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Review of Debugging the Development Process

By Andy Warren,

This is a short book, eight chapters and about 180 pages. Every bit of it worth reading in my opinion. This is a book about managing the development process AND about about coaching and mentoring developers. It's not a highly technical book - in fact I think it might be a great book for mid to upper level managers who are not techies.

There is a lot of common sense in this book. The author talks about making developers fix their own bugs, a system that rewards programmers that write good code the first time and get to move on to more interesting things while the less precise (or in fairness less experienced) developer soon learns the value of trying to do it right the first time as they churn away at fixing their code while watching other developers get to do the fun stuff! He also talks about saying "No" to features and has some terrific stories about how some "features" came to be on the build list. One such feature was a layoff macro for Excel!

Another great part was about "five year tenderfeet", developers that have been in the business for quite a while but because they are stuck on one project don't develop a broad skill base compared to a developer that moves from project to project. He goes on to talk about how at some point you have to be willing to promote or move developers and has some good reasons for doing so.

As much as I enjoyed the book and learned some useful things from it, it's the managers and leads that need to read this book. Common sense sounds easy, but it's hard won. Why not leverage the experience of someone who has done it for a living for a while and can give you some pointers?

It's not often I'm downright thrilled about a book. If you're just looking for code or SQL, this isn't the book. If you'd like to prep yourself for a move into management of one kind or another, I think it's exactly the book for you. It's an older book, published in 1994 but still totally valid. FatBrain doesn't carry it any longer but you should have no trouble finding it online, probably a lot cheaper than the original $24.95 retail.


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