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Mythical Man Month - Recap

Even after almost 35 years in print, and with such sweeping changes in the software industry, I still find the lessons and observations in this book relevant in today's development environment. The Man-Month is truly mythical; software projects work best with a very few, sharp developers. When a project becomes late, throwing more people at it makes it later, and communication/synchronization between parties is key. Touching on such topics as unit testing, regression testing, project hierarchies, and niche languages, MM-M predicted long in advance very common, important practices found in today's projects. Brooks even touches on his excitement of object-oriented programming, his skepticism of the benefits of artificial intelligence, and the potential benefits of shrink-wrapped software. Even though they were presented in 1975, these are all correct assertions in 2009.

Being the 20th anniversary edition, Brooks adds new chapters to reflect on the thoughts of the first edition. One new chapter provides an outline of the first edition and annotates in brackets which statements may have changed over the years. As expected, not much has changed; he elaborates on email and web pages as acceptable mediums used to keep developers in sync, and that still, no silver bullet exists that promises order-of-magnitude improvement in software development.

Best lines of the book include:

"Good cooking takes time. If you are made to wait, it is to serve you better, and to please you."

"Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later."

"How does a project get to be a year late?... One day at a time."

"There is no single development, in either technology or management technique, which by itself promises even one order-of-magnitude improvement within a decade in productivity, in reliability, in simplicity."

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