How Software Is Built
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How Software Is Built

Software Quality Series: Vol. 1

About the Book

How Software Is Built tackles the first requirement for developing Quality Software (the name of this series of books): learning to think correctly about problems, solutions, and quality itself. The book sets out guidelines that stimulate the kind of thinking needed.

Topics include a discussion of quality, software cultures, patterns of quality, patterns of management, feedback effects, the size/complexity dynamic in software engineering, the role of customers, and how to diagram causes and effects.

The book contains chapter summaries and many invaluable diagrams, as well as exercises, to bring home its lessons. 

Here's a few of many five-star reviews:

"Weinberg addresses more clearly the form and essence of quality that we software people worry about... I can't imagine a better way to help change the thinking process in your organization than the wide-scale distribution of Jerry Weinberg's wonderful book." - Ed Yourdon, American Programmer

"I like Jerry Weinberg. He's a lunatic: I like that in a person. He writes from a technical and psychological perspective, describing how to think about what you do. . . . This series is one of my favorites." - Ron Jeffries,

"The notation is so elegant that it takes almost no effort to learn and use it. The diagrams are simple and easy to understand and used in such a consistent manner that one has to wonder why this notation is not in widespread use. I hope it will be. . . ." —Software Quality World

"A must book for every software development manager." —C.C. Dilloway Computer Books Review

". . . very highly recommended!"  —New Book Bulletin

"With the current frenzy for Total Quality Management, ISO 9000, and Baldrige Awards dominating the industry, it's refreshing to have someone as down-to-earth as Weinberg focusing on the need for high-quality management as a necessary prerequisite for high-quality software. . . . [a] people-oriented approach to quality."  —Warren Keuffel. Computer Language

"This is one of those landmark books that comes along at the right time and addresses the right set of issues. . . . what makes this book unique and invaluable is the organization and presentation of the material. This is a book every software development manager should study." —Shel Siegel. CASE Trends

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    • Agile
    • Systems Engineering
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About the Author

Gerald M. Weinberg
Gerald M. Weinberg

I've always been interested in helping smart people be happy and productive. To that end, I've published books on human behavior, including Weinberg on Writing: The Fieldstone Method, The Psychology of Computer Programming, Perfect Software and Other Fallacies, and an Introduction to General Systems Thinking. I've also written books on leadership including Becoming a Technical Leader, The Secrets of Consulting (Foreword by Virginia Satir), More Secrets of Consulting, and the nine-volume Quality Software series.

I try to incorporate my knowledge of science, engineering, and human behavior into all of my writing and consulting work (with writers, hi-tech researchers, software engineers, and people whose life-situation could require the use of a service dog). I write novels about such people, including The Aremac Project, Aremac Power, Jigglers, First Stringers, Second Stringers, The Hands of God, Freshman Murders, Where There's a Will There's a Murder, Earth's Endless Effort, and Mistress of Molecules—all about how my brilliant protagonists produce quality work and learn to be happy. My books that are not yet on Leanpub may be found as eBooks at <>; on Amazon at; and at Barnes and Noble bookstore:

Early in my career, I was the architect for the Project Mercury's space tracking network and designer of the world's first multiprogrammed operating system. I won the Warnier Prize, the Stevens Award, and the first Software Testing Professionals' Luminary Award, all for my writing on software quality. I was also elected a charter member of the Computing Hall of Fame in San Diego and chosen for the University of Nebraska Hall of Fame.

But the "award" I'm most proud of is the book, The Gift of Time (Fiona Charles, ed.) written by my student and readers for my 75th birthday. Their stories make me feel that I've been at least partially successful at helping smart people be happy.

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Table of Contents

  • How Software Is Built
  • New Preface
    • Preface
  • Part I Patterns Of Quality
    • Chapter 1: What Is Quality? Why Is It Important?
      • 1.1 A Tale Of Software Quality
      • 1.2 The Relativity of Quality
        • 1.2.1. Finding the relativity
        • 1.2.2 Who was that masked man?
      • 1.2.3 The political dilemma
      • 1.3 Quality Is Value To Some Person
      • 1.4 Another Story About Quality
      • 1.5. Why Improving Quality Is So Difficult
        • 1.5.1. “It’s not too bad.”
        • 1.5.2. “It’s not possible.”
        • 1.5.3. The lock-on
      • 1.6. Software Culture and Subcultures
      • 1.7. Helpful Hints and Suggestions
      • 1.8. Summary
      • 1.9. Practice
    • Chapter 2. Software Subcultures
      • 2.1 Applying Crosby’s Ideas to Software
        • 2.1.1 Conformance to requirements is not enough
        • 2.1.2 “Zero Defects” is not realistic in most projects
        • 2.1.3 There is an “economics of quality”
        • 2.1.4 Any pattern can be a success
        • 2.1.5 “Maturity” is not the right word
      • 2.2 Six Software Sub-Cultural Patterns
      • 2.3 Pattern 0: Oblivious
      • 2.4 Pattern 1: Variable
        • 2.4.1 The superprogrammer image
        • 2.4.2 When Pattern 1 is successful
        • 2.4.3 The ideal development structure
      • 2.5 Pattern 2: Routine (but Unstable)
        • 2.5.1 The super-leader image
        • 2.4.2 When Pattern 2 is successful
        • 2.4.3 The ideal development structure
      • 2.6 Pattern 3: Steering
        • 2.6.1 The competent manager
        • 2.6.2 When Pattern 3 is successful
        • 2.6.3 The ideal development structure
      • 2.7 Pattern 4: Anticipating
      • 2.8 Pattern 5: Congruent
      • 2.9. Helpful Hints and Variations
      • 2.10. Summary
      • 2.11. Practice
    • Chapter 3. What Is Needed To Change Patterns?
      • 3.1 Changing Thought Patterns
        • 3.1.1 Thought and communication in various patterns
        • 3.1.2 Using models to change thinking patterns
        • 3.1.3 How precise should the models be?
        • 3.1.4 What models do for us
      • 3.2 Choosing A Better Pattern
        • 3.2.1 Is your present pattern good enough?
        • 3.2.2 Organizational demands
        • 3.2.3 Customer demands
        • 3.2.4 Problem demands
        • 3.2.5 Choosing a point in “pattern space”
        • 3.2.6 The temptation to stagnate
      • 3.3 Opening Patterns to Information
        • 3.3.1 Circular argument
        • 3.3.2 The classic software circle
        • 3.3.3 The key to opening closed circles
        • 3.3.4 Developing trust
      • 3.4. Helpful Hints and Variations
      • 3.5. