Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering

Razroo Book Club - Intersection of Software + Business

Aleksandra Khmarskaia
February 03, 2021
3 min read

Why Read It

“Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering” is an enjoyable book about software, which may sound like an oxymoron. The light and funny way the author tells us about the programming process is worth reading. References are charming. It’s nice to read the book where information is a verified and referenced fact you can count on. The references are not only sending us to some research but sometimes to other software engineering books and even classics. Robert Glass has decades of professional experience in software, so you don’t have an option not to trust him.

But you might not agree.


Overview

Light and well structured, the book is divided into 55 facts and 10 fallacies, that also have fine systems inside of each chapter. All facts cover 4 areas of software engineering: Management, Life Cycle, Quality, and Research. The 10 fallacies are written about Management, Education, and Life Cycle as well.


Interesting Points

It Is All About People

The key secret of a great software building project are people, the developers. That might sound obvious, but if you wish for a stellar result you should hire the best engineers you can acquire instead of regular ones. The best developers are 30 times more productive than the worse developers. Just keep it in mind and read our review on “Managing the Unmanageable”. There is a lot in common.

Reality is the Murder of a Beautiful Theory by a Gang of Ugly Facts

This is the funny quote from the “Facts and Fallacies”, which illustrates well how simple are thoughts that the author offers to us. Projects launch late because of faulty schedules, not some abstract emergency occasions. You don’t have to reach 100% test coverage, it’s useless and impossible. Software engineering does not need more methodologies. These facts are so simple and may sound even obvious but they are just harsh reality.

Debatable thoughts

Do software project managers need to know what programming is about? Is the product more successful if you have more maintenance? Some of Glass’s thoughts could raise questions. That is the main reason why the book has a 4 out 5 average ratings on GoodReads: the most popular reason why people estimated the “Facts and Fallacies” with 3 out of 5 is that some facts (or fallacies) are just impossible to agree with.


Would I Read It Knowing What I Know Now?

Of course, there were a few facts that are already well-known. For example, I found familiar information in Fact 3 "Adding people to a late project makes it later", Fact 16 "Reuse-in-the-large remains a mostly unsolved problem", and Fact 24 "Requirement errors are the most expensive to fix during production". But still, it is a great idea to refresh and systemize some information in your head. The author made a giant work to help us do that. Besides, the book is 12 years old, it could be a big discovery when a book had just been released. I could recommend this book to all programmers.


Next Book: Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel

Let’s create the future next week! The investor and entrepreneur Peter Thiel will show us how to see new options in the world, where, as it seems, there is nothing to invent any more. The author believes that there is no limit to progress. The book promises to teach us how to think about innovations and ask questions that lead to unexpected answers.

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