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Professional Software Development: Shorter Schedules, Higher Quality Products, More Successful Projects, Better Software Careers [Paperback]

Steve McConnell
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: £31.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

30 Jun 2003 0321193679 978-0321193674 1

Renowned software expert Steve McConnell helps software students transition to the role of software professionals. Significant developments are afoot that will impact the future careers of student programmers, including initiatives in education, professional development, certification, and licensing. Some of these developments are well thought out and positive; others are being forced and need to be improved before they are standardized. Software development is changing, whether programmers recognize it or not. Programmers who are not paying attention could easily find themselves working as twenty-first century software janitors. This book describes the occupation of computer programming as it exists today and the profession of software engineering as it can exist in the future.



Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Addison Wesley; 1 edition (30 Jun 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321193679
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321193674
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 18 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 554,668 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

Can you deliver 90% of your software on time, within budget, and fully meet the user's real requirements? Would you like to? Best-selling author Steve McConnell provides a compelling argument for turning software success into an everyday habit by advancing the software profession itself—at the individual, organizational, and industry levels. Expanding on the contents of his previous book After the Gold Rush, the author dispels common myths of software development.

If you are a programmer, software developer, engineer, or work in software development, you should READ THIS BOOK.

Why do so many companies use outdated and ineffective software development practices? See page 103

What is "cargo cult" software development, and who uses it? See page 23

How large is the return on investment for better software practices? Can you prove it? See page 115

How do you create career paths for software professionals? See page 143

Which affects projects more--good personnel or good process? See page 135

How much difference is there between the worst software companies and the best? See page xv



0321193679B06052003

About the Author

Steve McConnell is CEO and chief software engineer at Construx Software, where he oversees their software engineering practices, teaches classes, and writes books and articles. Steve is the author of the computing industry classics Code Complete and Rapid Development, both winners of Software Development magazine's Jolt award for outstanding software development books for their respective years. He is also the author of Software Project Survival Guide and numerous technical articles. Steve was editor-in-chief of IEEE Software magazine from 1998 to 2002. 0321193679AB06052003

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Unlike McConnell's earlier books (Code Complete and Rapid Development are the 2 I have read) this is not so much a manual or handbook, it is more a collection of essays. As such it is perhaps even easier to read and more accessible than his other books, but even these I found very readable. It is also much lighter than his other books, this one runs to less than 300 hundred pages and weighs about 1/3rd as much as Code Complete!
I'm not sure who the book is aimed at, but I think it is a useful book to anyone in the business of producing software. The main theme McConnell pursues is that software engineering needs to be treated more as a true engineering discipline, for example in the same way that civil engineering or mechanical engineering. It would not be acceptable for a team to build a large building or design a new car unless the team consisted of qualified and certified engineers. Yet, in the software business it is not unusual for teams to have even no trained engineers. Engineering certification is almost unheard of amongst software developers, even though certification in specific skills is more common.
McConnell also makes persuasive and interesting points about the difference between software development and software engineering, and he makes the case that a true engineering approach is what is needed to help avoid massive cost and schedule overruns.
In the end the book may leave you with more questions than answers... the good thing for us and for the author is that his other books provide a lot of the answers! It is certainly a thought provoking book and this is a good thing, but I am not sure it really delivers what the title implies - for that you'll need to read his other books. For this reason alone I have judged it a 4 rather than a 5 star read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good 19 Mar 2004
By Jennifers Daddy TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This builds further on McConnell's previous work in a more accessible manner. This book is quite small and therefore easy to digest. It reads like a novel so isn't too technical.
I must admit I read it over one weekend but found I couldn't recall much of the advice although i'm certain it is one to revisit. I remember the fact that the information was valuable, so maybe it's just information overload?
The sections on professional developemnt were of particular interest to me. I often believe in software development that there is no where to go, you start as a junior then you become senior and that's it! This book outlines the way that our careers can progress in stages. I find these invaluable as i plan what i'm going to do over the next few years.
A worthy addition to the book collection, and well worth reading more than once.
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22 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
I am quite a fan of McConnell, particularly "Code Complete" has been a help and inspiration for many years. I still recommend it to my colleagues.
Now I 'm reading his new book and it's 2003 and in principle I still agree with everything the writer says. Pay attention to process, upgrade the skillset of software engineers, even to some degree the assertion that it would be nice if software writing would get some sort of official quality stamp so that trivial and not so trivial errors can be avoided.
But now it seems that this line of arguing is out of touch with the reality that programmers in a large part of the world find themselves in. It's not an issue of improving the software engineering processes, it's an issue of keeping ones current job or finding a job at all. And the newspapers don't help, with the typically journalistic shortsightedness predicting even worse times for employment in the IT sectors.
I also fail to see the huge difference between software engineering and other engineering professions. This difference is supposed to show in monumental amounts of errors in software that no one takes responsibility for and the relatively low educational requirements for becoming a software engineer. When I order a plumber (an authorized plumber with a license, that is) half the time they fail to do even a simple job correctly. When my car needs a repair it doesn't always succeed first time round. How is this different from software?
So my impression of this book today is that it talks about a reality that once was, but that no longer is. By comparison the book "Slack" by DeMarco is delightedly close to reality.
Quality really is 'perceived' quality, whoever does the perceiving. It is not absolute or quantifyable. So licensing software quality makes little sense.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Classic by Mr. McConnell 18 Feb 2004
By Damon Carr - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In this single book, Mr. McConnell has managed to summarize all of the arguments for 'building software the right way'. It is non-intuitive to individuals who have little or no training in software engineering, including programmers. When I used to interview VB programmers my first question was always 'Describe the Implements keyword'.

