“Agile Software Development is a highly stimulating and rich book. The author has a deep background and gives us a tour de force of the emerging agile methods.” —Tom Gilb The agile model of software development has taken the world by storm. Now, in Agile Software Development, Second Edition, one of agile’s leading pioneers updates his Jolt Productivity award-winning book to reflect all that’s been learned about agile development since its original introduction. Alistair Cockburn begins by updating his powerful model of software development as a “cooperative game of invention and communication.” Among the new ideas he introduces: harnessing competition without damaging collaboration; learning lessons from lean manufacturing; and balancing strategies for communication. Cockburn also explains how the cooperative game is played in business and on engineering projects, not just software development Next, he systematically illuminates the agile model, shows how it has evolved, and answers the questions developers and project managers ask most often, including · Where does agile development fit in our organization? · How do we blend agile ideas with other ideas? · How do we extend agile ideas more broadly? Cockburn takes on crucial misconceptions that cause agile projects to fail. For example, you’ll learn why encoding project management strategies into fixed processes can lead to ineffective strategy decisions and costly mistakes. You’ll also find a thoughtful discussion of the controversial relationship between agile methods and user experience design. Cockburn turns to the practical challenges of constructing agile methodologies for your own teams. You’ll learn how to tune and continuously reinvent your methodologies, and how to manage incomplete communication. This edition contains important new contributions on these and other topics: · Agile and CMMI · Introducing agile from the top down · Revisiting “custom contracts” · Creating change with “stickers” In addition, Cockburn updates his discussion of the Crystal methodologies, which utilize his “cooperative game” as their central metaphor. If you’re new to agile development, this book will help you succeed the first time out. If you’ve used agile methods before, Cockburn’s techniques will make you even more effective.
If you could go back in time and tell yourself to read a specific book at the beginning of your career as a developer, which book would it be?
I expect this list to be varied and to cover a wide range of things.
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Applying UML and Patterns by Craig Larman.
The title of the book is slightly misleading; it does deal with UML and patterns, but it covers so much more. The subtitle of the book tells you a bit more: An Introduction to Object-Oriented Analysis and Design and Iterative Development.
Masters of doom. As far as motivation and love for your profession go: it won't get any better than what's been described in this book, truthfully inspiring story!
This is the book for those who want to understand the whys and hows of OOP using C# 3.0. You don't want to miss it.
It's about about what mindsets are required to reach mastery in any skill, and why. It's just awesome, and an easy read too.
Adding to the great ones mentioned above:
Pro Spring is a superb introduction to the world of Inversion of Control and Dependency Injection. If you're not aware of these practices and their implications - the balance of topics and technical detail in Pro Spring is excellent. It builds a great case and consequent personal foundation.
Another book I'd suggest would be Robert Martin's Agile Software Development (ASD). Code smells, agile techniques, test driven dev, principles ... a well-written balance of many different programming facets.
More traditional classics would include the infamous GoF Design Patterns, Bertrand Meyer's Object Oriented Software Construction, Booch's Object Oriented Analysis and Design, Scott Meyer's "Effective C++'" series and a lesser known book I enjoyed by Gunderloy, Coder to Developer.
And while books are nice ... don't forget radio!
... let me add one more thing. If you haven't already discovered safari - take a look. It is more addictive than stack overflow :-) I've found that with my google type habits - I need the more expensive subscription so I can look at any book at any time - but I'd recommend the trial to anyone even remotely interested.
(ah yes, a little obj-C today, cocoa tomorrow, patterns? soa? what was that example in that cookbook? What did Steve say in the second edition? Should I buy this book? ... a subscription like this is great if you'd like some continuity and context to what you're googling ...)
Database System Concepts is one of the best books you can read on understanding good database design principles.
Algorithms in C++ was invaluable to me in learning Big O notation and the ins and outs of the various sort algorithms. This was published before Sedgewick decided he could make more money by dividing it into 5 different books.
C++ FAQs is an amazing book that really shows you what you should and shouldn't be doing in C++. The backward compatibility of C++ leaves a lot of landmines about and this book helps one carefully avoid them while at the same time being a good introduction into OO design and intent.
