Review: The Unlikely Success of a Copy-Paste Developer

Image borrowed from Iris' website

I was introduced to Iris Classon in a very entertaining interview in The Dot Net Core Podcast. They talked about her book, The Unlikely Success of a Copy-Paste Developer, and she was funny enough to actually make me want the read her work. Iris is a Microsoft MVP and have worked as a developer and conference speaker for a little over a decade.

I bought the book on Kindle and brought it with me on our family vacation this summer. Afterall it feels more familial and relaxed to sit in the shade with a book, than with a laptop, so the family was happy with it.

The book is about the mediocre developer, Leo, that tries to solve a problem at work in order to get promoted to Architect (Architects don't have to do Support - the worst thing imaginable for an introvert backend developer).

In order to solve the problem they need to use an old library from an assignment at Uni and in order to use it in their build pipeline, they need to make it public on GitHub. Apparently the library is really good, and suddently it's trending on GitHub leading to a lot of attention directed at antisocial introvert Leo and of course chaos ensues.

The story is well written and a really easy read - even for someone like me, that doesn't really read fiction. Iris, who has been a developer for over ten years has gathered a lot of funny stories that has been adapted to the overarching storyline of the book. The characters are really recognizable to anyone that have been in the business for a while. The once-developer-turned-project-manager that feels like they are God's gift to any project and takes credit when possible and pushes any blame further down the line. The overly enthusiastic junior dev who is skilled but wants to do waaay to much. The introvert main character who lives alone with an asshole of a cat in an almost empty apartment - and then there are the diverse startup people, the open source contributors, HR people and on and on. Almost all characters in the book remind me of someone I have worked with in my career so far, and that makes it so funny.

Many of the situations the characters finds themselves in also feels really familiar. The "SCRUM" which is Project Manager-speak for the Daily Standup (which of course is done sitting down), the deployment straight to production - on a friday, the badly arranged user group meetings, the productivity improvements forced on to the team by management, and many many more.

This is not like when you see a "hacker" in a movie, where the writers clearly just made something that seems geeky and sprinkled a few non-sensical tech-sounding words in to the dialogue (Like when you "Create GUI interface using Visual Basic to track the killers IP address!") it is actually written by someone that have inhabited our world for a decade, and has war stories to tell.

Even though you almost know how every side story goes, you still end up with a few surprises and a lot of giggles while watching Leo grow as a person.

The Unlikely Success of a Copy-Paste Developer is a great, but also quite inspiring, read for anyone that are in our line of business. Which of the characters do you see yourself in the most? Hopefully not David!

Mikkel Secher

Mikkel Secher