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Debugging the Development Process: Practical Strategies for Staying Focused, Hitting Ship Dates, and Building Solid Teams Paperback – August 1, 1994

4.2 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

In Debugging the Development Process, Maguire describes the sometimes controversial but always effective practices that enabled his software teams at Microsoft to develop high-quality software - on schedule. With the refreshing candor reviewers admired in Writing Solid Code, Maguire talks about what did and what didn't work at Microsoft and tells you how to energize software teams to work effectively - and to enjoy their work; why you might want to kick your star programmer off your team; how to avoid corporate snares and overblown corporate processes; which tiny changes produce major results; how to deliver on schedule and without overwork; how to pull twice the value out of everything you do; how to get your team going on a creative roll; and how to raise the average programmer level at your company.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 183 pages
  • Publisher: Microsoft Press (August 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556156502
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556156502
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,465,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The language is easy to read and the style contributes to fast and smooth reading. The book can also be read very fast because there is not enough new facts in the book to slow you down.
The book mainly explains the obvious (although too often ignored) practices that helps your development project: stay focused, avoid distractions, avoid interruptions, avoid wasting time, avoid unnecessary meetings (meetings are interruptions and far too often a waste of time), fix bugs early. The book has some stories to explain the above practices. But, the book has no hard facts to help you fight for the above practices in case you have a "pointy haired" boss.
In my opinion "Rapid Development" by Steve McConnel is a far better book. "Rapid development" has all the hard facts that "Debugging the development process" lacks. "Rapid development" also describes more practices and has a broader view of the development project that "Debugging the development process".
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Format: Paperback
This book is NOT about project management, it is about 1st line supervision. Of course, 1st line supervisors interface with management and this book addresses that some, but that doesn't address project management from a manager's view, just a supervisor's. You need to know who this book is for. It is for an experienced supervisor, someone who can spot the occasional errors. In this case the errors are strongly held but misplaced opinions. One error the author made was to call programmers lazy who read source code as part of a job (p. 50). That's a foolish statement. If you've ever debugged someone else's undocumented code, you have to read the source to even figure out what the code is supposed to do. He praises people who make snap decisions (p. 20). That's silly. It's better than no decision, but certainly not praiseworthy. And on pp. 113-115 he says to "Give Experts the Boot." Here he's parroting the "we need generalists" mantra that became popular about 5 or 6 or 7 years ago. I've seen a very noticible drop in quality all over the industry. One example, when one company I worked at got rid of their Ph.D. from MIT who did thermal analysis and replaced him with a non-degreed mechanical designer who was trying to run thermal analysis software, not even having a clue on the intricacies of thermal analysis and design. At this point the thermal design of their computers became a joke. Maybe it would work and maybe it wouldn't. Don't get me wrong. The author has a number of good points. E.g., fix bugs ASAP (p. 128), don't let them pile up for later. Set your coding priorities (pp. 17-19), and do proper postmortems (pp. 78-80). Very good book, but you must beware of his errors. If you are young, read this again after 10 to 15 years.
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By A Customer on May 13, 1999
Format: Paperback
Steve talks about all of the problems I've found common in the software development industry that stress out the development team. His discussions of problems he has faced in his own development efforts provide valuable tips on handling the pressures from management, staff and deadlines. I highly recommend this book for anyone who assumes a leadership role, not just in the software industry, but in all industries where pressure and deadlines exist.
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By Lee on February 1, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is a good book on software development process improvements. Steve talks about practical strategies for staying focused, hitting ship dates and building solid teams. These strategies are common-sense but are often ignored by managers, project manager and technical leads.
Chapter 1 talks about "laying the groundwork" -- priorities work, establish goals, coding priorites. How true this is ... how often have we started development when we are unsure of what the management wants to achieve out of it.
Some of the other strategies include having 40 hour week(hmm ... reminds me of Extreme Programming) and about the danger of having working 12 hours per day. He also spoke about ensuring personal growth in dividuals, and how it directly helps the company.
This book is written in simple english, straight to the point. To everyone doing software development, this is a must-read!!!
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Format: Paperback
Although the focus is specific to software development, this book is a good primer for Project Leaders, Team Members and Managers on overall results oriented performance. Key points covered:
· Focus on project goals and priorities · Simple process changes yield big results · Attack the right problem · Features must be strategic for the product · Look ahead, don't let foreseeable problems surprise you · Effective meetings end with decisions and minimize disruptions to work · Post-mortems are effective if they answer how to fix problems · Schedules are best if milestone driven, giving the team a sense of "wins" · Grow your people, focus on immediate opportunities for feedback, avoid end of season coaching · The product is everything that's in the box · Leverage · Productivity
I liked the real-world examples, and the varied experiences cited from within the walls of a respected development organization.
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Format: Paperback
Maguire's book is a very gentle handbook to guiding software projects. Relatively light and fast-paced, it can be read in just a few hours. His insights and tips about team management are definitely helpful, but my feeling is that he never attacks the difficult problems of management.

In a nutshell, his advice is to 1) free up the engineers' time by reducing unnecessary paperwork, 2) eliminate any unnecessary features, 3) slip ship dates to ensure quality, and 4) increasing training for under-performing engineers. He advises against 1) adding extra engineers when the project looks to be in trouble, 2) forcing engineers to work long hours to hit ship dates, 3) schedule development activities without a clear milestone plan in mind, and 4) holding on to superstar engineers who need room to grow.

These ideas are very good, of course. It's important to keep engineers from being overworked and to keep product quality as high as possible. But there is a limit to how far Maguire's tips can take you.

Schedule slips and dropped features seem like an easy thing to do when you're just talking about it, but what can you do when the command comes down from the upper echelons of management that you must ship or die trying? Maguire does get one thing right on this count, he describes teams where a third of the engineers (the best ones, of course) quit the company after the project completes.

What happens when an engineer is severely underperfoming and is holding the team back? Continue providing that person training? Maguire's teams, luckily for him, are made up of well-trained, highly focused engineers who, given the chance, can work on a product for 8 hours a day.
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