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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I would give it a 100 stars if I could!
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...
Published on May 29 2004 by A. Imran

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Why people like this book
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...
Published on April 15 2002


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I would give it a 100 stars if I could!, May 29 2004
By 
A. Imran "a87" (Irvine, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition (2nd Edition) (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. what the user sees.
Pilot Plant:
When designing a new kind of system, a team should factor in the fact that they will have to throw away the first system that is built since this first system will teach them how to build the system. The system will then be completely redesigned using the newly acquired insights during building of the first system. This second system will be smarter and should be the one delivered to the customer.
Formal Documents:
Every project manager must create a roadmap in the form of formal documents which specifies milestones precisely and things like who is going to do what and when and at what cost.
Communication:
In order to avoid disaster, all the teams working on a project, such as the architecture and implementation teams, should stay in contact with each other in as many ways as possible and not guess or assume anything about the other. Ask whenever there's a doubt. NEVER assume anything.
Code Freeze and System Versioning:
No customer ever fully knows what she wants from the system she wants you to build. As the system begins to come to life, and the customer interacts with it, he understands more and more what he really wants from the system and consequently asks for changes. These changes should of course be accomodated but only upto a certain date, after which the code is frozen. All requests for more changes will have to wait until the NEXT version of the system. If you keep making changes to the system endlessly, it may NEVER get finished.
Specialized Tools:
Every team should have a designated tool maker who makes tools for the entire team, instead of all individuals developing and using their private tools that no one else understands.
No silver bullet:
There is no single strategy, technique or trick that will exponentially raise the productivity of programmers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Although 40 year-old, still very relevant, June 25 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition (2nd Edition) (Paperback)
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
2.0 out of 5 stars Why people like this book, April 15 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition (2nd Edition) (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 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An obsolete classic, Jan. 13 2001
This review is from: The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition (2nd Edition) (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
2.0 out of 5 stars Moldy Oldy, Feb. 1 2002
By 
Jeff Dosser (Broken Arrow, Ok United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition (2nd Edition) (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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5.0 out of 5 stars Sad But True, April 29 2004
By 
David Baron (Montreal, Quebec Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition (2nd Edition) (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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4.0 out of 5 stars A true classic of software project management!, March 28 2004
By 
Eric Kassan (Las Vegas, NV USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition (2nd Edition) (Paperback)
There have been many, many books on software project management lately, but this one still is one of the best. Perhaps the context of older simpler technology helps illustrate the principles more clearly. While some new technologies have an impact on projects, particularly the encapsulation aspect of object-oriented design that allows for real code-reuse, the fundamentals don't change. Further, Brooks shows us why there can never be a "Silver Bullet" that will revolutionize the art.
He covers in great detail critical elements such as team structure, development process, conceptual integrity, and scheduling issues (including the myth of the man-month, for which the book is named). Further, since he draws on experience from classic projects such as IBM's OS/360, the book has interesting history as well.
My only issue is that with recent increases in power of PCs and languages, many "projects" are now of such scope that they need only involve a single developer, in which case a different paradigm is needed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A concise classic, Nov. 30 2003
By 
therosen "therosen" (New York, NY United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition (2nd Edition) (Paperback)
Perhaps the first mass market book on software engineering, this book is a classic. It has defined the agenda for the software engineering field, as well as guide the organizational design for many software and IT organizations.
Some key concepts from the book...
- It is not good project management to divide effort by time to come up with staffing. Adding people adds commuications complexity, so double staff size quadruples the amount of communications links.
- To insure conceptual integrity, the software project needs the design to be handled by a very small group of people.
- The optimal model for a software development team is a hospital surgical unit.
- There is no silver bullet for improved quality, just a lot of best practices.
Mr. Brooks brings a wealth of experience to bear on this. As the head of some of IBM's largest operating system development projects, he's been in the guts of some of the hardest challenges the industry has to offer. He writes in a non-technical style that cuts to the heart of these difficult topics.
In the latest edition, Mr. Brooks takes a hard look at what he got right and wrong over the years. This rare self-critical analysis makes it a valuable re-read for those that enjoyed it the first time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars timeless classic, Sept. 18 2003
This review is from: The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition (2nd Edition) (Paperback)
I just re-read Mythical Man-Month for the umpteenth time. This book is like a good bottle of scotch, it gets better each time.
Your developers should read this book if they are serious coders.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Software engineering classic for all software professionals, June 30 2003
By 
Erik Gfesser (Lombard, IL United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition (2nd Edition) (Paperback)
I read this book after the instructor of a computer course I took in the mid-1990s highly recommended it to students. There are so many reviews listed here for this book that I am not sure I can add anything of particular note. What I can say is that reading, understanding, and applying principles outlined in this book will help programmers begin their evolution to software engineers. I recommend this book to everyone involved in the software development process, including project managers and all software project stakeholders. Yes, I agree with some reviewers that parts of the book are a bit outdated. However, this is a highly readable book which has much timeless advice. Learn to read between the lines. If the text refers to a procedural language, and your only exposure has been to object-oriented languages, for instance, think about how you can apply the principles to Java or C++ or Smalltalk. Readers just need to understand that a book does not need to be rewritten every time the language-of-the-month changes. This book is not eternal truth. Principles do change over time. Read this as one of your primers to software engineering, and then follow up your reading with other texts. This book is quoted so often in other books and technical journals that it deserves an initial reading.
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