Evan J Palmer's Blog

A blog about learning (code, improv, film and, anything else).

Category: Book Review

Book Review: Pragmatic Thinking and Learning


I was looking to learn more about Agile practices and asked around to a few of my friends. One guy recommended Pragmatic Thinking and Learning by Andy Hunt.


Funnily enough, I wouldn’t call this a book on Agile per se. It’s more like a discussion on some excellent ways of finding problems with your learning or productivity with the goal of being aware of them and correcting them.

Now, this is something that I’ve been looking for for a long time and was extremely happy to find it. I couldn’t recommend this book more highly – it’s full of excellent tips to make your brain work better and faster.

For me it also highlighted the importance of some things I am already doing (eg. blogging) and helped me solidify some ideas I’ve already had around situations in the workplace/learning – for example, defining skill stages of novices, advanced beginner, competent,  proficient and experts, and the role and importance of each in the work place.


Review: The Art of Unit Testing

I’ve recently started my first meaty commercial project with unit testing. I’ve been doing it for a month or so, maybe six weeks I’ve already been saved by my Unit Tests several times, and found my productivity increase dramatically.

I never want to go back to writing without tests again.

My team currently has mixed experience with Unit Testing. We have a developer with a lot of practical experience, to a developer with little to no knowledge of the subject.

The developer with all the experience suggested I read, The Art of Unit Testing by Roy Osherove, and I’m really glad he did.

I’ve had interest in unit testing for a while, and implemented it (poorly) on a small brochureware site while back. I read the book Working Effectively With Legacy Code by Michael Feathers when I started working on the current project because…  of the ample crap code, so I had some ideas about testing in general. I think I learnt a lot from that book, but failed at implementing anything of any real use out of it, for several reasons (mainly a huge turnover in staff at the time).

For someone with no real experice, this book was really excellent. To me it felt like a long chat with a developer much smarter than me, and by that I mean, it seemed casual but knowledgeable and to-the-point. I felt that it really pointed me in the right direction, pointing out possible mistakes (that I was actually making), ironing out reasons for tests, and informing me of the best practices and conventions.

I’d recommend this book highly for someone starting out with Unit Tests (not necessarily TDD). I believe that it goes well with hands on experience, and as it’s not a particularly long book, you can get through it in the first few stages of the project.

Some other items I’ve found helped me along the way in addition to the book were Object Mothers and this TDD Code Kata. Very nice stuff.