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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Agile and Iterative Development: A Manager's Guide
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Craig Larman
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Sadly it's true


Waterfall style projects do not work for software development.
We need to be responsive to a dynamic marketplace - embrace change, don't fight it. If you've struggled with rigid processes imposed on your software development team, or at the other extreme, if you've never known how some process can help your software team - then this is a great book for you.
Craig provides the evidence to support my view that software development is not a repeatable, conveyor belt production line. It is an exploratory endeavour. Sure there are constraints imposed on a software team - budget, resources, time. But they should be the boundaries that your team operates within. You should not try to be specific about the tasks your team will do, just be specific about their boundaries - what they won't do.
If you struggle to understand this concept, or struggle to make others understand, point them to Craig's chapter on evidence. It seems the software industry project managers have hoodwinked us into believing every small step in a project can and must be planned out, otherwise the team will fail. My experience, and Craig's research, supports the fact that this is incorrect. Projects can be run in an agile manner and will be successful.
I've been able to use this text to address other people's concerns, to support my observations and to help move a very rigid team to be more adaptive. In fact, I find it hard to locate the book now as it is being passed from one PM to the next! Hmmm, about time they bought their own copy...



Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: The Unified Software Development Process
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Ivar Jacobson, Grady Booch, James Rumbaugh
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
The worst book I have ever had the displeasure of reading.


This book is really a long-winded re-iteration of the obvious. Some sound engineering practices are described in the the book. But, they are not new, and they could easily have been described in 50 - 100 pages instead of almost 500 pages. To make things worse, the book is written in a dull style.
This book also tries to teach some UML from a project manager perspective. The result is not very pedagogic. To learn UML I recommend a book on UML (like "The Unified Modeling Language User Guide" or "UML Distilled") for both project managers and programmers.
If you are looking for information on how to run software projects or on sound software development processes I would recommend "Rapid Development" by Steve McConnel and "Software Project Survival Guide" (also by Steve McConnel). "Rapid Development" provides a better description of the iterative development processes, together with a wealth of other useful information not found in "The Unified Software Process".
I am concerned by the way that the artifacts (documents, models) are presented. There are long lists of artifacts presented as the result of each work-flow and of each phase. I understand that this must be adopted to each organization and each product type. But there is a risk that organizations adopting to "The Unified Software Development Process" end up as bureaucratic monsters, producing documents instead of software. Unfortunately the present "guru" status of the three authors will probably increase this risk.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: PMP Certification for Dummies
Publisher: For Dummies
Authors: Peter Nathan, Gerald Everett Jones, Peter Nathan, Gerald Everett Jones
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Greatest time saver. Easy to spot what?s important


This is the easiest of all the cert books to read.
Although the PMBOK Guide is organized along the lines of skills sets called the nine Knowledge Areas, the exam is organized along the lines of the five Process Groups. That provides a linear flow through the project lifecycle, which is how I work. This book (and the less complete ISBN 0782141064) are both based on how the exam is structured, rather than on the PMBOK Guide's structure. While this organization can be confusing to beginning project managers, PMI repeats over and over that these processes all connect, overlap and interact with each other. The PMBOK Guide was originally written by a bunch of engineers who really liked the idea of feedback loops and they understood that these processes happen simultaneously. So, in order to pass the exam, you have to think along the timeline of the project lifecycle as well as the Knowledge Areas. Otherwise, you'd miss every question "what do you do first?"
1. The familiar For Dummies icons make it easy to spot important information.2. The answers are the most complete of any of the cert books. The questions are well thought out and representative of what is on the exam.3. The CD has a study schedule (Microsoft Project template file) that provides a detailed roadmap to keep you on track. They suggest that you use this schedule and monitor your progress using Earned Value Analysis. That way you can practice the EV metrics that are on the exam.
Thanks, it's a great help! And it's the best value of any of the books in the category.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Thinking in Java (3rd Edition)
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR
Authors: Bruce Eckel
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
The Java Master Book


I come from a procedural language background, and much of the object-oriented concepts and terminology are new for me. I've read and worked through other books (of the "Teach Yourself ..." variety), and I've come away still trying to piece together the overall framework with little success. This book is excellent for providing you with the concepts of what OOP is and how it relates to Java.