Reviewed: "Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering"

[ADT's PROGRAMMERS REPORT, January 14, 2003] -- One might open Robert L. Glass's Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering with hopeful anticipation. The book promises to embrace controversy and uncover the significant truths -- as well as the erroneous beliefs -- that haunt, rule and harry software development.

The promise is heightened early on when the author acknowledges that he took Alan M. Davis's book 201 Principles of Software Development [IEEE Computer Society, 1995] as something of a model as he crafted Facts and Fallacies. Davis's 201 Principles has been on the top of our shelf for many moons.

Unfortunately, though interesting, Glass's effort disappointed this reviewer. While it is useful as a collection of ideas that are very pertinent to the science of software building, in the end, it does not quite stand well as a book.

Davis gives something of an imprimatur to Glass's latest effort -- he pens a foreword. However, we can't compare it favorably with Davis's earlier effort.

201 Principles is pint-sized, almost a desktop pal, and Davis had a flair for the form he pursued. He added analysis, provided context, and often displayed insight as he presented a series of simply headlined (There is no perfect way to measure productivity; Avoid tricks; Avoid global variables; Record your assumptions, etc.) one-page principles he gleaned from extensive reading of other software experts' books and papers.

Facts and Fallacies , on the other hand, points in a lot of interesting directions, but serves more as a mere pointer. It is almost as though the author organized a collection of notes, put them in categorical folders and made some notations, all in preparation for writing another book.

Attached to each of Glass's entries are useful bibliographical references to such pivotal software tomes as The Mythical Man Month and Peopleware, as well as some of Glass's own admirable work. It is useful to point to these books, but the real thinking that will be useful to a vexed and overworked developer is in those books, not this one. Meanwhile, 201 Principles of Software Development is out of print and fetching a hefty price as a used book.

For more on Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering on the Addison-Wesley Web site, please go to,4096,0321117425,00.html

For more on 201 Principles of Software Development on the site link, please go to

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