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Ship it! A Practical Guide to Successful Software Projects Paperback – May 1, 2005

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Editorial Reviews


"It’s rare to have this much fun reading a book about software. The ideas are smart, relevant, and fundamental. I can be a better programmer today because of the things I read today."

—Joe, Fair Developer

"A great book! The authors have done a great job in presenting the subject in a neutral way and avoiding any methodology-oriented traps."

—Roberto Gianassi,  IT Consultant

"This is fantastic stuff. As I started reading, I almost fell out of my seat because the project I’m on right now is going through exactly the hurt you describe and would benefit greatly from material just like this."

—Matthew Bass, Software Engineer

About the Author

Jared Richardson is a developer-turned-manager who thinks a good day is having everything delegated so that he can sneak away and actually write code. He specializes in using off-the-shelf technologies to solve tough problems, especially those involving the software development process. With more that 10 years of experience, Jared has been a consultant, developer, tester, and manager, including Director of Development at several companies. He currently manages a team of developers and testers at SAS Institute, and is responsible for a company-wide effort to use test automation to improve the quality of SAS products. Will Gwaltney is a software developer with over 20 year's experience. In that time he hasn't quite seen it all, but he's seen most of it (and a lot of it hasn't been pretty). He's worked at both large companies and start-ups in the fields of electronics CAD, networking, telecommunications, knowledge representation, and web-based planning and scheduling for the enterprise. Will currently works on test automation at SAS Inc., the largest privately-owned software company in the world.

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Product Details

  • Series: Pragmatic Programmers
  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Pragmatic Bookshelf; 1 edition (June 11, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0974514047
  • ISBN-13: 978-0974514048
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #634,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Ernest Friedman-Hill VINE VOICE on June 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
Ship It! is both a guide to running successful software projects, and a life preserver for projects that are failing. If you've ever worked on a troubled software project, you know what it feels like. The frustration. The sense of impending doom. The urge to polish your resume. We've all been there. So have Richardson and Gwaltney -- and they're offering to leverage their considerable experience to help save you and your project from this fate.

There's not much material that's truly new between these covers, but the presentation and point of view is refreshing. It's a rare book that speaks convincingly to both developers and managers, but this one does a good job. The book describes many of the practices of agile development -- continuous integration, automated testing, lightweight planning -- and combines them into a simple but powerful description of an approach to building software they call "Tracer Bullet Development." But the book doesn't assume you're going to do everything the authors suggest: they expect you to try just one thing as a time.

My favorite part of the book is compendium of one-page essays on common problems software projects have, and how to apply the principles and practices from the book to solve them. Unlike some other rather strained "antipatterns" catalogs that I've read, this section feels very practical and usable.

If your shop has trouble shipping quality software on time -- and let's face it, most do -- then this book is for you. If you're a manager, I'd say that doubly so.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Duff HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
I haven't had the chance to read and review any books from the Pragmatic Programmers series. I decided to change that with the book Ship It! - A Practical Guide to Successful Software Projects by Jared Richardson and William Gwaltney Jr. After finishing the book, I put in an order for a few more titles. If all the titles are this practical and useful, I'll be a happy camper...

Contents: Introduction; Tools and Infrastructure; Pragmatic Project Techniques; Tracer Bullet Development; Common Problems and How to Fix Them; Tip Summary; Source Code Management; Build Scripting Tools; Continuous Integration Systems; Issue Tracking Software; Development Methodologies; Testing Frameworks; Suggested Reading List; Index

Richardson and Gwaltney don't try to add yet another methodology that guarantees your life will be rosy. Basically, that methodology doesn't exist. But there are a number of best practices that they've found from real-world experience, and they share those here. The key word is "practical" (hence the "Pragmatic" part of the series title). Even if you can't necessarily adopt all of their suggestions, you can easily take one or two and merge them into your routine. Once they've changed the way you work, you'll be ready for a few new changes.

For instance, they are really big on automated build processes for your software development that requires a compile and packaging process. Having the process done manually means that it won't get done as often as it should, or it will be machine dependent. Taking the time to learn something like Ant can dramatically improve your effectiveness and productivity. Same with using continuous integration software.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Eric J. Starr on July 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
If you are satisfied with being an average developer then this book isn't for you.

It is a good thing to know how to develop great software. It is better to know how to help others become great software developers. This is what the writers of "Ship It!" have done. They have given practical ways for average or good developers to become great at what they do and to begin to help their team develop top level, extremely well tested, reliable software that requires minimal maintenance.

One of the best things I could say about this book is that it is practical. It doesn't come at you with some high level theory or preach at you with an unrealistic unattainable development methodology (they are sometimes unattainable because they require other unwilling participants). This book gives you a number of real things you can begin to do even if no one else is willing to play along. As you make a few of these practices habits, the benefits of the practices become self-evident to the rest of your team and they begin to duplicate the practices that they see you doing. Then your test team, your maintenance team and your customer support team (you do have those teams, right??? OK...Stop laughing... I know most of you wear these hats as well) will love you because you have made their jobs easier. All the customer knows is that this software that you have developed is exactly what they expected and doesn't break anywhere near as many times as the 5 or 6 other applications that they routinely use.

My favorite part of the book is Chapter 5 "Common Problems and How to Fix Them." Also pay close attention to the sections on "Build Automatically" and "Review all Code." The book doesn't just tell you "code reviews are good.
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