The Mythical Man-Month Essays On Software Engineering

One of the chapters is the controversial and widely read essay "No Silver Bullet--Essence and Accident in Software Engineering." This very enjoyable and highly readable essay provides great insight into the nature of software development, specifically, what makes it so challenging, and why attempts to invent a "silver bullet" that will solves those changes are doomed to fail.

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"The Tar Pit" is short, but does a nice job describing what makes software development both difficult as hell and fun as hell. This is a great passage (especially the first sentence): "Observe that for the programmer, as for the chef, the urgency of the patron may govern the scheduled completion of the task, but it cannot govern the actual completion.

The title essay alone will convince the casual reader why this book has endured. An omelette, promised in two minute, may appear to be appear to be progressing nicely.

Every part must even use the same techniques in syntax and analogous notions in semantics.

Ease of use, then, dictates unity of design, conceptual integrity." (pp 42, 44) This anniversary edition also contains four additional chapters from the original edition.

\ the mythical man-month Essays on Software Engineering Frederick P. Brooks, Jr., is Professor and Chairman of the Com- ^ i ( puter Science Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. ISBN 0-201-00650-2 ABCDEFGHIJ-HA-7987654 To two who especially enriched my IBM years: Thomas J.

He is best known as the ''father of the IBM Sys- tem/360," having served as project manager for its development and later as manager of the Operating System/360 software project during its design phase. Watson, Jr., whose deep concern for people still permeates his company, and Bob O.Anyone who has ever had to face the questions: "When can you have it done? But when it has not set in two minutes, the customer has two choices--wait or eat it raw. "The cook has another choice; he can turn up the heat.The result is often an omelette nothing can save--burned in one part, raw in another." (p 21) Perhaps my favorite essay, though, is "Aristocracy, Democracy, and System Design." In this essay, Brooks argues for the importance of the "conceptual integrity" of systems, meaning that the best systems have a unified consistency about them, making them easier to understand, use, and maintain.More often, project failures are caused by things such as faulty or missing requirements, unreasonable schedules, project management mistakes, staffing errors, politics, and poor choices of technology/platform.(Another good book, Software Runaways by Robert Glass, is a good confirmation of that statement.) Even if in your current job function you do not have control over such things as requirements, scheduling, and staffing, you are still directly affected by these realities, and a deeper understanding of their dynamics is beneficial for at least three reasons: Besides these benefits, there is a lot of fun to be had because, inevitably, you will laugh knowingly as you remember a past project (or your current one) that has fallen into the exact pitfalls Brooks describes.If a book about software development has sold over 250,000 copies (almost unheard of for technical books) and after 28 years is still in print, and selling well, it's a pretty good bet that it has something significant to offer.Indeed, Frederick Brooks's The Mythical Man-Month has much to offer today's software practitioner, not to mention today's software manager.Earlier, he was an architect of the IBM Stretch and Harvest computers. Brooks has participated in the establishment and guiding of the Triangle Universities Computation Center and the North Carolina Educational Computing Service. Evans, whose bold leadership turned work into adventure.He has pub- lished Automatic Data Processing, the System/ 360 Edition of Auto- matic Data Processing, and chapters in several other books. Courtesy of the Photography Section of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechan- ical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher. Digitized by the Internet Archive in 2013 with funding from Gordon Bell OOfred Preface In many ways, managing a large computer programming project is like managing any other large undertaking — in more ways than most programmers believe.Reading the book 28 years after its initial publication, it becomes apparent that the software development challenges the book describes are still as much--or more--of a challenge today as they were when these words were first written, and that the Brooks's conclusions and advice have, for the most part, withstood the test of time equally well.The essays in The Mythical Man-Month cover a variety of topics, from management-related topics such as estimating and process, to lower level design and construction topics.

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