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The Laws of Software Process: A New Model for the Production and Management of Software Hardcover – September 25, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0849314896 ISBN-10: 0849314895 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

Review

This book nicely consolidates and expands on the material in Phillip Armour's columns…This is a thought-provoking book that…has ideas about how to approach process design and implementation that could be useful in most situations.
Scott Duncan, Software Quality Press
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Auerbach Publications; 1 edition (September 25, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0849314895
  • ISBN-13: 978-0849314896
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,358,338 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Brad Appleton on March 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Some background for those who don't already know of Phil's work and his recurring column in CACM: One of the main premises of the book is that software is not a "product" in the usual production-oriented sense of the word, but that software is really a medium for capturing executable knowledge. He then uses this to derive that software is therefore not a product-producing activity but rather a knowledge creating and knowledge acquiring activity.
He then talks a little bit about the "Five orders of ignorance" and how, if software development is a knowledge acquiring activity, then it is also ultimately an "ignorance reduction" activity whereby we progressively reduce our ignorance of what the system is, what it needs to do, how it needs to do it, and how we need to do it and manage it.
Anyway - there is a lot more other GREAT stuff in the book (including the actual laws of software process as promised by the title of the book), but that should be enough background for the sections I'm about to summarize below...
Pages 97-159 are devoted to Agility and Agile methods. Chapter 6 is entitled "The Advent of Agile" and Chapter 7 discusses "Agile and the Orders of Ignorance" in detail.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A. Tiwana on January 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book develops the idea that the problem with the way we develop systems, software, and apps is that we think of software as a product. The author argues that that's part of what gets us into trouble. Think of the very-public software failures that led to massive business failures (and billions of dollars down the tubes): Denver Airport, London's TAURUS stock exchange, and the CONFIRM airline reservation project (forget the dot coms for now). This book proposes an alternative idea: Software must be thought of as a medium for storing knowledge. If you fail to embed the relevant and oft dispersed knowledge in a software application, that is the making of a fialure. The author then draws comelling linkages between this idea and the role f software processes, methodologies, and the norms that dominate the industry. The book is written in a very coherent way and unlike most technology books. It's actually fun to read. Think of it as the next delightful book to appear after Hal Varian's 1999 bestseller "Information Rules." The ideas that the author develops appeared in thier preliminary form in several columns in Communications of the ACM. Here, those ideas are extnesively developed. The sixty dollar price tag might dissuade some, but a quick scan in the library is going to be sufficient to convince anyone interested in software development and IT management about the value of giving this book a permanent spot on thier bookshelf. Strongly recommended. Must have.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By K. Victor Volle on November 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I like his theory that there are five "Orders of Ignorance with regard to "knowledge". Take e.g. the "Second Order Ignorance" (2OI): "I have 2OI when I do not know that I do not know something" and "3OI" defined as: "I have 3OI when I do not know a suitable efficient way to find out that I do not know that I do not know something".

And from that starting points Armour analyses (Software) projects and which Order of Ignorance they fall into - or better - their participants. It's quite an eye opening way to think about my attitude towards new projects, to check (probably afterwards) which Order of Ignorance I displayed. But the rest of the book leaves a strange feeling of "thinnness". To many recapitulations , to much stuff I have already read elsewhere (Gerald Weinberg or Alistair Cockburn cross my mind). Not that they are so much better but if you - as me - have read them first, they seem much fresher much more original. So I am tempted to say to Philip Armour: "Everything has been said, but not yet by everyone".

But to be fair this book is a collection articles previous published as a regular column in the Communications of the ACM, so some repetition and some superficality might be due to the restraints of writing such a column.

Anyway the book is fun to read and you find the occasional interesting insight or quote, like e.g. "'Organizations should create an approved documented process' [...] sounds to me like a license to kill trees".
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
While this book is focused on the process of developing software, the main concepts are applicable to almost any kind of useful work; especially knowledge work. The author very deftly introduces the idea of orders of ignorance; a means by which you can evaluate a given problem in terms of what you know and don't know, and don't know that you don't know.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author's extensive software experience shows in this book that offers some thought-provoking ideas and approaches for software development. Mr. Armour also makes some very interesting observations on the role of process, models, and teams in the context of developing innovative software systems in the current information technology age.
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