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on 20 January 2005
This book delivers a practical, lightweight solution to requirements gathering and management. User stories can stand-alone in their own right, or can be used in conjunction with other agile methodologies or techniques. In fact Cohn gives examples of how user stories have been implemented in more traditional IEEE 830 projects with strict audit requirements.
User stories are an agile practice. Like other agile practices, they put the customer at the heart of the process. Agile practices work by communication; by involving the customer they focus on business value. Cohn keeps this underlying principle at the centre of his arguments for adopting user stories.
The book contains information not only about writing user stories but how they fit into, and drive, agile development processes. Cohn favours the SCRUM methodology and XP practices. These are referred to throughout the text and are summarized in the books Appendices.
At the end of each chapter a summary of responsibilities for developers and customers (along with a summary and a set of questions) are given. If nothing else these will act as a point of discussion, particularly with those who subscribe to the 'big up front design' school of thought.
All chapters are short and to the point. The sections are broken up well and the book gains from having a simple, working example given in part 4 showing how the techniques in the first 3 sections are applied to a practical situation.
My opinion is that this is an excellent book, anyone who is undertaking, or involved, an IT project would do well to read this. If nothing else it offers an alternative to 'traditional' waterfall-orientated processes, or no formal requirements management at all (beer-mat specifications).
As a personal recommendation, I would suggest looking at the other titles in the Addison Wesley Signature Series.
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on 29 August 2010
Like many other people in the IT world Ia m trying to get to grips with Agile, Scrum and how it can be applied in my workplace. The frustrating thing is that nearly every book I look at is based on web applications and this book is no exception. If, like me, you work in embedded systems then this book is of little use. However it is a good primer for Use Stories although it still leaves me unconvinced that Use Cases are not still the better way to go. The section on Acceptance testing was plain laughable. As a test manager I can say that the tests listed in the examples were incredibly basic, but even worse they didn't even cover some very important situations. I can say from experience that if only these acceptance tests were being applied by the user/acceptor it is extremely likely that you will end up with a system that is in theory accepted but completely unacceptable.

However, as I said a good primer and easy to read just left me wanting SO much more.
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on 24 July 2004
Mike Cohn is one of the founding members of the Agile Alliance. This long term commitment to the agile movement and agile thinking shows in his writings, and this book is no exception.
The book addresses user stories, it investigates the user story from different perspectives, explains thoroughly how to get to the point where the story reaches its conclusion. Then the book goes further. It expands the role of a story into planning of releases and products, making it the centre of software or product development.
A very readable book not only if you want to develop practices around stories, but also if you need an insight in the impact of implementing agile practices in your environment.
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on 21 July 2016
Pure Gold!

The first chapter will convince you why User stories are orders of magnitude better than the use cases you know and love.

Each of the subsequent short chapters is tightly focused and covers a key aspect of user stories (e.g. writing good stories, user profile mapping. using stories in planning and estimating etc.). As you go through the book, you can see how the different pieces of user stories fit together and how user stories themselves fit into a software development process. (The book itself leans heavily towards an agile process such as Scrum or XP although the exact process does not really matter)

Despite its directness and succinctness, it is a very engaging and thought-provoking book.

If you want to understand behaviour-driven development, specification-by-example or user story mapping (each of which is adequately in a book by a key populariser/practitioner of the respective technique) you should really read this book first. And even if you never practice any of those techniques, you should still read this book if you want to learn how to capture software requirements effectively in the modern, agile, test-driven world.

It is one of that crop of brilliantly written, painstakingly edited software engineering books written by luminaries in their fields, that were published by Addison-Wesley in the 2000s: Refactoring by Fowler, Test-Driven Deveopment by Beck, this book, Pattern-oriented software architecture I and II, Patterns of Enterprise Software Integration (Fowler et. al.) and many others. They remain as relevant and thought-provoking today as when they were first written.
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on 20 March 2004
Mike Cohn's book User Stories Applied is an excellent handbook on how to write User Stories and their role in agile software development. The book covers planning and tracking team velocity against the plan, including how to get started with these techniques. Mike really knows his subject and his book captures useful hints and tips for Customers and Developers based on practical experience with User Stories. I recommend this book to any team who want to get the best from the application of User Stories on their projects.
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on 20 February 2016
Well worth the investment and study this book. One thing I find is that people continuously make the mistake that User stories have to go into so much detail. Ive worked with Devs who refuse to take a story into a sprint because it isn't a black and white description of what the end result should be. There are a lot of top down monitoring managers and PMs who push scrum teams to write all requirements down to this level.

This is a good book for anyone to read who works in scrum or XP. Will help to set expectations of what a User story really is, and what a user story isn't. Uses very good, sound examples.
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on 28 January 2016
Definitely aimed more at the product owner and its a bit heavy going for me but very useful stuff in here.

I did learn a lot from teh book and I am seriously considering lending it to our product manager to help him "see the light" :)
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on 3 April 2009
I have been researching in the LEAN/AGILE spaces for the last year in regard to implementation in a large software development organization. This book brings a large amount of practical advice in regard to the use and disciplines of User Stories to replace more traditional 'behemoth' requirements gathering.

The book assumes no previous experience of AGILE processes and would indeed serve most admirably as a general introduction to AGILE analysis. As any sensible reader you will not subscribe to all arguments/points in the book, indeed it encourages you not to and adapt as necessary but places it in overall context that is incredibly simple and clear to understand. Including a chapter dedicated to describing some warning signals or 'bad smells' that something is amiss.

In short it tells you what User Stories are, how to fish for them, how to write good ones, how to estimate on them and how to manage them in terms of overall delivery - Cohn leaves no stone unturned. The writing style is friendly, informal, humorous in points and leaves you at the end with a strong feeling of accomplishment that comes with learning skills you know you are going to use again and again.

I heartily recommend this book for anyone - experienced Analysts to novice computer hobbyist's that are interested in streamlining their development efforts and truly trying to deliver what a customer wants - fantastic piece of work.
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on 22 September 2008
We're just launching a new project, and we'll be using Agile for the first time. I've found this book very useful for telling me exactly what I need to do when. The book is well structured and very readable. As a bonus, it doesn't just deal with how User Stories are Applied, but also has a good writeup about why they work, which I think you'll find useful if you want to convince your boss to try out Agile practices.

The case study at the end ties everything together nicely, my only critisim being that it ends rather abruptly. For a more extensive case study, covering several iterations, and not just the planning stage, see Mike Cohn's other book, Agile Estimating and Planning (Robert C. Martin).
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on 2 August 2010
I have never practiced any agile development, but I am in the process of understanding how it works - in practise. The examples that are used in this book are very well written.

I have skipped a few chapters here and there, because I'm going to cherry pick what I want to use. The way the book is written actually allows that.

Great book
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