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on December 6, 2003
This is an excellent textbook for software developers with sufficient experience and discipline to produce professional software. It is not a philosophical treatise or a book on skills. It is not to be read casually before bedtime. In order to get something out of it, you must carry out the assignments.
The PSP training is an iterative process, slowly enhancing your process. The PSP is all about gathering data, devising improvements, and seeing the improvements through. The assignments in the book are challenging enough to require some design and have enough lines of code that you can gather data.
Over the course of the book, you'll make up to six enhancements to your proces, to the point that you have the experience to develop your own processes. If you carry out the book assignments, you'll also have some basic tools for measuring your software (lines of code counters) and process (statistical software).
In order to be effective with the PSP (or software in general), you need to follow good software design practices. The PSP enables you to capture the data that show this. Good design, though, is outside the scope of this book.
This book was the textbook for a PSP course for engineers I just completed. The course was a lot of work. In order to get something out of it, I had to be disciplined. In order to get something out of the book, you'll need to be very disciplined because you won't have the structure of a class to ensure you carry out your assignments. The PSP does not work without discipline to capture good time and defect data and to follow the process improvements.
If you have successfully learned the PSP process, be it in a formal classrom setting or through this book, you will be able to give estimates of size and time that are +/- 10% with a confidence of 70%. Of course large projects require larger processes than the Personal Software Process--those are outside the scope of this book. For an industry that is plagued by over-estimates, this is an excellent first step for engineering at the individual level.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon April 21, 2001
This book's title contains two key words that are woefully missing from most development projects: "discipline" and "engineering". With this book Mr. Humphrey introduced the personal software process (PSP), which subsequently spawned the team software process (TSP). Although the material is over 6 years old and does not seem to have gained wide acceptance in commercial development and project environments, it provides a roadmap to effectively integrating the increasingly popular extreme programming (XP)approach that was developed by Kent Beck.
How does PSP align to XP? Both approaches focus heavily on project planning and estimating, and controlling quality, cost and schedule. Both approaches also use metrics as a baseline and past performance to predict future productivity and quality during the planning and estimation phases of new projects. Moreover, both approaches impose a rigorous discipline at a low level in the development process - PSP at the individual level and XP at the 2-person paired team level. An excellent book on XP that supports this premise is Planning Extreme Programming by Kent Beck and Martin Fowler.
The methods that Mr. Humphrey proposes in this book are the building blocks of an effective XP organization because much of the metrics he proposes for capture, analysis and tracking are the very ones that are key to XP. These methods add the "discipline" into the development process, and "engineering" into the quality approach to any development effort, regardless of whether the methods are aligned to XP or any other methodology. Further, the disciplined engineering approach will provide organizations striving for capability maturity model (CMM) level 4 (managed) or 5 (optimizing) with some valuable tools and techniques with which to achieve these higher levels of maturity. Of course, this is also useful to organizations that are implementing SPICE (Software Process Improvement Capability dEtermination), organizing software process engineering groups, or implementing mature project management methods for development projects.
I agree with a previous reviewer that development is also a social and cognitive discipline, but it is not solely those. The social and cognitive approach will only get you so far. The same is true of the disciplined engineering approach. You need both, and this book is a valuable work for the latter.
In my opinion this book is probably more valuable today then when it was first published because the approach required too much rigor for most organizations to adopt. However, with the growing movement towards XP I believe that this book will add details and techniques that are only superficially addressed in the XP body of knowledge and literature. If you are a proponent of XP this book provides some proven, concrete techniques. If you are striving for higher levels of capability maturity this book (and the companion, Introducing the Team Software Process by Mr. Humphrey) will give you the tools to get to managed, and from there to optimizing. I believe this book is a 5-star classic that was ahead of its time.
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on October 28, 2004
I have read the book and implemented the processes both in and out of a school envirnoment. I have seen measurable positive results in my skills. I recently learned that an instructor I had over 7 years ago still refers to me as the best programmer he has ever met, and I owe this entirely to this book.
If you think you are already good, then chances are are that the book won't change you. If you want to find out how good you are, or more importantly become the best you can be you will most likely be enthralled by it.
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on March 24, 2000
In addition to describing the Personal Software Process, this book introduces practical topics that are important to a working programmer. Of particular importance are metrics, inspections, estimation, and scheduling. It takes effort to implement those practices well, but they do address important concerns. If you program for a living, I recommend this book.
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