The Productive Programmer targets the developer audience, with the stated goal of discovering patterns and practices which make a developer more efficient. If you are not a developer, this is not the book you’re seeking.
The first section of the book, which I found to be of greatest value, is a collection of tips and suggestions intended to streamline your interaction with the computer. These would most applicable to those working outside the constraints of “locked down” corporate desktops, since many of the ideas presented involve the installation of open source software – that may not be an option in some environments. Specific tools, of course, aren’t the point, it’s the concept of saving keystrokes, automating where you can and scripting anything you’ll repeat that matter, and the author succeeds in making these points.
One negative aspect to these tips is that because the book attempts to cover the primary workstation operating systems, discussions about Linux, Mac and Windows can be interspersed. I found that format distracting.
In the second segment, the book discusses a collection of programming practices and parables. These chapters seemed to center on Java foibles; the author makes cogent observations about coding principles, but the specifics didn’t resonate with me because they don’t apply to my usual programming environments (Perl/Python/Ruby). These are still worth reading, since Ford has obviously seen his share of real-world projects, and his “take” on a problem may lead you to some new pathways.