Here are two I haven't seen mentioned:
I wish I had read "Ruminations on C++" by Koenig and Moo much sooner. That was the book that made OO concepts really click for me.
And I recommend Michael Abrash's "Zen of Code Optimization" for anyone else planning on starting a programming career in the mid 90s.
Perfect Software: And Other Illusions about Testing by Gerald M. Weinberg
Rapid Development by McConnell
O, well, how long ago it was.
I have a few good books that strongly influenced me that I've not seen on this list so far:
The Psychology of Everyday Things by Donald Norman. The general principles of design for other people. This may seem to be mostly good for UI but if you think about it, it has applications almost anywhere there is an interface that someone besides the original developer has to work with; e. g. an API and designing the interface in such a way that other developers form the correct mental model and get appropriate feedback from the API itself.
The Art of Software Testing by Glen Myers. A good, general introduction to testing software; good for programmers to read to help them think like a tester i. e. think of what may go wrong and prepare for it.
By the way, I realize the question was the "Single Most Influential Book" but the discussion seems to have changed to listing good books for developers to read so I hope I can be forgiven for listing two good books rather than just one.
C++ How to Program It is good for beginner.This is excellent book that full complete with 1500 pages.
Inside the C++ object model by Stanley Lippman
I bough this when I was a complete newbie and took me from only knowing that Java existed to a reliable team member in a short time
Not a programming book, but still a very important book every programmer should read:
The Pragmatic programmer was pretty good. However one that really made an impact when I was starting out was :
I know - it sounds and looks a bit cheesy on the outside and has probably dated a bit - but this was an awesome explanation of the internals of Win95 based on the Authors (Matt Pietrek) investigations using his own own tools - the code for which came with the book. Bear in mind this was before the whole open source thing and Microsoft was still pretty cagey about releasing documentation of internals - let alone source. There was some quote in there like "If you are working through some problem and hit some sticking point then you need to stop and really look deeply into that piece and really understand how it works". I've found this to be pretty good advice - particularly these days when you often have the source for a library and can go take a look. Its also inspired me to enjoy diving into the internals of how systems work, something that has proven invaluable over the course of my career.
Oh and I'd also throw in effective .net - great internals explanation of .Net from Don Box.
I recently read Dreaming in Code and found it to be an interesting read. Perhaps more so since the day I started reading it Chandler 1.0 was released. Reading about the growing pains and mistakes of a project team of talented people trying to "change the world" gives you a lot to learn from. Also Scott brings up a lot of programmer lore and wisdom in between that's just an entertaining read.
Beautiful Code had one or two things that made me think differently, particularly the chapter on top down operator precedence.
@Juan: I know Juan, I know - but there are some things that can only be learned by actually getting down to the task at hand. Speaking in abstract ideals all day simply makes you into an academic. It's in the application of the abstract that we truly grok the reason for their existence. :P
@Keith: Great mention of "The Inmates are Running the Asylum" by Alan Cooper - an eye opener for certain, any developer that has worked with me since I read that book has heard me mention the ideas it espouses. +1
This one isnt really a book for the beginning programmer, but if you're looking for SOA design books, then SOA in Practice: The Art of Distributed System Design is for you.
Advanced Programming in the UNIX Environment by W. Richard Stevens.
For me it was Design Patterns Explained it provided an 'Oh that's how it works' moment for me in regards to design patterns and has been very useful when teaching design patterns to others.
I'm a big fan of most titles by Robert C. Martin, especially Agile Software Development, Principles, and Practices and Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship.
Code Craft by Pete Goodliffe is a good read!
The first book that made a real impact on me was Mastering Turbo Assembler by Tom Swan.
In addition to other people's suggestions, I'd recommend either acquiring a copy of SICP, or reading it online. It's one of the few books that I've read that I feel greatly increased my skill in designing software, particularly in creating good abstraction layers.
