.

Our Razor software team are all pretty human. Ordinary people working with extraordinary technology. And we understand that being good at software is about hard work, honing your craft and being absolutely committed to learning.

In a rare glimpse inside the mind of a software expert, our Principal Developer, Robert Bell has shared a collection of book recommendations he believes are game-changing for developers, budding startup founders or anyone seeking to understand more about software.

A book to set your coding bar high

Clean Code by Robert Martin was one of the books that gave me the confidence to contribute in a room of more experienced programmers. It felt like a book of cheat codes to instantly make whatever you’re building better. I loved learning from this book but I do feel I became a bit dogmatic because of it. The concepts are sound but he is a little militant in the way he embraces them.

A book for complex software at scale

Release it by Michael T. Nygard (full title: Release It! Design and Deploy Production-ready Software) lifts the lid on how complex software and infrastructure at scale works, and what fundamental principles and patterns to become familiar with to aid you in building robust systems.

After thinking I was writing perfect enterprise software (lol), Release It brought me crashing back to earth with a bang. Some developer problems just didn’t seem that much of an issue anymore. It opened a portal into some serious business that I hadn't been exposed to before, leaving me equally scared and excited.

A book to open your mind to the future

So you like this building thing, huh? Lean Startup by Eric Ries is an essential read for understanding how to take the thing you love more than anything else (building software, right?) to the next level. It will give you the confidence in iterating on whatever you’re iterating on, to bring clarity and focus onto what matters in business. How to adapt and thrive.

It takes a pretty well validated (at least in 2021) approach to building software products and businesses by way of making and testing hypotheses - ideally in the shortest amount of time and with the least amount of money - to aid in strategic decision making. It’s the Silicon Valley way of out iterating your competition and making data-driven decisions to win.

Robert’s Honourable mentions

  • Anything by Basecamp (something about their perspective resonates really well with me)
  • TDD by example by Kent Beck
  • Refactoring by Martin Fowler

As you can tell we're pretty passionate about what we do - and we love talking about our craft - so feel free to chat to us (Rob is @yorobertbell on Twitter!)

If you’re a fellow developer and like how we talk about what we do, then check out our careers page - we’re always looking for brilliant humans.

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