Ship It! A Practical Guide to Successful Software Projects

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This article is written by Abhay Bakshi, who put together a book review of Ship it! A Practical Guide to Successful Software Projects. I like the book and what Abhay thought about it and I thank him for sharing his views. This is not solely a technology book or a software development methodology book – it rather asks the reader to be practical or down to earth when participating in a software project and when making choices and implementing them. The book talks about authors’ experiences in handling simple and complex software projects. This book is kind of small(er) in size. I think, that’s good and keeps the boring, heavier aspect away. It consists of three major parts: Tools Available to You (Chapter 2) Techniques that You Can Adopt (Chapter 3) Tracer Bullet Development (authors’ own process that is comparable to RUP or XP) (Chapter 4) The book contents read as if Jared is talking to you. One has to feel the author’s passion. But, more than the passion, I would say that the contents of the book are quite genuine. Jared and William have written in a wholehearted fashion about their techniques. You get a sense that both of them have worked on a reasonably high number of software projects, and have done hands-on development before they accepted their team lead positions. A software developer keeps moving up the ladder in his (her) career. Once a team-lead, he faces new challenges, may get squeezed between the two layers viz. his team members and his upper management. Those kinds of dramatizations/scenarios in real life are available in the book. They sound like story-telling. That’s entertaining. Keeps your interest. Some other parts are only straight-forward though, at times read like pep-talks! The Ship It! Effect In the last three weeks (after I finished reading the book), I wanted to see how much effect the toutings in the book would have on my work activities. I thought that it would be a right test for this kinda book. I am now happy to say that the book has helped. I also have to give myself partial credit because during this time, I have kept revising the ideas from the book constantly in my mind. Let me say, I have started using The List, and there are more things for me to do in that direction. There are a few things that the book could improve on, I am confident; but, as is, this is one good book. The Technical Aspect The book is technical at its core and talks around the technicality. Here are some interesting details that the book covers: Scripting your build process Continuous Integration with tools like CruiseControl Issue Tracking Automating Tests with Mock Objects Various tools and authors’ first hand experiences The Wiki use of The List Impressive team building experiences Software Development method (Tracer Bullet Development) Six Appendixes with a lot of reference URLs Author also clearly differentiates between what he has read, and what he has only ‘heard’ about in his references. I think, that’s good for us to know. At the end of each section, the book provides goodies such as “How to Get Started”, “You’re Doing It Right If…”, and “Warning Signs”. Those are helpful. Where the Book Can Improve As for the author’s writing style, there are some sections where the authors could add some more real-life ‘conversations’ or real-life ‘stories’. For example, ‘X did this, we talked to X, X listened or didn’t, and eventually X got better or suffered losses’. People love stories. If there is another edition, I would request that more ‘stories’ be added. One other thing that the book does not put as much weight on is the factor of ‘corporate politics’. Sometimes, you get a feeling that author wants to pause a moment and weigh the corporate politics factor in, but, he doesn’t. No doubt, discipline as touted in the book will work for everyone. I kind of believe that discipline in general is contagious (that is, if somebody notices for a long time that I am being more disciplined and being more productive that way, then they will also try to mimic my habits), but there are still some factors (politics, jealousy!, and more) in the real corporate – whether smaller or larger – that tend to delay your possible adoptions of best (useful) practices. Lastly, as for the editors, I also think the presentation can be arranged in a better way. There are “Joe Asks…” and “Tip xxx” kind bulbs, but certain advanced pieces of the content deserve just some more effective highlight. I don’t work as a presentation editor, still I can’t help but feel: some small unknown and necessary leg of higher quality presentation is missing. For $19.77, I can’t complain much though. Overall The book price is apt. You will start benefiting from Day One; and you will only continue to benefit further if you keep revising the contents and keep implementing ideas from the book. I will be trying to get myself tuned with the methodologies mentioned in the book.

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