A book that is not directly related to programming, but is also a good read for programmers (IMO) is Concrete Mathematics. Most, if not all of the topics in it are useful for programmers to know about, and it does a better job of explaining things than any other math book I've read to date.
For me "Memory as a programming concept in C and C++" really opened my eyes to how memory management really works. If you're a C or C++ developer I consider it a must read. You will defiantly learn something or remember things you might have forgotten along the way.
Agile Software Development with Scrum by Ken Schwaber and Mike Beedle.
I used this book as the starting point to understanding Agile development.
Systemantics: How Systems Work and Especially How They Fail. Get it used cheap. But you might not get the humor until you've worked on a few failed projects.
The beauty of the book is the copyright year.
Probably the most profound takeaway "law" presented in the book:
The Fundamental Failure-Mode Theorem (F.F.T.): Complex systems usually operate in failure mode.
The idea being that there are failing parts in any given piece of software that are masked by failures in other parts or by validations in other parts. See a real-world example at the Therac-25 radiation machine, whose software flaws were masked by hardware failsafes. When the hardware failsafes were removed, the software race condition that had gone undetected all those years resulted in the machine killing 3 people.
It seems most people have already touched on the some very good books. One which really helped me out was Effective C#: 50 Ways to Improve your C#. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention The Tao of Pooh. Philosophy books can be good for the soul, and the code.
Discrete Mathematics For Computer Scientists by J.K. Truss.
While this doesn't teach you programming, it teaches you fundamental mathematics that every programmer should know. You may remember this stuff from university, but really, doing predicate logic will improve you programming skills, you need to learn Set Theory if you want to program using collections.
There really is a lot of interesting information in here that can get you thinking about problems in different ways. It's handy to have, just to pick up once in a while to learn something new.
I saw a review of Software Factories: Assembling Applications with Patterns, Models, Frameworks, and Tools on a blog talking also about XI-Factory, I read it and I must say this book is a must read. Altough not specifically targetted to programmers, it explains very clearly what is happening in the programming world right now with Model-Driven Architecture and so on..
Although the book is only 300 pages and favors Microsoft technologies it still offers some good language agnostic tidbits.
Managing Gigabytes is an instant classic for thinking about the heavy lifting of information.
It really helped me to understand the basics of not just Python but programming in general. Although it uses Python to demonstrate concepts, they apply to most, if not all, programming languages. Also: IT'S FREE!
Object-Oriented Programming in Turbo C++. Not super popular, but it was the one that got me started, and was the first book that really helped me grok what an object was. Read this one waaaay back in high school. It sort of brings a tear to my eye...
My high school math teacher lent me a copy of Are Your Lights Figure Problem that I have re-read many times. It has been invaluable, as a developer, and in life generally.
I'm reading now Agile Software Development, Principles, Patterns and Practices. For those interested in XP and Object-Oriented Design, this is a classic reading.
Kernighan & Plauger's Elements of Programming Style. It illustrates the difference between gimmicky-clever and elegant-clever.
to get advanced in prolog i like these two books:
really opens the mind for logic programming and recursion schemes.
Here's an excellent book that is not as widely applauded, but is full of deep insight: Agile Software Development: The Cooperative Game, by Alistair Cockburn.
What's so special about it? Well, clearly everyone has heard the term "Agile", and it seems most are believers these days. Whether you believe or not, though, there are some deep principles behind why the Agile movement exists. This book uncovers and articulates these principles in a precise, scientific way. Some of the principles are (btw, these are my words, not Alistair's):
There is so much more in there too. I'll shut up now, but I HIGHLY recommend this book!
A great book about visual thinking techniques. There is also an expanded edition now. I can't speak to that version, as I do not own it; yet.
Agile Software Development by Alistair Cockburn
Do users ever touch your code? If you're not doing solely back-end work, I recommend About Face: The Essentials of User Interface Design — now in its third edition (linked). I used to think my users were stupid because they didn't "get" my interfaces. I was, of course, wrong. About Face turned me around.
Interesting what a large proportion the books mentioned here are C/C++ books.