For many business people they feel that if you are not coding then you are not making progress, which is just plain wrong if you are in the early stages of a project. This often puts us (as project leaders) in the position of educating the client. This book is incredibly helpful for just such an endeavor. There are so many great points that I have used in helping me overcome the non-intuitive parts of development.

The statistics for our industry are abysmal (in terms of budgets over-runs, cancelled projects, etc.). If everyone read this book, and stopped coding for a few hours and actually THOUGHT more about the problem (especially for OO development - doing UML, CRC Cards or SOMETHING) in my opinion (after coding for 20 years - 13 of them professionally) our industry would be in much better shape. Even better would be if you can get your team using design patterns, pair programming (in many cases this is a good idea but not in all), agile development techniques, and other general `best practices'.

I am constantly under pressure to code before it is appropriate to do so. It is hard to explain to a CEO that you need time to do what they believe is 'drawing pretty pictures'. However, reducing dependencies (and when you have them, making them dependent on abstract classes and/or interfaces NOT concrete implementation), not to mention model/view/controller type patterns are the difference between turning on a dime (say adding a web services API in a few weeks) or spending 6 months on a rewrite.

I cannot say enough good things about this book.

Kind Regards,
Damon Carr, CEO
agilefactor
[...]
27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Philosophical, but short, sweet, and to the point 23 Dec 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is a brilliant, enjoyable explanation of the steps we can take to make our projects and software organisations run better.

To realize the benefit of this book, you must actually Read The Book, which some of the other amazon reviewers have apparently not yet been able to fit into their busy schedules. The reviewer of 'examples of bad management' never read past the first section, which is called 'The Software Tarpit.' It is indeed about why projects are poorly managed, but it is only 55 pages out of 225. Sections 2, 3 & 4 contain abundant specific suggestions about how to meet schedules, budgets, and other project goals.

The reviewer of 'heavy on opinion, light on content' says he reads 5 books a day. The book has numerous notes at the end of each chapter, and is impressively well researched. I surmise this reviewer missed the 'content' during his speed reading.

The reading-impaired agile revolutionaries criticise the book for not discussing agile. This book also does not discuss object-oriented design, the Rational Unified Process, East Indonesian basket weaving, or the tooth fairie because those are different topics. Apparently some people think that every book should discuss agile, regardless of the book's topic.

This book is short, sweet, and to the point. It does not tell you how to debug your current project (see the author's Code Complete for that), but it will tell you how you and your organisation can improve in the long run. My company has already realised benefits from adopting the ideas in this book, and it is mandatory reading for programmers and managers.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars High Hopes for Practical Solutions, Dashed on the Rocks of Pet Theories 9 Feb 2006
By Justin M. Stroud - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is a respectable endeavor, to be sure...the title itself makes it sound as if it's going to somehow define a profession in a way that makes us all known quantities. Isn't that what we like to work with anyways? Known quantities? Measurable results?

Unfortunately, there's a critical piece missing: while McConnell throws us some useful practices regarding the definition of our craft and the further measurement of our knowledge, it all sounds like a heap of pet theories and practices that never quite gel into something you can sink your teeth into.

Take for example his chapter devoted to the rigid, complex system he uses in his own company to measure the skill levels of its employees. I looked at it, read the different 'grades', but at the end wanted to know exactly how in practice this made their practice more effective. No dice...just 'here's how we do it, and it's the right way.' No why. No when. No who.

I lost a bit of respect for McConnell after reading this book...Code Complete is a landmark, but after reading

Professional Software Development I felt like he's lost his way amidst the mountains of white papers and the multitudes of 'best-practices.'
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Role of PEOPLE in software development 5 Sep 2003
By Jeff Olson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book explains what people, companies, and the software industry need to do to become more professional. The "Cargo Cult Software Engineering" essay was one of the best I've read -- great distinction between competence vs. work style. I enjoyed the chapter on personal attributes of programmers -- it helped to explain some of the programmers I've had trouble getting along with. The chapter about Construx's professional development program was useful too, and I'm going to try to adapt parts of that to use in my own company.
McConnell lays out what can be done at the individual level to become more professional, both now and in the future when educational programs become more readily available. The chapter on "quantifying personnel factors" was great -- McConnell clearly understands that software is produced by PEOPLE, and people have to come first.
There is also lots to do at the organizational level, most of which can be done right now. I agree with his argument that good people will naturally want to use good practices, and so the best organizations will want both good people and good practices. How to fully support people working at a truly professional level is the key question.
Overall, if you want to understand why sometimes software projects work and sometimes they fail, and if you want to understand what to do to make them succeed every time, this is a great book. Two enthusiastic thumbs up!
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It succeeds as a "vision" book 25 Nov 2004
By M. Young - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It is clear the author cares very deeply about his profession. He is searching for a way to increase software development professionalism. I did not view this book as a how to cook book. I viewed it as a vision book that offers suggestions on what needs to happen for future software development. Viewed in that light the book succeeds well. Unfortunately some of his analogies to other professions show lack of understanding for those professions, but otherwise the book is good food for thought.

If you are looking for a more concrete books on how to develop software now, he has a good reading list in his book Code Complete, second edition chapter 35. Also check his web site: [...]
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