Ship it!
A Practical Guide to Successful Software Projects
By Jared Richardson, William A. Gwaltney
Publisher: Pragmatic Bookshelf
Final Release Date: June 2005
Pages: 200

Ship It! is a collection of tips that show the tools andtechniques a successful project team has to use, and how to use themwell. You'll get quick, easy-to-follow advice on modernpractices: which to use, and when they should be applied. This bookavoids current fashion trends and marketing hype; instead, readersfind page after page of solid advice, all tried and tested in thereal world.

Aimed at beginning to intermediate programmers, Ship It! will show you:

  • Which tools help, and which don't
  • How to keep a project moving
  • Approaches to scheduling that work
  • How to build developers as well as product
  • What's normal on a project, and what's not
  • How to manage managers, end-users and sponsors
  • Danger signs and how to fix them

Few of the ideas presented here are controversial or extreme; most experiencedprogrammers will agree that this stuff works. Yet 50 to 70 percent of allproject teams in the U.S. aren't able to use even these simple, well-acceptedpractices effectively. This book will help you get started.

Ship It! begins by introducing the common technicalinfrastructure that every project needs to get the job done. Readerscan choose from a variety of recommended technologies according totheir skills and budgets. The next sections outline the necessarysteps to get software out the door reliably, using well-accepted,easy-to-adopt, best-of-breed practices that really work.

Finally, and most importantly, Ship It! presents commonproblems that teams face, then offers real-world advice on how tosolve them.

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Essential habits

By Simon Mawkes

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Ship it!:

If you want to produce reliable software, then this is the book on how. The authors have done a fantastic job of collating essential software building habits in a clear and concise book. Even if you already know that build scripts, testing harnesses, continuous integration and code reviews aid in building great code, the book provides tips on how to get started and integrate these practices as routine activities.

As a developer, I found the section on "Common Problems and How to Fix Them" particularly relevant and particularly liked the suggestions on how to both inform and sell to management. The authors have recommended their favourite tools and products, and listed many alternatives. Though easy to read, it's packed with practicality and subsequent reviews will remind you of more tidbits to add to your bag of tricks.


Highly Recommended!

By Mitch Wheat

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Ship it!:

If you are familiar with the "The Pragmatic Programmer"(written by Andy Hunt and Dave Thomas) then you will probably recognise the Pragmatic Bookshelf series of books, set up by Hunt and Thomas, in which Ship It! is included. This series of books sets itself apart by emphasising the practical aspects of delivering software, and also doing it well.

The book is split into the following chapters:

' Introduction

' Tools and Infrastructure

' Pragmatic Project Techniques

' Tracer Bullet Development

' Common Problems and How to Fix Them

From the very first chapter, the authors make it clear 'Ship It!' is not another methodology, "There is no single, right way to develop software. There are a lot of wrong ways,". Instead, they have gathered together the 'best' bits' of various styles and methodologies they have been directly involved with, and combined them into a practical approach with the focus on delivering a project. The authors do not expect you to necessarily implement everything they suggest all at once. Adopt one or two at time and determine if they work in your environment. This practical stance is reinforced throughout the book. A selection of the topics examined can be broadly listed as follows:

' Use source control (for anything you want to keep)

' Automate your build (one click)

' Use continuous integration

' Track issues and features

' Write tests and automate them

' Use mocking

' Build end-to-end stubbed systems (Tracer Bullet Development)

' Build teams and foster communication

It is easy to read and feels fresh. As another reviewer pointed out, "It's a rare book that speaks convincingly to both developers and managers, but this one does a good job". There is a definite emphasis on the positive; it is about how to make projects succeed rather than a post-mortem of why they fail. The chapter "Common Problems and How to Fix Them" is a gem, with practical advice for developers, managers and customers.

In Appendix E: Issue Tracking Systems, I was surprised to see that Gemini from CounterSoft ( was not mentioned. I have implemented it at several sites with minimal effort and it has been used by developers and users with great success.

In Tracer bullet development, I agree with the approach to the end-to-end working 'stubbed' systems, but I would also add that methods should also be written in such a way that the release version will throw an exception in any method that has not been implemented (rather than just returning a dummy value). Otherwise, years from now, you might find yourself mentioned on the DailyWTF! In some ways, it would have been nice to have had a worked code example for this section, but I realise the authors did not want to limit themselves to one particular language and restrict the reach of this book; I think they made the right decision.

If you are an experienced developer, then you probably will not find anything revolutionary or truly new amongst its 200 pages, but you might find something that your current routine is missing. Is this book worth reading? Absolutely. I would not hesitate for a moment in saying go out and buy it. Highly recommended.

Disclosure: The Perth .NET User Group is a member of the O'Reilly User Group and Professional Association Program. O'Reilly make copies of their books available for user group libraries, and the copy reviewed here was kindly donated by O'Reilly. That said, it was not a factor in reviewing this book


A Bundle of Ideas

By Ed Gibbs

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Ship it!:

Ship It! exceeded my expectations. I picked it up a few days ago expecting to glean some new ideas from it. I mean we already have source control, unit tests, daily standups, and automated builds. It seemed aimed at developers new to many of these concepts.

I've been pleasantly surprised that while it does cover a good bit of familiar ground it does cover a host of new ideas from buddy/mini code reviews in place of pair programming to how to deal with "Tumbleweed Developers".

And on top of that it's a nice fast read. Highly recommended. (

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