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The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition (2nd Edition) Paperback – Aug 2 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 2 edition (Aug. 2 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201835959
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201835953
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15.5 x 1.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 408 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #12,939 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A. Imran on May 29 2004
Format: Paperback
If you have managed some software projects or have worked on some non-trivial software systems, undoubtedly you have faced many difficulties and challenges that you thought were unique to your circumstance. But after reading this book, you will realize that many of the things you experienced, and thought were unique problems, are NOT unique to you but are common systemic problems of developing non-trivial software systems. These problems appear repeatedly and even predictably, in project after project, in company after company, regardless of year, whether it's 1967 or 2007.
You will realize that long before maybe you were even born, other people working at places like IBM had already experienced those problems and quandries. And found working solutions to them which are as valid today as they were 30 years ago.
The suggestions in this book will help you think better and better manage yourself, and be more productive and less wasteful with your time and energy. In short, you will do more with less.
Some of Brooks insights and generalizations are:
The Mythical Man-Month:
Assigning more programmers to a project running behind schedule, may make it even more late.
The Second-System Effect:
The second system an engineer designs is the most bloated system she will EVER design.
Conceptual Integrity:
To retain conceptual integrity and thereby user-friendliness, a system must have a single architect (or a small system architecture team), completely separate from the implementation team.
The Manual:
The chief architect should produce detailed written specifications for the system in the form of the manual, which leaves no ambiguities about any part of the system and completely specifies the external spcifications of the system i.e.
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I found this book amazing for a software manager like me. Because of Brook's real-life experience, I feel his teachings are accurate and to-the-point. One thing that astounds me is that, although 40-years old, the book is still relevant. It has some recommendations that were valid in the past, like the use of microfiche to store information, but the concepts and ideas can still be applied to today's software development proceeses.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 15 2002
Format: Paperback
A lot of programmers really love this book. It will arm you with a dozen good juicy quotes that will support your argument that your manager is an idiot.
Lets say you are late and another programmer is assigned to help you out - you can simply point to this book and explain how adding more programmers to a late project will just make it later. If that one doesn't fit. you can surely find another one that does.
If you liked "Catcher in the Rye" or "The Peter Principle" you may like this book too.
Software management is hard - mostly because there is a great deal of variation in the talent and productivity of computer programmers.
This book is a fun read - and food for thought. And in its defense I must admit it has changed the way I think about large software projects.
But sadly, beyond the fun quotes and maxims (which often contradict each other) there is not much to help you get the job done.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By David Forthoffer on Jan. 13 2001
Format: Paperback
This was one of the most valuable books in its day (1975). It revealed huge mistakes in one of the largest programming efforts ever, and suggested mostly-reasonable improvements.
But software engineering has advanced a lot since then, even if the software industry hasn't. For example, Brooks' sole team-level improvement is the suggestion to use Harlan Mills' chief programmer teams, while many such improvements have been found since then. And Brooks entirely ignores the main defect of the chief programmer team---the difficulty of finding chief programmers!
(As an aside, a chief programmer team works fine now with a chief programmer, a college grad, and modern tools. Code ought to be written so a college grad can maintain it, and this approach helps ensure that. The college grad can also flesh out test cases and support in other ways. But there's still the problem of finding the chief programmer...)
Brooks approach is generally, "We did that wrong. We should have done it this way, for these logical reasons." But there are often several solutions to a problem, all having logical reasons. Empirical data is needed to choose between them. Brooks rarely mentions alternate solutions, and almost never offers emperical data.
A far more valuable book is Steve McConnell's "Rapid Development". This well-researched and organized book quotes data to confirm problems, discusses solutions with associated emperical data, and recommends solutions.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Dosser on Feb. 1 2002
Format: Paperback
There was a time when this book rocked. That time has passed. Although there is still useful info here you have to slog through so much old useless references, stories and crap that it seems hardly worth the effort. Particularly when there are other more useful books that I can invest my efforts in.
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By David Baron on April 29 2004
Format: Paperback
After reading this book, I was sad about the fact that the managing problems developers had during the "classical" days of coding are still prevalent in 21st century. The conclusion I got from the book was that the hardware side of computing as involved but the software side is not evolving in the same rate. It's a must-read for those who want to understand what a team project manager is supposed to do.
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