The Mythical Man Month Essays on Software Engineering

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Mythical Man-Month

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Few books on software project management have been as influential and timeless as The Mythical Man-Month. With a blend of software engineering facts and thought-provoking opinions, Fred Brooks offers insight for anyone managing complex projects. These essays draw from his experience as project manager for the IBM System/360 computer family and then for OS/360, its massive software system. Now, 20 years after the initial publication of his book, Brooks has revisited his original ideas and added new thoughts and advice, both for readers already familiar with his work and for readers discovering it for the first time.


The added chapters contain (1) a crisp condensation of all the propositions asserted in the original book, including Brooks’ central argument in The Mythical Man-Month: that large programming projects suffer management problems different from small ones due to the division of labor; that the conceptual integrity of the product is therefore critical; and that it is difficult but possible to achieve this unity; (2) Brooks’ view of these propositions a generation later; (3) a reprint of his classic 1986 paper “No Silver Bullet”; and (4) today’s thoughts on the 1986 assertion, “There will be no silver bullet within ten years.”

Why The Mythical Man-Month is Still Recommended Today

Still as relevant today as it was 40 years ago

“Brooks lays out a formalism to how to approach [people and process problems] that let teams deliver on the technology, a formalism that is as relevant now as it was 40 years ago, and I suspect, 40 years (or 400, if we are still around then) in the future as well.” —Michael McIntyre, Silently Failing blog

It’s a cautionary tale

“It has been almost 50 years since this book was published and we are still making the same mistakes while managing software projects. This cautionary tale should be read at least once by all engineers.” —Tomas Fernandez, Siemaphore blog

Gets software engineers to the next level

“In my opinion, understanding the art of programming systems product is one of many steps taking a good software engineer to the next level. The Mythical Man-Month was first published many years ago and still the perfect book for this topic…I thought it was no longer relevant in the age of Agile and Continuous Delivery at first, but I could not be more wrong.” —Kaga.Dev




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