This is the book for those of us who've read all the standard works on classical software engineering methods and can't lose the suspicion that they're WRONG.
Software Craftsmanship: The New Imperative revealed the one important fact about how software engineering was derived from giant government projects in the 60's and 70's that I didn't know: those projects included building the hardware on which the applications would eventually run. The reason for the emphasis on long, detailed requirements and design documentation is that this was the best use of the dead time software engineers had while the machine and its compilers were being constructed. As soon as the box was ready an army of coders was given the detailed design documents and converted them page-by-page into source code.
Programmers who have ever wondered why they were being paid high salaries and then treated as mindless drones now have an historical explanation.
Pete McBreen isn't the first person to question standard procedures for developing commercial software. The Open Source movement has proven that high quality, useful software can come from developers using no specification documentation at all. The eXtreme and Agile methodologies have shown it is acceptable for specifications to change during the course of the project: Customers will be more pleased with the final product if they can revise their requirements as they see the product developing. So who could possibly be holding on to a methodology that is demonstrably inappropriate for modern small software groups developing commercial products? Mr. McBreen fingers managers whose pay and prestige depend upon head count. Turning every project into a relay race with analysts, designers, programmers and testers guarantees many billable hours while intellectual property is passed on from group to group. Preferentially hiring young, inexperienced programmers and capping the salary rate ensures a bloated staff with high care and feeding needs. It's a provocative assertion that will certainly engender debate. McBreen says he wants to join in the public conversation that already includes the voices of Richard Stallman, Linux Torvalds and Kent Beck. His intelligent analysis of the origins of classical software engineering and why it is no longer a good paradigm for commercial software development will help keep that conversation informed and productive, as well as lively. * Books mentioned by Mr. McBreen include: The Pragmatic Programmer by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas ISBN: 020161622X The Inmates are Running the Asylum by Alan Cooper ISBN: 0672316498
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