"Ship It!" Book Writeup

August 04, 2011

Ship It! Book Cover Ship It! A Practical Guide to Successful Software Projects Jared Richardson and William Gwaltney Jr. ISBN: 0974514047

What’s the point?
The book has three main sections: tools and infrastructure, project techniques, and problem/solution anecdotes.

The tools section outlines how to use a bug tracker, source control, build servers and automated tests. The project techniques section introduces ‘soft’ tools like code reviews and team standups. And then, in the typical Pragmatic Programmer fashion, practical examples of common situations are given and the authors explain the steps to take to arrive at a solution.

How was it?
I think this book would be great for a software team that is in chaos, working long hours, and unfamiliar with more modern software engineering techniques. But for me, I didn’t really get that much out of it.

My current project uses all of the tools listed and the project techniques, so I focused on the end section of the chapters where the book helps you identify if you are “Doing it Right”.

If you have read The Pragmatic Programmer you are probably already familiar with 80% of the material in this book.

I found that the Appendix was very useful, but a bit dated. I wanted to know other tools for doing unit tests or build automation and this section was concise but informative. However, the book really shows it age it comes to listing tools (the SCM tools mentioned were CVS, SVN, SourceSafe and BitKeeper /shudder).

I was trying to decide whether to read this book or the related “Release It!” book from the same publisher; in hindsight I think I could have skipped this one without missing out on much.

Who should read it?
Developers who are unhappy with how their team is currently operating, developers who want to introduce best practices but aren’t sure how to get buy-in

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