The best books of lessons about software development

Why am I passionate about this?

I first learned to program in college in 1970. Since then I’ve spent much time as a software developer, manager, tester, process improvement leader, consultant, trainer, author, and, of course, a user. I quickly learned that I didn’t have time to make all the mistakes that every software developer before me had already made. My training and writing career has involved sharing what I and others have learned with audiences to help them quickly become more effective software development team members, regardless of their project role. This book distills insights and observations both from my own experience and from what I’ve heard from thousands of students and consulting clients.


I wrote...

Software Development Pearls: Lessons from Fifty Years of Software Experience

By Karl Wiegers,

Book cover of Software Development Pearls: Lessons from Fifty Years of Software Experience

What is my book about?

There’s a tremendous amount to learn about the complex business of software development. Any approach that can help you avoid mistakes and false starts is a real time saver. Also, there’s a lot more to software development than just writing code. You can struggle up all those learning curves yourself, or you can jumpstart your career by learning from others’ experiences.

I wrote Software Development Pearls to share 60 powerful insights that I’ve collected in my 50+ years of software experience about requirements, design, project management, culture and teamwork, quality, and process improvement. Each lesson describes practical techniques, many true experience stories that illustrate the lesson, and helpful guidance to let you begin applying the lesson immediately in your world.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of 201 Principles of Software Development

Karl Wiegers Why did I love this book?

Many of the most significant principles of effective software development are timeless. They’re independent of the development life cycle or model, programming language, application type, and so forth. Although this book is quite a few years old now, nearly all of its contents are still valid. The 201 principles cover the full spectrum of software engineering: general principles, requirements engineering, design, coding, testing, management, product assurance, and evolution. The descriptions of each principle are concise, whereas my 60 lessons in Software Development Pearls go into a great deal more detail and offer many practical techniques.

There’s an unfortunate tendency among young software people to disregard knowledge from the past as irrelevant to them. That’s not correct. This book can help close significant gaps in any practicing software developer’s knowledge.

By Alan M. Davis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 201 Principles of Software Development as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This text defines governing principles for software development, assumptions that work regardless of tools used, to keep software projects from costing too much, taking too long and disappointing users.


Book cover of Software Engineering at Google: Lessons Learned from Programming Over Time

Karl Wiegers Why did I love this book?

This hefty and contemporary volume provides a wealth of recommendations about how to build high-quality, large-scale software that’s intended to endure for an extended period of time. The book contains sections on culture and leadership, processes, and tools. It describes many effective practices for testing, configuration management, continuous integration and delivery, code reviews, code static analysis, and documentation. Not everyone is writing software on the scale that Google does, but the many comprehensive and specific examples in this book can be applied to nearly any software development project.

By Titus Winters, Tom Manshreck, Hyrum Wright

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Software Engineering at Google as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Today, software engineers need to know not only how to program effectively but also how to develop proper engineering practices to make their codebase sustainable and healthy. This book emphasizes this difference between programming and software engineering.

How can software engineers manage a living codebase that evolves and responds to changing requirements and demands over the length of its life? Based on their experience at Google, software engineers Titus Winters and Hyrum Wright, along with technical writer Tom Manshreck, present a candid and insightful look at how some of the world's leading practitioners construct and maintain software. This book covers…


Book cover of Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering

Karl Wiegers Why did I love this book?

Robert Glass is one of the foundational leaders of the discipline of software engineering. He’s done it all and seen it all. This book includes 55 facts and 10 fallacies about many aspects of software engineering, grouped into the major categories of management, the life cycle, and quality. Based on my own experience, I can vouch for the validity of all the points Glass makes.

These timeless truths can help you avoid going down an ineffective path, wasting time only to rediscover the same facts on your own. There’s no need to retrace the missteps from the past. Books like this can keep your energies focused where they will provide the most value to your customers.

By Robert L. Glass,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The practice of building software is a "new kid on the block" technology. Though it may not seem this way for those who have been in the field for most of their careers, in the overall scheme of professions, software builders are relative "newbies."


In the short history of the software field, a lot of facts have been identified, and a lot of fallacies promulgated. Those facts and fallacies are what this book is about.

