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Review Release It! Design and Deploy Production-Ready Software

Discussion in 'Articles, Reviews and Interviews' started by tripwire45, May 2, 2007.

  1. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

    Author: Michael T Nygard
    Format: Paperback, 326 pages
    Publisher: Pragmatic Bookshelf (March 30, 2007)
    ISBN-10: 0978739213
    ISBN-13: 978-0978739218

    Review by James Pyles
    May 1, 2007

    Once upon a time (or should that be "Long, long ago in a..." but I digress), I worked for a software startup company where time and man-(people)-power were limited. At one point or another, we all wore a variety of hats including tech support and (gasp) software testers. It's an incredibly daunting and involved task and the company was always struggling to define just when they could/should release the next version of their product. They eventually went under (not because the product was bad but because of more "administrative issues"...but that's another story) and I was released from the responsibility of wearing many hats. Still, the fascination of designing, testing, and deploying software has never really left me.

    A sentence from the back cover caught my attention: "If you're a developer and don't want to be on call at 3 a.m. for the rest of your life, this book will help". Up until a few months ago, I worked with a group of software engineers who designed and deployed software apps for an enterprise (read "multinational") environment and they all took turns on call. Not that they didn't do good work (they did and do very good work) but I started wondering if they might want to add Deploy It! to their library.

    Last November, my book PC Technician Street Smarts (Sybex) was published. The unique thing about the book is instead of including all of the canned examples about installing RAM or troubleshooting a dodgy NIC, I took a collection of trouble tickets I collected from my former life as a desktop support tech, and used them to teach up and coming techs what the real world of support is like (ok, enough self-promotion). On a much, much grander scale, Michael Nygard did the same thing.

    The really funky thing about software testing is that the testing scenarios are always artificial. The best testers I worked with back in the day, were the actual customers. They put the products through situations none of the designers had ever dreamed of and found amazingly new ways to break things. Wouldn't it be great if, as a software engineer, you could have a resource at your fingertips that would teach design and deployment from the same point of view...the real world point of view? Perhaps now you do.

    The real value of Deploy It! is rooted in embarrassment. Real life design and deployment situations that went completely toes up. Who wants to publish mistakes? What do we learn best from? Chapter 2 is titled Case Study: The Exception That Grounded an Airline. What can we learn from mistakes? How to do it better next time...especially if you're talking about real mistakes and not situations invented for the sake of writing a book.

    I can just see the faces of some of the engineers I know as they read this book. They're shaking their heads, grimacing, wincing, and trying to crawl inside themselves as they recall situations where they faced the same challenges. Of course, a book like Nygard's might prevent a few of those occurrences in the future. The cogs in their brains begin to spin.

    It doesn't take a rocket scientist or a software engineer to see that Release IT! Design and Deploy Production-Ready Software belongs in the hands of "architects, designers, and developers of enterprise-class software systems", to quote the book's front matter. If that's you or if you want it to be you someday, pick up a copy of this book. Besides reading it, you might want to keep it by on your night stand...just in case your phone rings at 3 a.m. You never know when you might need that extra bit of help.
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