Book review: Ship It! A Practical Guide To Successful Software Projects

Once more, a Pragmatic Bookshelf book, this time on release management. In this book, I expect a wide intersection with other books on agile processes, but perhaps with less depth than other books.

Content and opinions

If I let out the introduction, there are four main parts in the book: agile techniques, some general advice, a new process and finally some tips on general problems.

So the first part is mainly a small repeat of some usual agile techniques: automate your build, test it, and keep a way of listing what you have to do. Nothing fancy at all, just basic plain things you should/must do.

Part two groups general advice on team work, in fact it is several pieces of advice on how communication can be set inside a team. As before, it’s pragmatic agile tips. Depending on your team, I think you may apply more or less of them, but mainly The List is what a roadmap is all about, a leader knows where the team should go, … All this leads to the next part, putting everything together.

Part three is a simple straightforward agile process. Instead of a bottom up development, it starts with a very general framework and goes down as you finish stuff in The List. At least, you have a product that satisfies the client at each stage, even if a lot of things are just mocks.

Finally, the last part tackles what can keep a team to ship a product in time. Basically, it turns up that The List is the main subject of the provided tips. They cover ways of ensuring that a team can understand what the previous parts are about.

All things considered, the process exposed in the book is a lightweight agile process that doesn’t want to be as complex/robust/… as XP or SCRUM or RUP, but it can be just as efficient. Sometimes a light process can be even more productive than a complex one that one may not fully embrace. Unfortunately, the tools in the annex, samples of the tool categories that you must use, are out-dated, and you should try find more current tools (for instance for VCS, try Mercurial or Git, for web portals, consider TRAC or Redmine, …)

Conclusion

The book is a good sum-up of all basic agile techniques. Although the annexes are out-dated, the actual content is still very up to date. If you want to get rapidly started and have an agile/first process, this book is for you.

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