Getting Real

getting real

When a colleague recommended a book from 37singals, I was skeptical, to say the least, not because it is a bad company, but I do kind of find them very cocky, and also my first impression was "Isn't that going to be something about Ruby?". But  I gave it a try and liked it enough to write a few good words about it.
So what is this book about? In my opinion, it's about agile software development at its core, and to quote the authors, "Getting Real" is a book about:
The smarter, faster, easier way to build a successful web application.
When I started reading, it became obvious that this book is a great collection of short stories, tips, quotes, and lessons from various companies and software developers and not just 37signals. However, it had some outstanding ones from them also. In some places, the authors were direct about their standing, sometimes even cocky but definitely in an excellent way.

Getting Real is about doing software with fewer features, fewer docs, and less of everything essential. The author's goal is to show a way of doing the software version of the famous Einstein's quote:
"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."
The books are organized in various chapters about "priorities," "staffing," "code"... where there are great lessons like:
  • "It's a problem when it's a problem." 
  • "Hire the Right Customer"
  • "You can't Fake Enthusiasm."
  • "Actions, Not Words" and,
  • "Start with No." 
While I can't say that I agree with them on all of the lessons, I can say for sure it's a book that should be on every programmer's reading list. Another awesome thing is that even though the book can be ordered in hard copy from places like Amazon, 37signals have made it available for free in pdf on the book's site.
I will finish with a quote found in the introduction that is not originally intended for software development, but it fits like a glove:
Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.
                        -    William Strunk Jr., Elements of Style

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