1.1 Brooks, Humphrey, Weinberg, Davis, and McConnel

category: Chapter Section
by Alexis Leon

What have Frederick Brooks, Watts Humphrey, Gerald Weinberg, Alan Davis, and Steve McConnell, in common? They are all authors of bestselling books that have transformed the software profession.

Brooks is a software engineer and computer scientist, best known for managing the development of OS/360, then later writing candidly about the process in his seminal book “The Mythical Man-Month.” Mythical Man-Month changed the way software was developed and Brooks’s law became one of the most important laws of software project management and Brooks became a cult figure in the software engineering field.

Humphrey is also a software engineer, key thinker in the discipline of software engineering, and is often called the father of software quality. His books Managing the Software Process and A Discipline for Software Engineering are ‘must reads’ for software engineers.

Weinberg is author or co-author of several hundred articles and more than 30 books. In 1971 he published the book The Psychology of Computer Programming, which is considered by many the beginning of the study of software engineering as human behavior.

Davis is a software engineer and has held numerous teaching and consulting positions in various organizations and universities around the world. He has written five books and in 2006 his book 201 Principles of Software Development was voted by ACM members as one of the 20 classic computer science books.

McConnell is an author of many software engineering textbooks including Code Complete, Rapid Development, and Software Estimation. In 1998, McConnell was named as one of the three most influential people in the software industry by Software Development Magazine, along with Bill Gates and Linus Torvalds. Code Complete is considered as a software engineer’s Bible.

What is the secret behind the phenomenal success of these authors? Their books have passed the test of time and remain as bestsellers. They continue to influence the new generation of software engineers as they did the earlier generations. Their lecture tours are fully booked and they speak before jam-packed audiences.

These authors are great speakers and excellent in written and oral communication; they have the ability to explain and illustrate complex topics in simple terms that even a novice can understand; they have comprehensive knowledge of their areas of specialization; they have years of experience in dealing with real-life problems (both technical and management) and solving them; they continue to learn; they contribute immensely to the development of the profession by teaching, mentoring, and writing; and they work real hard.

If a person has all these attributes and if he or she decides to write a book, the chances of that book becoming a success are very high. The reason is that the book such a person write will be interesting, easy-to-read and understand, engaging, and will give practical know-how and wisdom that a professional can right away apply to his/her work.

In this book we will see how to write a book that will be interesting, engaging, readable and of practical value. We will examine the successful authors and their secrets and will find out how some people continue to write bestsellers while majority of the professionals do not even think about writing a book.

[Note: This is the first draft of the book. I would require your comments, suggestions and feedback to make the book more useful, interesting, and as error free as possible. Please send your comments, suggestions and feedback to me.]

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