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Specification by Example: How Successful Teams Deliver the Right Software 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1617290084
ISBN-10: 1617290084
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

A UK based consultant, Gojko Adzic helps teams worldwide implement specification by example and agile testing practices. He has written two previous books on the subject and contributed to several open source projects supporting specification by example. Gojko is a frequent speaker at leading software development and testing conferences and runs the UK Agile Testing User Group.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Manning Publications; 1 edition (June 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1617290084
  • ISBN-13: 978-1617290084
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #118,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Yuriy Zubarev on February 12, 2013
Format: Paperback
One one hand, the book is not deep, reflective and well argued enough to be a timeless classic. One the other hand, it lacks concrete examples, steps and instructions to be a timely and actionable cookbook. It hangs in a midair between realms of inspirational and practical, touching on both and delivering on none.

I was really looking forward to read this book after hearing an interview with the author on Devnology podcast. It pains me to admit that reading it was not a time well spent. How could the author call his approach "Specification by Example" and offer no end-to-end examples that could be studied, evaluated and replicated? Please comment with a page number(s) for such examples if you disagree, and I will be more than happy to admit my blindness.
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Specification by Example is Gojko's third book on this subject. The first book, Fitness.net, was very technical and tool oriented. The second book, Bridging the Communication Gap, was a lot more coordination oriented. Now his third book, this one, he describes practices that teams he studied have used. From that perspective, this book is the follow-up of Bridging and might go a little fast if you are totally unfamiliar with the subject.

The book is divided in three parts. The first part is mainly introduction where Gojko describes the benefits and the key practices that will be described in this book. The second part is the actual description of the key practices and the third part are different case studies about different teams in different companies that have adopted specification by example.

The key practices that are introduced in part one and described in part 2 are:
- Deriving scope from goals
- Specifying collaboratively
- Illustrating using example
- Refining the specification
- Automating without changing the specification
- Validating frequently
- Evolving a documentation system

Deriving scope from goals discusses how customers main concert is not the software but solving a problem and developers shouldn't just expect to get the requirements from the customer but work together with them to help them to solve their problem in the best way. Specifying collaboratively covers how the customer and the teams will cooperatively define the specifications that the team will be implementing later. Illustrating using examples explains how these specifications can be described best by moving from abstract requirements to concrete examples.
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Format: Paperback
The book was well organized and timely. Most teams swerve to the extremes of the test automation path... this book advocates striking a pragmatic balance between spotty automated test coverage and a plethora of maintenance-magnet technical tests. SBE is shown as a treasure map.. and then each checkpoint is elaborated in a chapter. Lot of real world knowledge collated in this book...

Key take-aways:
* Don't let customers dictate solutions, instead challenge and extract scope/solutions via collaboration.
* Don't make test automation your end-goal. Move on to living documentation (although I have no clue on how to convince teams of the benefits).
* Keep specs readable by business users.
* Adapt your test suites to the current reality.. Fast feedback is key even for acceptance tests.

Nitpicks: Could have been a shorter book. I realized I don't like reading about case studies... maybe others would like it. I strafed over Part III. and at 50$ a pop, the price is a bit steep.
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Format: Paperback
When I started to read this book my impression was rather negative - looked rather as yet another piece of marketing blah-blah-blah. But when I reached the book core (chapters 2 - 10) I changed my mind completely. Yes, it's true that the book is oversaturated with success stories to which 7 of 16 chapters are devoted - but anyway it is one of the best books on a requirement collection and maintenance I ever saw.
It promotes a set of very important principles (listed in the chapter 2) that, strictly speaking, are not Specification-by-Example specific or even new - most of them are known from 70-s or early 80-s - but anyway are way too often overlooked or forgotten. To name a few of the (the most important as for me):
* Deriving Scope from Goals (a specification should answer not "how?" or even "what?", but "why?" and "what for?").
* Specification Refinement (specification should contain all necessary detail but nothing more and should be expressed on an appropriate level of abstraction).
* Specify Collaboratively - customers, business analyst, developers and testers should participate in the specification creation.
The above mentioned principles are a must for any successful software project - a project (save the most trivial one) seriously violating them can succeed by chance only.
If add to them two Specification-by-Example specific principles - Executable Specification (specification expressed as acceptance tests written not in the technical but in the business language) and Living Documentation (documentation consisting of or generated from automated acceptance tests) you may imagine which benefit Specification-by-Example may bring to your development.
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