Book Review: The Complete Software Developer’s Career Guide

I started my blog here in part to help advance my personal career. While speaking at Boise Code Camp 2017 I was fortunate to hear the keynote speech of John Sonmez of After reading many of his posts, I have been a fan of his. He offers some excellent career guide type of information on his site and in his books.

He recently released a new book, The Complete Software Developer’s Career Guide. I grabbed the Kindle version of the book shortly after release, the physical book arrived a few days later, and I wanted to share some thoughts.

This is the second book by Sonmez that I have read, the first being Soft Skills: The software developer’s life manual and they are both, in my opinion, must haves (not just reads) for software developers. I say must haves because I find myself continually returning to them for information. Let’s have a look at what is in the Career Guide.

Career Guide

The Complete Software Developer's Career Guide

I am generally hesitant to jump on anything that claims to be a complete guide to something. However, Sonmez has included so much information in this book that I really can’t think of anything he left out. To start with, the book is big. Almost 800 pages big. Over 3.5 pounds big. Okay, not the Kindle version, but the physical book is a beast. In comparison, the book Cracking the Coding Interview is over a hundred pages shorter.

Topics Covered

Sonmez breaks his book into a few different sections which really helps to make it a quick reference. The sections and included chapters include a wide range of topics and information that is useful for those starting out to those who are veteran developers. The topics covered are:

  • Getting Started as a Software Developer
  • Getting a Job
  • What You Need to Know About Software Development
  • Working as a Developer
  • Advancing Your Career

Deeper Look

There are many nuggets of information in this book. There is coverage for the beginning questions of the types of development available or which language to choose (Hint: it doesn’t really matter, choose one!) and how to quickly develop your skills. Sonmez covers where to pick up your programming education… teach yourself, go to college, a boot camp? The pros and cons are covered here in nice detail.

He also covers in great detail about things to think about while working as a developer. How do you deal with people who may be great developers but lack an understanding of the human interaction side of things? He covers that. How about dealing with and understanding management? He covers that as well. I really like a line in Chapter 37.

A good boss is measured on how well the people under him perform and how he is able to manage and report on their activities.

I know I have had a variety of managers in my career, some good, others not so much so. That line sums things up pretty well.

Sonmez wraps up his book with a great section on how to advance your career. Some might think that this section is only applicable to industry veterans. But really, in my opinion, people just starting out can use these techniques while trying to find their first job as well. Things, like starting a blog and keeping your skills up to date, are something everyone can (and should) be doing.

 Physical Book versus Kindle

I am typically a paper book person. There is just something for me about having a physical piece of paper to turn. That being said, one of the things about the Kindle edition that I find very useful is the links to additional resources that Sonmez scatters throughout the book. While he does do a considerable amount of self-promotion in these links (can’t blame him for that) he also includes some great external resources as well.

Wrap Up

Mr. Sonmez has a great deal to offer the developer community. He has inspired me to keep a pace of writing blog posts and to share my knowledge as a speaker at events, such as Boise Code Camp and local meetups like the Willamette Valley Software Engineers.

His latest work is another excellent offering with some timeless guidance. I would highly encourage you to pick up a copy today. It could make all the difference in you obtaining your next job, so what’s stopping you?

Follow me on Twitter @kenwalger to get the latest updates on my postings.


Monetary Data Type Storage in MongoDB

One piece of information that is frequently stored in databases is monetary data. Sometimes this poses challenges in data storage as we are left with decisions to be made as to what value to store. One option to store data is to store the data strictly in numeric value. If an item costs $12.99, we could store the monetary value of 12.99 and designate it as USD.

Troubles with Monetary Values

This often can lead to some rounding and data precision issues however when using double values. For example, if a value is 13.4999999999 it might be stored as 13.5000000000. These rounding issues can obviously pose problems over the long run.

Another option might be to store the value as a string which, while maintaining precision, poses some challenges for doing calculations on the data. Another frequent method to store monetary data is to store the value in cents value of the item. Here in the United States, for example, we use dollars that are valued at one-hundred cents. Therefore we could store the value of a $11.99 item as 1199 and then perform conversion calculations to get back to 11.99.

Storing Monetary Values

As mentioned above, we can store data in a variety of ways. In general, however, two basic approaches are taken.

The first approach is to store the value that is displayed to customers, $11.99 in our example as a string and then to also store an approximate value as a float. Something along the lines of:

    product_name: "fidget spinner",
    price: { value: "11.99", float_value: 11.99000000000, currency: "USD" }

That certainly works, but it still has the potential for rounding errors and there are two different values that must be updated. Wouldn’t it be great if we could simply store our value in the database? Fortunately, there is.

NumberDecimal in MongoDB

One of the features in version 3.4 of MongoDB is support for the NumberDecimal data type. This data type allows for 128-bit decimal based values. It is specifically designed and intended for use for applications needing to store monetary or high precision values. It is an implementation of the BSON decimal type. Since MongoDB stores data in BSON format, it allows us to model monetary data in our database with ease.

Now, for our fidget spinner product, we can model our data using NumberDecimal and take advantage of its features.

    product_name: "fidget spinner",
    price: { value: NumberDecimal("11.99"), currency: "USD" }

This allows us to not need a scale factor either. Monetary data will be stored on the server in a mathematically useful fashion. This allows for calculations to be made on the server using MongoDB’s aggregation pipeline. By doing calculations on the server we get less network traffic which can ultimately lead to better applications.

Wrap Up

I would highly recommend looking at and using NumberDecimal for your data type when storing monetary data in MongoDB. It is another reason to upgrade to version 3.4. If you haven’t upgraded yet, it might be a good time to do so. Or even better, check out their DBaaS offering Atlas.

There are several MongoDB specific terms in this post. I created a MongoDB Dictionary skill for the Amazon Echo line of products. Check it out and you can say “Alexa, ask MongoDB what is BSON?” and get a helpful response.

Follow me on Twitter @kenwalger to get the latest updates on my postings.