Review of "Agile Software Development"

Agile Software Development, by Alistair Cockburn. ISBN 020169969-9.

An unusually philosophical book about software development. Cockburn presents not a development methodology but a meta-methodology; a methodologyology, perhaps. (If we used words more sensibly, I’d say: not a method but a methodology. But the terminology is entrenched.) His meta-methodology is all about flexibility; flexibility in tailoring the approach to the project, and flexibility of the approach once chosen.

Cockburn (rightly, and typically for a proponent of agile methodologies) focuses on people rather than processes, and on the smooth flow of information (which he likens to convection currents, aided by "information radiators" like whiteboards) around the team.

The book is very accessibly written: clear, informal language, plenty of "soundbites", no shyness about writing in the first person. On the downside, it seemed a bit rambling to me. (That may indicate merely that I don’t have enough experience to be able to appreciate all the connections yet.)

Each chapter ends with a brief section headed "What should I do tomorrow?", in which Cockburn lists some observations to make and some ways in which you may be able to improve your own workplace.