Best Practices

Your Must-Read List of Books on Software Development

Software development books are highly beneficial for developers, but more particularly for senior developers. As a senior developer, you must be skilled at effectively mentoring junior developers and managing project progress within your team. However, these skills are rarely inborn. This means that you need to be intentional about gathering knowledge and optimizing your expertise in these areas. Books can help you achieve that.

Your Must-Read List of Software Development Books

Software Development Books You Should Add to Your Reading List

Rapid Development: Taming Wild Software Schedules

Author: Steve McConnell

Steve McConnell has authored several software development books, but "Rapid Development: Taming Wild Software Schedules" is a general favorite. The book is perfect for software development teams that want to effectively control and shrink their development schedules.

The book provides fresh perspectives on development approaches and management ideas that have been implemented by companies like Microsoft. It also discusses the concept of trade-offs, and how they come in handy during the development process. Essentially, if your company intends to build software at the lowest cost possible, high-quality software might be a trade-off. This also applies if your goal is to develop high-performing software; your costs will likely be high. Today, many software projects fail because developers do not fully understand the importance of making strategic and contextual trade-offs.

Ultimately, this book is a good choice for developers that want to get better at managing their projects. 

The Mythical Man-Month

Author: Fred Brooks

This book explores the intersection between software engineering and project management in a pretty interesting way. "The Mythical Man-Month" is a collection of carefully selected essays that emphasize one point: adding manpower to a software project that is already behind schedule is highly detrimental. Brooks argues that based on his experience managing the development of the OS/360 at IBM, a decision to add more manpower to such a project will only delay the project even further. This argument has evolved today into what is generally called "Brooke's Law".

However, "The Mythical Man-Month" does not only tell the story of a manager who made some decisions that ultimately backfired. Instead, it shows developers (particularly project managers) that it is not exactly advisable to adopt hasty approaches to solve project problems. The book also gives managers insights into how to achieve a seamless development process. 

Software Estimation: Demystifying the Black Art

Author: Steve McConnell

Software estimation is a process that many developers and managers often struggle with. The reason for this is not far-fetched; the process of estimating the amount of time and resources a project will likely require throughout the development process. It is often difficult to accurately make preliminary estimations on a project. More so, many developers often want to make realistic estimations. This is a challenge because development projects involve many uncertainties. However, “Software Estimation: Demystifying the Black Art” helps developers demystify the process of software estimation. Also authored by renowned tech leader, Steve McConnell, the book provides actionable steps on how software developers can adopt procedures to achieve estimation proficiency. 

Agile Estimating and Planning

Author: Mike Cohn

"Agile Estimating and Planning" is authored by Mike Cohn, one of the most renowned figures in agile development. This book guides developers on how they can effectively plan and schedule projects even with the presence of numerous uncertainties. It also provides insights into how agile teams can manage dynamic projects. One unique thing about this book is that the author uses real-life examples to help users understand the approaches and techniques discussed in the book. It is definitely a great choice if you want to build your expertise in project management and estimation. 

Working Effectively with Legacy Code

Author: Michael Feathers

Some developers find it particularly challenging to update or maintain existing applications. This is because untangling legacy code can be tricky and time-consuming. The book could potentially help you get better at working with large and untested legacy codebases. It does this by providing extensive strategies on how developers and testers can work effectively with their legacy systems.

Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship

Author: Robert C. Martin

Clean code is vital for software development teams to thrive. Code is said to be “clean” when it is understandable and maintainable. In such cases, the code is written by developers who actively consider that other team members will need to be able to understand the purpose of the code. However, while it is vital to build clean code from the start, bad code can be fixed. This book shows you how. It helps you differentiate between bad and good code and gives tips on how you can fix bad code. It also guides developers on how to format code to increase readability.

The book is divided into three parts. The first part details best practices for writing clean code, while the second part provides numerous case study exercises through which readers can practice the process of code cleaning. The last part functions as a “feedback” chapter. It provides a list of problems that can be detected from the case studies provided in the previous chapter. Ultimately, Robert Martin’s “Clean Code” is your best bet if you want to increase your team’s ability to write and run clean code. 

In summary, numerous software development books provide useful insights on how you can improve your expertise and properly manage your development projects. The highlighted books could potentially come in handy at any stage of your career.

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