Book Review - PSP - A Self-Improvement Process for Software Engineers by Watts S. Humphrey
As an IT professional and software developer, I'm all for standards and processes. PSP - A Self-Improvement Process for Software Engineers by Watts S. Humphrey (Addison-Wesley) outlines a personal methodology for improving your development efforts. But it's definitely not applicable to all environments...
Chapter List: The Personal Process Strategy; The Baseline Personal Process; Measuring Software Size; Planning; Software Estimating; The PROBE Estimating Method; Software Planning; Software Quality; Design and Code Reviews; Software Design; The PSP Design Templates; Design Verification; Process Extensions; Using The Personal Software Process; Index
From an overall perspective, I think the concepts in here are good and the book is well-written. Watts has devised a methodology that a developer can apply on their own to improve their coding, estimating, and defect resolution skills. This is done by extensive measurement and recording of statistic and time taken to accomplish certain tasks. These numbers are transferred to forms that can then be statistically analyzed to see the trends and make corrections in your techniques based on personal problem areas. The advantage that this methodology offers is that you don't have to get buy-in from an entire department in order to implement it. Conversely, PSP can be extended to apply to a team development environment in order to improve everyone's ability to work and develop code as a group.
Where I start to have issues is that it doesn't translate well to all environments. It's best applied to situations where you're developing programs with actual lines of code (like Java or C++) that allow you to do things like count lines of code, program sizes, or function points. It doesn't address rapid application development (RAD) environments like Lotus Notes/Domino very well, as "lines of code" is often next to nothing. Graphical design techniques that code underlying "plumbing" will make your numbers seem very small. Counting and tracking defects could be useful, but once again you'll often have to ignore stats related to defects per program size. You'll also need to be pretty comfortable with statistics to work with this methodology, as Watts gets into some pretty large formulas to generate the "score" of some of the tracking measures.
This is one of those books where if I were coding 15000 line Java programs, I might be really excited. Developing in a RAD environment makes me see a lot of this as unnecessary tracking for tracking's sake. But if you're a "true software engineer" in the most traditional sense, you'll probably find things in here that you'll want to try out.