This three-book set includes Steve Maguire's Debugging the Development Process, Jim McCarthy's Dynamics of Software Development, and Steve McConnell's Software Project Survival Guide. Together, these books convey the field knowledge of three experienced development-team leaders. Anyone planning to participate in a software project, particularly as a manager, should read these books.
Debugging the Development Process shows how Microsoft goes about creating, writing, testing, and improving products. Maguire always keeps one eye on the product's purpose--as well as the purpose of the company--as he offers valuable advice on how to design and build software products that are efficient in terms of time and money. The book is full of design philosophy, including entertaining passages on conflicts between marketing people and developers. (The LAYOFF parable, the highly ominous Excel macro that almost was, is amusing).
Dynamics of Software Development explores the crazy mix of creativity, intelligence, technical skill, and general humanity that makes up a software development team. Such groups require special handling in order for them to yield good products. McCarthy offers a bromide-rich explanation of techniques he's used (again, at Microsoft) to hire bright people, motivate them, stave off burnout, and still get the product out the door on time. His advice is sound and should prove invaluable--even if your development team consists of one person.
Because software development is inherently complex and developers often must attempt to satisfy shifting goals, even successful, well-managed software projects have a death-march aspect to them. Software Project Survival Guide explains what you can do to make building software enjoyable and rewarding, not just survivable. McConnell goes heavy on hints, tips, and checklists of things you can implement now to create a better development team. --David Wall