Books

If you are in the business of creating software, no matter your role, then you owe it to yourself to take a consider David Farley’s Modern Software Engineering: Doing What Works to Build Better Software Faster. I’m not in any way affiliated with the offer and I’m not getting any sort of kickback on that link. I just think it’s a good book.

This book, along with what I consider a sort of companion to it Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations will likely get you to rethink how you are approaching software development. The Accelerate book provides information backed by data that shows that the processes defined in Modern Software Engineering do in fact work to improve the pace of software development, the quality of the software and improvements in developer/employee satisfaction.

The overarching message to take away from the books is that being fast is the key. The quicker you can write and release code into production so that you can then get feedback from it the better your code quality will ultimately be. Care should be taken to remove anything that prevents developers from getting their code into production quickly and with minimal roadblocks. This doesn’t mean you are careless, however! Putting a heavy emphasis on testing, the books paint a picture of the ideal system where tests are written first and then code to satisfy the tests. This process helps ensure that your code is divided up into parts that can be tested easily which will, in essence, indirectly force you to write better, more readable and more easily understood code. These tests then have the additional benefit of allowing developers to know that the changes they made either satisfy requirements or at least didn’t break existing functionality. The difference between “I think it works” and “I know it works” pays huge dividends in developer and team satisfaction. It also provides long term benefits as people are rotated out of teams because it codifies intended behavior. Well written and described tests, when they fail, will tell the developer what the intended outcome of a function is.

This may feel counter-intuitive but the Accelerate book does a great job of showing, with data, that these things are in fact true in most if not all cases. While reading the book there were a number of times where I stopped to consider how I was approaching things and realized some of the assumptions I had made were incorrect and need to be adjusted. Much of what Farley describes sounds difficult to implement and indeed everything he describes does require a certain amount of discipline amongst the team to ensure the work they do enforces the defined ideals.

If you’re looking for a good read that will make you think about how you are approaching software development, regardless of your role in it, I highly recommend Modern Software Engineering as well as Accelerate book.

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