Software Development with Linux

Book Review The Mythical Man Month

SAT, 01 JAN 2011

The Mythical Man-Month book coverThe Mythical Man-Month by Frederick P. Brooks, Jr. was a book that I wanted to read for a long time.  For those who have never heard of it, it contains fifteen essays (four more in the 20th anniversary edition) about software project management.  The original was published in 1975, and the 20th anniversary edition, well, in 1995.

You can read all the ideas discussed in this books on its wikipedia page, so I won't restate that.  I'll only say that if you have to choose between the original or the anniversary edition, go with the latest.  The four additional chapters, which include "No Silver Bullet", are really good.  They bring an up-to-date vision of the proposition and reflections made in the original book.

As mentioned previously, this books isn't recent.  You will probably not found anything new in there.  Pretty much everything has been integrated in more recent material.  But, in this book, you get the historical perceptive for this ideas, which is interesting in itself, but also help you understand why and how those ideas came to life.  It is one thing to know something, it is another one to understand the reasoning under it.

Another thing to keep in mind with this book, is that the examples are for (operating) system design, not small self-contained application.  We often read about agile software development in the context of (relatively) small web applications or projects.  Here, Brooks discuss the development of complete operating platform.  Yet, you get most (if not all) the ideas of agile software development represented in there.  This gives a great insight in how to apply agile software development techniques to projects of various size and scale.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in software development.  Reading only the latest published books won't give you the historical background on why we are where we are today.