01 November 2010

Written by Jonathan Rasmusson of Thoughtworks, a very experienced and large software house, you'd expect this book to be full of useful, well tested tips and tricks about how to "get agile" and get it working well. You'd be right. As books on Agile go, this is up there with the best. It's written wonderfully making for a very easy, yet informative read. It covers everything to do with Agile from building a team, to how the office should be set up, agile engineering practices and all.  Necessarily because of this breadth, some sections aren't as deep as they could be, but this is not a bad thing, it gets you up to speed quickly and lets you know what you might need to read next; suggesting other excellent books if you need to know more about a topic.

I would thoroughly recommend this book to project managers, team leaders, and developers. By its nature Agile's purpose is to be flexible, and this book makes that point repeatedly and encourages you to use only what you need and what works for you. Because of this no two Agile processes are ever likely to be the same, so even if you have been working in an Agile way you'll still learn something new from this book and some particularly interesting sections are those that seem to have been borne from inside Thoughtworks. An example of this is the "Inception Deck" which is a great way to get the feel of a project and make sure you ask all the right questions before starting anything else.

However, as good as the content of the book is (and it really is great) it is slightly let down by the whole "Samurai" part. It feels a bit cheap and even looks like the book was written, and then "Samurai'd" afterwards. Some of the graphics are messy, and layouts are not as polished as I have come to expect from the Pragmatic Programmers and it really does detract from the whole experience. 

In a nutshell - 7/10


The clarity of the writing and advice
The new ideas from Thoughtworks
The scope of the book


The Samurai part - particularly the cheese Master and Apprentice sections.

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