The Design of Design: Essays from a Computer Scientist

Author: Frederick Phillips Brooks
Publisher: Addison Wesley, 2010
Pages: 448
ISBN: 978-0201362985
Aimed at: Everyone in software industry
Rating: 5
Pros: A highly enjoyable read
Cons: Not as focussed or incisive as Brook's magnum opus
Reviewed by: Mike James

When you have written a classic is it  possible to repeat the success?

 

Author: Frederick Phillips Brooks
Publisher: Addison Wesley, 2010
Pages: 448
ISBN: 978-0201362985
Aimed at: Everyone in software industry
Rating: 5
Pros: A highly enjoyable read
Cons: Not as focussed or incisive as Brook's magnum opus
Reviewed by: Mike James

When you have written a classic is it  possible to repeat the success?

If you don't know who Fred Brooks is then you have never read The Mythical Man Month - a ground-breaking and influential book published in 1975 and now, rightly, regarded as a classic on software project management. If you haven't read it then there is still much to enjoy between its covers. That book was based on Brooks' involvement in managing the IBM 360 operating system OS/360 - one of the biggest software projects of the time. His experiences with OS/360 also figure in this latest collection of writings on the science and art of design. 


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Brook's new book is designed with all the trappings of an intellectual coffee table book. It has a picture at the start of each chapter and relevant quotations. The style of writing isn't academic but it isn't plain and direct either. Overall the result is very readable and no matter what comments follow in this review you need to keep in mind that I enjoyed reading it.

The first part of the book is on the waterfall model and if you have read any books on methodology you will already know much of the content and conclusion - but it is a story well told and you will learn something if only about the history of the ideas and how things developed. If you are also an agile devote you will also find that much of what is said shadows the agile/extreme ideas without actually making direct reference.

The second part o the book is about collaboration and this was, for me the best part of the book. Its an interesting account of how collaboration works and be made to work better. Again the echo of agile ideas are there in the background. For example, Brooks points out the a collaboration of two is different and potentially the best - I couldn't help but think of pair programming.

The last part of the book is a collection of case studies and this is certainly the weakest part of the book. The examples used come from the OS/360 project but the majority come from the remodelling of the Brooks' house and these don't ring true and don't seem very relevant. They read more like retrospective justifications for what happened. Also physical design - which figures thought out the book - has elements that are generalisable to software design but it would have been better to have focused software case studies.

Overall the book is not without its flaws. Some readers might find the account lacks focus and rambles from on topic or example to another. I found nearly all of the examples, including the OS/360 examples which are admittedly dated, interesting and engaging. Occasionally I  also got the impression that Brooks was missing an idea or two - for example the agile philosophy - but the wealth of experience still manages to shine through.

Recommended but not as much as the The Mythical Man Month and more for the pleasure of reading it than for any important insights or learning experiences.


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Programming Rust

Author: Jim Blandy and Jason Orendorff
Publisher: O'Reilly
Date: Aug 2016
Pages: 400
ISBN: 978-1491927281
Print: 1491927283
Kindle: B077NSY211
Audience: Systems programmers
Rating: 4
Reviewer: Mike James
Rust - it's a hit language of the moment. The language we all love to love. So what could be bet [ ... ]



Beginning Flutter (Wrox)

Author: Marco L. Napoli
Publisher: Wrox
Pages: 528
ISBN: 9781119550853
Print: 1119550823
Kindle: B07YCVJW2D
Audience: Mobile developers
Rating: 4.5
Reviewer: Sanjay Kanade

Flutter is Google's SDK for writing mobile apps using the Dart language. It needs a good book - does this on [ ... ]


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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 24 November 2010 )