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Making Software: What Really Works, and Why We Believe It 1st Edition
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About the Author
Andy Oram is an editor at O'Reilly Media, a highly respected book publisher and technology information provider. An employee of the company since 1992, Andy currently specializes in free software and open source technologies. His work for O'Reilly includes the first books ever published commercially in the United States on Linux, and the 2001 title Peer-to-Peer. His modest programming and system administration skills are mostly self-taught.
Greg Wilson has worked on high-performance scientific computing, data visualization, and computer security, and is currently project lead at Software Carpentry (http://software-carpentry.org). Greg has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Edinburgh, and has written and edited several technical and children's books, including "Beautiful Code" (O'Reilly, 2007).
Top Customer Reviews
The editors of this book do a great job of explaining what we can and can not expect from research. They also adopt a very pragmatic mindset, taking the point of view that appropriate practice is highly contextual. Research can provide us with evidence, but not necessarily conclusions.
Beyond the philosophical underpinnings, 'Making Software' outlines research results in a variety of areas. It gives you plenty to think about when considering various approaches on your team. The chapter 'How Effective is Modularization?' is worth the price of the book alone.
I recommend this book for anyone who wants to learn how to think rigorously about practice.
It would be a 5 star if someone like Steve McConnell had taken the entire contents of the book and written a single coherent text from it. As it is the quality of writing and explanations varies a lot from article to article. For example, in some of the articles the authors decide to show us the code or the SQL statements used to extract data. I found this distracting (who cares how they pulled data from a database?) because I wanted to get to the meat of each piece. I suspect the book could be 1/2 to 2/3 the size it is today with a rewrite.
Despite my reservations this is a very worthwhile book. If you sit down to read it you'll likely find it hard going in places: it's dense and detailed. But that goes somewhat with the territory. This isn't a book about evangelizing the latest development fad, it's about hard data on what does and does not work in software engineering.
Refreshing, if a bit long.
The articles are divided up into two sections. The first covering general principles reads a lot like a fairly advanced university level textbook and it got really tempting for me to give up on the book a number of times while reading that section which would have been a real pity since the second section covering "Specific Topics in Software Engineering" is far easier to read and a lot more interesting as well.
There is plenty of material in the second section of the book that will help any programmer to improve the way that they write programs. A lot of the alternatives presented are beyond the control of the programmer though and so it is far more important that the managers in charge of programming departments be made aware of the information that this book provides.
While at least some of the information that the book presents should be obvious to any experienced programmer - some of the information may also be completely unexpected. The authors of the articles have done an excellent job though of specifying exactly how they obtained the data upon which their conclusions are based and so it should be reasonably easy to work out just how applicable each should be to any given situation.
I recommend that those without the background to fully understand the material in the first part of the book persevere with it as whatever part of it that you do manage to comprehend will aid in your understanding of what the extremely useful second part of the book actually means.
I would have loved an up-to-date critical review of the existing literature of evidence based software engineering. However, the book does not give you that, but just the re-packaging of existing journal papers on software engineering. It is more effective (and sadly more enjoyable) to read the journal papers.
I rate the book with just 1 star because I think that the 5 and 4 stars ratings are completely disproportionate. Should we compare this book with "Code Complete", "The Mythical man-month", or "Programming Pearls"... I don't think so.
Disclaimer: I will never be able to write such a 1 star book :)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not meant for a programmer to have insights into producing software. It is more geared towards a computer engineering researcher...Published on February 10, 2014 by Flavio B. Botelho
It's a excellent book for all professionals in software engineering.
Making Software presents to each chapter a good experience for software industry and professionals in this... Read more
Note that this review is for the Kindle version! (Read on a Kindle Keyboard v3.3 using default settings.)
The kindle version of this book is very sloppy. Read more
Hearing about this book on a HN comment I picked it up only to be blown away. This book contains so much core good information that I would not be surprised to see it references... Read morePublished on September 9, 2011 by Benjamin C. Meyer
This is a must read book for people making software. It provides empirical evidence, insight and discussion around myths in the software development community. Read morePublished on February 22, 2011 by David Crow