Sunday, July 25, 2010

Book Review: Professional Software Development

I can understand how many people sound as though they were disappointed in Steve McConnell's Professional Software Development: Shorter Schedules, Better Projects, Superior Products, Enhanced Careers. It's not a "practical" book—like Code Complete, Rapid Development, or Software Estimation—that you can immediately put into practice and improve your software's code or schedules.

But whether or not you agree with McConnell's conclusions about how to "fix" software development by turning it into a profession—like engineering, medicine, or law—it does a good job highlighting some of the ongoing struggles in developing software.

Many other reviews point out that the stratification and specialisation advocated by McConnell seem out of touch with agile development, and I agree. On the other hand, agile development encourages "generalising specialists," not straight-up generalists.

Other reviewers have also pointed out that the ladder-like professional development program promoted by McConnell also seems overly-regimented, and I agree with that, too. On the other hand, if career progression depends on taking specific classes, publishing articles, or participating in conferences, that might be better than not being allowed time for any learning or professional development at all, which happens at some companies.

[To be continued in "Does 'Software Engineering' Need to be a Profession?"]

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