The Book Agile Software Development

(ISBN 0201699699 ) is about developing software agilely (AgileSoftwareDevelopment), but is only one of the books on the subject.

It elaborates Alistair's ideas of SoftwareDevelopmentAsaCooperativeGame and how that underlies AgileSoftwareDevelopment. Also contains his "principles" for methodology design and an outline of his CrystalMethodologies family. Of the two appendices, one has of course a discussion of the AgileManifesto. The other contains reprints of some hard-to-find texts, specifically Pelle Ehn, Peter Naur, and the Japanese samurai master Musashi.

This seminal book on AgileSoftwareDevelopment won the 2001 JoltProductivityAward (awarded in July 2002). (Alistair's previous book, WritingEffectiveUseCases won the 2000 JoltProductivityAward (awarded in July 2001)! That's quite a pair of awards.)


Congratulations. The preface published on the AW web site immediately sucked me in. Metaphor is the vehicle for communicating ideas and your use of Software as poetry and a cooperative game is pragmatic, refreshing, and enduring. -- MichaelLeach


Congratulation from me too. I read the text published on the AlistairCockburn Website and was absolutely baffled. Really liked it so much I used the ideas from it to discuss furthering the introduction of agile methods in our small projects. Even did a powerpoint presentation on that. Now I am determined to read the book - the hardcopy that is - again. Thumbs up! -- RobertDietze

"...was absolutely baffled. Really liked it so much..." Now there's a turn of phrase I've not seen before !

OOps, bummer! Well, it was meant as "really, really astonished, enlightened, thunderstruck ...". Sometimes the meaning of the words is not quite the same of what I meant to mean. Blame it on my German origin. Btw. Is a German translation planned? -- RobertDietze
Translations now in German (Oct 2003), Japanese and Chinese. http://www.mitp.de/vmi/mitp/detail/pWert/1346/titel/Agile%20Software-Entwicklung can't find the link for the Japanese one (perhaps http://www.amazon.co.jp/exec/obidos/ASIN/4894715791/)
The PragmaticProgrammers love this book but there's a (long) not completely flattering review at Kuro5hin: http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2002/2/12/131955/237

And I think that review pretty much hits the nail on the head. I diagnose Alastair as having a bad case of discipline envy. Unusually for an IT type, the discipline he envies is not (some illusory version of) civil engineering, but some sort of po-mo sociolinguistic literary theoretical type thing. Now, I'm not complaining, that's a good thing for a senior figure in the industry to be interested in, but it does seem to lead him into overstating a few cases here and there. It's often very painful to read material written by po-mo sociolinguistic literary theoretical types who've pulled in a bunch of half-digested technical material (the end-point being the sort of thing AlanSokal? satirized), and sometimes Cockburn's writing has the same feel, but from the other side.

It's symptomatic of this condition, I think, that so much of his material is set in quite small type, and in two columns, very much like the more abstruse academic journals tend to be. There's a lot of value to be had from the books, papers and websites that he churns out at such a startling pace, but the reader has to keep an eye on him: the stories and metaphors do sometimes seem to be on the edge of taking on a life of their own, rather than being supports to or glosses of actual arguments. -- KeithBraithwaite
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