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The Agile Samurai: How Agile Masters Deliver Great Software (Pragmatic Programmers) Paperback – October 5, 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This book is very well written. Rasmusson uses an entertaining writing style that makes it pleasant to read from beginning to end. What I like the most is the author experience. The way he presents the topics dealing with role assignation (chapter 2) and reality in agile planning (chapter 8) is simply remarkable."

—Computing Reviews

"The Agile Samurai is the book I wish I’d read before I started my last agile project. The chapters on agile project inception alone are worth the price of admission."

—Joshua Kerievsky, Founder and CEO, Industrial Logic, Inc.
 

"The Agile Samurai is exactly the book you and your team need to understand and deliver using the agile method. It makes the concepts tactile for everyone from the highest level of leadership to the people pushing forward on the front lines."
—Jessica Watson, Business Analyst,Shaw Communications

 

About the Author

As an experienced entrepreneur and former agile coach for ThoughtWorks, Jonathan Rasmusson has consulted internationally, helping others find better ways to work and play together. When not coaching his sons' hockey teams or cycling to work in the throes of a Canadian winter, Jonathan can be found sharing his experiences with agile delivery methods at his blog, http://agilewarrior.wordpress.com.

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Product Details

  • Series: Pragmatic Programmers
  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Pragmatic Bookshelf; 1 edition (October 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934356581
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934356586
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #247,674 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Thomas Knierim on July 25, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Over the last ten years, I've been working with teams with different degrees of commitment to the agile process, ranging from non-existing to quite strong. I was looking for a text that summarises agile methodology to help me formalise and articulate my own experiences, and of course to enhance my knowledge of some of the finer points of agile practices. I have to admit that this book did not meet my expectations. The first eighty pages up to chapter six are mostly about project inception and read like a prolonged introduction. From chapter six onwards, the author finally comes to the point and discusses the core concepts of agile processes, so the book does get better with increasing page numbers. Unfortunately, Scrum isn't discussed at all, instead Kanban is introduced in chapter eight. The discussion of typical technical processes, such as refactoring, TDD, and continuous integration is compacted into several brief chapters at the end of the book.

The writing style is very informal; the author uses a conversational tone throughout the book. Almost every page contains illustrations, which makes it an easy and quick read. The style of the book is comparable to the Head First books. It left me with the the impression that I sat in an all-day meeting where someone said a lot of intelligent things to which everyone else agreed. Unfortunately, not many of these things seemed radically new or thought-provoking, so I fear I won't remember many of them next month. Of course, this may be entirely my own fault. I prefer a more formal, concise, old-school language. I also prefer dense and meaty text books with lots of diagrams, numbers and formulas. In return, I can dispense with stick figures, pictograms, and even with Master Sensei (a guru character used in the book).
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Format: Paperback
I knew I was going to like The Agile Samurai from the first page:

"Agile is a way of developing software that reminds us that although computers run the code, it's people who create and maintain it."

Jonathan Rasmussen, the Other JR, has written a great, short, to-the-point book about how to move a project to agile. From the beginning "Deliver something of value every week" to the Agile Principles sprinkled throughout the book, such as "The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams" to the conversations between the student and the Sensei, you can learn how to move your project from where it is to agile.

Some pieces I particularly like are:

1. All of Chapter 4, Seeing the Big Picture, where Jonathan suggests we need an elevator pitch for our project. I'm stealing this idea right away.
2. Chapter 8: Agile Planning, Dealing with Reality. After a humorous side trip with Murphy and his Law, Jonathan introduces us to burndown, burnup, and team velocity charts.
3. Chapter 15: Continuous Integration: Making it Production-Ready. What if you only had one hour to deploy your product. Could you? Jonathan walks you through what you need to do to make the code production ready.

Jonathan has great advice about how to know how agile you are:

"And don't forget. It's not about "being" agile. It's about building great products and delivering world class service to your customers."

This is a great book. If you are thinking of starting an agile journey, do yourself a favor and get this book. You will not be sorry.
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Format: Paperback
What this book isn't: boring theory about agile methodology and history of "how did it all start". This book is neither source of THE secret of agile software development.

What this book is: a great and valuable source of reality connected simple facts that would allow you to re-evaluate how you build your software. Inception Deck is a great tool to kick off a project. Project planning and execution from agile point of view and with developers in mind are chapters that logically explain how to address everyday issues on traditional projects. This book is about achieving targets by going with simplicity.
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The Agile Samurai is an introduction to Agile Development... well... mostly the Agile project management parts of Agile development. It is a good introduction that covers the basics in an easy to follow way and it is even at times... funny... though less times than it attempts to be :P

The book consists for 5 parts: 1) Introduction Agile, 2) Project Inception, 3) Project Planning, 4) Project Execution, and 5) Creating Software. Each of these parts cover what you would expect of them. Most major agile techniques are covers, such as chartering, stories, relative estimation, visual management and much more. The descriptions are easy to follow, though I felt at times it was a bit too verbose. (perhaps the attempts of humor? :P)

The first 4 parts focus mostly on the "project management" side of Agile Development. I was a bit surprised by the amount of focus on inception and chartering, but I guess it is useful from the typical outsourced project perspective (which is what the author seems most familiar with). Only the last part focuses a bit on the agile development practices as it briefly introduces unit testing, refactoring, and test-driven development.

All in all, the Agile Samurai is a decent introduction to Agile Project Management. It is a good first book on Agile development... but probably not a good second book as it doesn't go very deep in the subjects. There were times that I felt the author could have done a better job though. One example is his role description of the roles in a team.... after explaining that in Agile teams there are no real roles. I felt this was a very mixed message and the author could have been a lot clearer on this and how the teams work. There were other examples, but this one stands out. Therefore, I'll go for 3 stars (almost 4).
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