While not strictly a software development book, I would highly recommend that Don't Make me Think! be considered in this list.
As so many people have listed Head First Design Patterns, which I agree is a very good book, I would like to see if so many people aware of a title called Design Patterns Explained: A New Perspective on Object-Oriented Design.
This title deals with design patterns excellently. The first half of the book is very accessible and the remaining chapters require only a firm grasp of the content already covered The reason I feel the second half of the book is less accessible is that it covers patterns that I, as a young developer admittedly lacking in experience, have not used much.
This title also introduces the concept behind design patterns, covering Christopher Alexander's initial work in architecture to the GoF first implementing documenting patterns in SmallTalk.
I think that anyone who enjoyed Head First Design Patterns but still finds the GoF very dry, should look into Design Patterns Explained as a much more readable (although not quite as comprehensive) alternative.
Even though i've never programmed a game this book helped me understand a lot of things in a fun way.
How influential a book is often depends on the reader and where they were in their career when they read the book. I have to give a shout-out to Head First Design Patterns. Great book and the very creative way it's written should be used as an example for other tech book writers. I.e. it's written in order to facilitate learning and internalizing the concepts.
This book pools together the collective experiences of some of the world's best programmers. It is a must read.
Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change by Kent Beck. While I don't advocate a hardcore XP-or-the-highway take on software development, I wish I had been introduced to the principles in this book much earlier in my career. Unit testing, refactoring, simplicity, continuous integration, cost/time/quality/scope - these changed the way I looked at development. Before Agile, it was all about the debugger and fear of change requests. After Agile, those demons did not loom as large.
One of my personal favorites is Hacker's Delight, because it was as much fun to read as it was educational.
I hope the second edition will be released soon!
You.Next(): Move Your Software Development Career to the Leadership Track ~ Michael C. Finley (Author), Honza Fedák (Author) link text
I've been arounda while, so most books that I have found influential don't necessarily apply today. I do believe it is universally important to understand the platform that you are developing for (both hardware and OS). I also think it's important to learn from other peoples mistakes. So two books I would recommend are:
Working Effectively with Legacy Code is a really amazing book that goes into great detail about how to properly unit test your code and what the true benefit of it is. It really opened my eyes.
If you had to choose one advantage that Scrum gives over a waterfall process, what would it be?
Firstly, if we just agree that the right question is more like "agile" vs "waterfall"...
As a former development manager, my primary view of this is actually somewhat different. I love the "engineering practices" benefits of agile methods, such as burndows, JIT design etc.
However, studies show that the correlation between process choice and success rate is less than many might expect (one example). Sure, Agile is fairly consistently shown to be somewhat better, but it is not clear if the studies adjust for the fact that you tend to have better developers on agile projects - either because better developers tend to push for Agile or because Agile tends to attract better developers.
If you look at some of Cockburn's stuff, it is quite clear that the main success driver for software projects is the quality of the people on the project - not the process.
See Cockburn's book for some really good fundamental explanations of this (it is not a how-to book, rather something that explains the underlying concepts and why you should do agile).
In my opinion, Agile methods help create an environment in which excellent programmers want to work. Because they are part of the process, because they are allowed to use their brains, etc.
As a business you are therefore more likely to attract and retain top-notch people which means you are more likely to have a successful project.
At a business level, that is really the justification - everything else is all very well and good, but this is the one thing that matters to the bottom line and the one thing you can sell up the chain. It is well known that really good developers are many times more productive than average developers, but they don't cost many times more. So, if you can attract and retain really good developers you get more output for the same money. Oh, and you'll have a lot more fun in the process.
Better environment => Better Developers => More successful projects
One word of caution; If you happen to have a team of average developers with no obvious bright sparks, I would be concerned about implementing Agile. At least, don't expect it to solve your problems - you are likely to get the same kind of results (after the bedding-in period), though with the benefits of the burndown. But Agile depends on having really good developers who really know what they are doing and who are constantly updating their skills - or at least a team that includes some people like that. Agile was invented by a bunch of guys who are legendary programmers and very, very smart people.