I really enjoyed this book. I was surprised how often Joel had me laughing out loud, he really is a good writer. The book is broken down into nine sections.
- Managing People
- Advice to Potential Programmers
- The Impact of Design
- Managing Large Projects
- Programming Advice
- Starting a Software Business
- Running a Software Business
- Releasing Software
- Revising Software
Joel has a lot of experience in programming and in running a software business, and has lots of interesting stories to tell. In fact chapter one is titled My First BillG Review, its a story about Joel’s first meeting with Bill Gates, where Bill reviewed Joel’s 500 page spec on Excel Basic.
Joel covers a lot of interesting topics, including finding and keeping great developers, different management styles, running a software business, and revising code.
I especially liked his thoughts on estimating. He uses something called Evidence Based Scheduling. EBS is a system where you keep track of estimated hours vs actual hours. The math gets a little complicated, you can read about in detail on Joel’s site (or the book), but basically its a way to accurately estimate projects. Regardless of if the developer estimating tends to over or under estimate, the formula works all this out. It sounds like a really neat system. Joel’s popular project management software FogBugz supports EBS.
All the content of the book is available on his blog for free, but it is nicely organized in the book and it has some updates. Its a bargain at $16 on Amazon, and I enjoy reading stuff like this in book format rather than on a computer screen. This is a book that I will be hanging on to.