Agile SCM 2005 - Reflecting back on the year in books

We thought 2005 was a pretty gosh darn great year for Agile Software Development and Software Configuration Management alike. We wanted to share what we feel are some of the timeless classics that we have most looked to throughout the year, as well as the new books in the last year that we have been most impressed with.

Hello! My name is Brad Appleton, and I'm a book-a-holic! Hear my serenity prayer:

Lord, please grant me ... the serenity to accept that I can't read everything, the time to read and understand everything that I can, the wisdom to know the difference [so I won't have to leave my estate to] , and a sufficiently well-read network of friends [to tell me all about the books they've read] .

We thought 2005 was a pretty gosh darn great year for Agile and Software CM alike. We wanted to share what we feel are some of the timeless classics that we have most looked to throughout the year, as well as the new books in the last year that we have been most impressed with.

Let's start off with "the classics"!

We're not pretending these are the "only" classics, or even the "best" of the classics. These are just the ones from our personal list that we have found ourselves referring to most during 2005. A few of them might be surprising. In a later section we'll tackle some books that aren't really classics just yet, but we hope they will be someday soon.

Software Fundamentals: Collected Papers of David Parnas

Parnas' papers are most definitely fundamental classics in the field software development for software architecture, software requirements, and software process. He is considered the "father" of encapsulation and the principle of information hiding. His papers on program families and designing software for ease of extension and contraction apply every bit as much to configuration management as they do to software design. 

I'm proud to have played a part in the creation of this book. I had the initial idea for it, mostly because I wanted it to exist and when I found out it didn't, I felt very strongly that it ought to. When asked if I wanted to be the one to collect the papers together into a book, I said (in my best Wayne and Garth voice) "I'm not worthy", but I knew David Weiss (through Jim Coplien) and was able to get him interested enough in the project to turn it into reality!

Are Your Lights On? and Becoming a Technical Leader , by Weinberg and Gause

Gerald Weinberg has authored and co-authored so many classic books , it's extremely difficult to choose just one or two. Steve likes these two because they are so timelessly helpful in problem-solving, and in working with others to lead problem-solving efforts.

Are Your Lights On?: How to Figure Out What the Problem Really Is is a bit of an easy-to-read "primer" on General Systems Thinking . One problem people encounter when they use SCM tools and techniques is that they do "too much," and their system ends up hindering rather than helping them. This book is not about SCM but rather how to figure out what is really wrong in a system. It is an entertaining read that teaches an important and often undervalued skill. This books is about figuring out what the problem really is before going off and "solving" it. A must for agile teams.

Becoming a Technical Leader: An Organic Problem-Solving Approach is a must-read not just for all would-be technical leaders, but for anyone trying to champion change in their workplace processes (be it CM-related or Agile-related). It's a great book at helping us understand ourselves and how we can help others understand and express their voice so that we can all put our heads together, collaboratively. What else is there to say - the title says it all!

Code Complete ,


About the author

Steve Berczuk's picture Steve Berczuk

Steve Berczuk is a Principal Engineer and Scrum Master at Fitbit. The author of Software Configuration Management Patterns: Effective Teamwork, Practical Integration, he is a recognized expert in software configuration management and agile software development. Steve is passionate about helping teams work effectively to produce quality software. He has an M.S. in operations research from Stanford University and an S.B. in Electrical Engineering from MIT, and is a certified, practicing ScrumMaster. Contact Steve at or visit and follow his blog at

About the author

Brad Appleton's picture Brad Appleton

Brad Appleton is a software CM/ALM solution architect and lean/agile development champion at a large telecommunications company. Currently he helps projects and teams adopt and apply lean/agile development and CM/ALM practices and tools. He is coauthor of the book Software Configuration Management Patterns, a columnist for the CMCrossroads and AgileConnection communities at,  and a former section editor for The C++ Report. You can read Brad's blog at

About the author

Robert Cowham's picture Robert Cowham

Robert Cowham has long been interested in software configuration management while retaining the attitude of a generalist with experience and skills in many aspects of software development. A regular presenter at conferences, he authored the Agile SCM column within the CM Journal together with Brad Appleton and Steve Berczuk. His day job is as Services Director for Square Mile Systems whose main focus is on skills and techniques for infrastructure configuration management and DCIM (Data Center Infrastructure Management) - applying configuration management principles to hardware documentation and implementation as well as mapping ITIL services to the underlying layers.

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