The Mythical Man-Month

By Frederick P. Brooks Jr,

Book cover of The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering

Book description

Few books on software project management have been as influential and timeless as The Mythical Man-Month. With a blend of software engineering facts and thought-provoking opinions, Fred Brooks offers insight for anyone managing complex projects. These essays draw from his experience as project manager for the IBM System/360 computer family…

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Why read it?

5 authors picked The Mythical Man-Month as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

In my consulting gigs, I come across plenty of clueless remarks. Here's a classic one: “We're falling behind schedule, so let's hire more coders.” Or a more recent gem: “We'll be ten times more productive if we generate code with AI.”

When I encounter such nonsense, I don't facepalm or cringe. Instead, I put on my poker face and drop a quote from The Mythical Man-Month.

In an industry where last year’s book is already outdated, Fred Brooks' collection of essays has been a guiding light for nearly half a century. His aphorisms have become legendary. “The bearing of a…

Much has changed since this book was published in 1975.

We’ve gone from phones chained to walls to smartphones you can lose behind the sofa cushions. The word “apple” went from being something you eat to something you talk into and stream movies on.

We went from ARPANET connecting a few university computers to the thoughtful, incisive forum of civil public discourse that is the internet today. (Obviously I’m kidding.)

In all of those years, however, some things haven’t changed. Management is still management, people on a development team still need to communicate, and as Brooks's Law states, “Adding manpower…

You’ve heard of the title, now read the book.

Yes, it was first published back in 1975, but when you read this collection of essays on different aspects of software design and production, you’ll be amazed (and a bit disheartened) at how common the problems still are and how relevant the advice remains.

The title essay is the star of the book, explaining why adding team members slows down software production instead of speeding it up.

But the other essays are also on point, discussing how to keep your best engineers productive, drive proper design, clearly communicate and collaborate across…

In the 1970s, Brooks was the leading thinker on managing large software projects in the world, and unexpected delays in completing complex coding tasks were emerging as a costly headache for large organizations. Brooks was considered a software luminary within IBM, which dominated the digital world in the era before the advent of the personal computer.

“In many ways, managing a large computer programming project is like managing any other large undertaking, but in many other ways it is different – in more ways than most professional managers expect,” Brooks dryly declared in the opening lines of a book destined…

A true classic about software development, and incredibly as relevant today as the time of the examples described in the book, in the 60s and 70s, when software development was still in its infancy. Because the book talks about the process of creating software and how teams work while doing it, any developer will see themselves reflected in their day-to-day. It’s great to understand naïve problems (in hindsight) and avoid them. A lot of common phrases used in software development originate from this book.

From Jaime's list on for Python and non-Python developers.

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