There's a problem with those facts-and, as you might imagine, those fallacies. Many of these fundamentally important facts are learned by a software engineer, but…


Book cover of AntiPatterns: Refactoring Software, Architectures, and Projects in Crisis

Karl Wiegers Why did I love this book?

Most books about lessons learned and good practices tell you what you ought to be doing. AntiPatterns warns you about things you should not be doing. It points out a wide range of software project approaches that the authors believe are not advisable. The antipatterns have whimsical titles such as Poltergeists, Golden Hammer, Spaghetti Code, Stovepipe System, and Design by Committee. Each pattern describes the symptoms, causes, and consequences of that particular behavior, as well as offering a restructured approach that’s likely to yield better results. As with other lessons-learned books, this book lets you learn from the pain suffered by others to avoid stepping into the same traps on your own projects.

By William J. Brown, Raphael C. Malveau, Hays W. "Skip" McCormick III , Thomas J. Mowbray

Why should I read it?

1 author picked AntiPatterns as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The AntiPatterns authors have clearly been there and done that when it comes to managing software development efforts. I resonated with one insight after another, having witnessed too many wayward projects myself. The experience in this book is palpable." -John Vlissides, IBM Research "This book allows managers, architects, and developers to learn from the painful mistakes of others. The high-level AntiPatterns on software architecture are a particularly valuable contribution to software engineering. Highly recommended!" -Kyle Brown Author of The Design Patterns Smalltalk Companion "AntiPatterns continues the trend started in Design Patterns. The authors have discovered and named common problem situations…


Book cover of Rapid Development: Taming Wild Software Schedules

Karl Wiegers Why did I love this book?

One way to craft lessons learned is in the form of recommended best practices (or, as I prefer, “good practices”). Best practices represent collected and distilled wisdom from many observers, many projects, and many years of experience. Rapid Development includes 27 best practices for software development, with one chapter devoted to each. Although the book was published more than 25 years ago, most of these are still relevant. Indeed, several of them have been incorporated into routine contemporary practices: evolutionary delivery, designing for change, timebox development, and requirements scrubbing. Techniques such as inspections, miniature milestones, principled negotiation, and reuse are perennially pertinent.

By Steve McConnell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rapid Development as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Corporate and commercial software-development teams all want solutions for one important problem-how to get their high-pressure development schedules under control. In RAPID DEVELOPMENT, author Steve McConnell addresses that concern head-on with overall strategies, specific best practices, and valuable tips that help shrink and control development schedules and keep projects moving. Inside, you'll find:





A rapid-development strategy that can be applied to any project and the best practices to make that strategy work
Candid discussions of great and not-so-great rapid-development practices-estimation, prototyping, forced overtime, motivation, teamwork, rapid-development languages, risk management, and many others
A list of classic mistakes to avoid for…


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The Managing People Practice Manual

By Neil Thompson,

Book cover of The Managing People Practice Manual

Neil Thompson Author Of The Managing People Practice Manual

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Writer Educator Adviser

Neil's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

This manual addresses the need to ensure that people are at the centre of the organisation. There has never been a timelier reminder of the need to ensure that leading, supporting and developing staff are critical aspects of creating the right organisational culture to grow and develop. Written with sensitivity, it brings together essential learning and underpinning theoretical knowledge and frameworks to promote effective practice.

This is an essential handbook for managers and leaders who want to develop the full potential of their people. It not only covers the fundamental issues of human resource management, but also highlights important topics that organisations find difficult to address, such as empowerment, stress management, mental health, equality, diversity, inclusion, and the promotion of well-being at work.

The Managing People Practice Manual

By Neil Thompson,

What is this book about?

It is refreshing to come across an HR book that bridges the gap perfectly between the academic theory and the practicality of ‘how to do it'. Dr Neil Thompson takes us on a humanistic journey that genuinely captures the human dimension of people management. This is an extremely helpful manual full of important and practical information about promoting well-being to achieve the best outcome for various everyday people management issues. The easy-to-understand inclusive language of this book calls to anyone interested in people management, meaning this is a perfect book for students, HR leaders, and practitioners. I know I will…


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Interested in software, software development, and software engineering?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about software, software development, and software engineering.

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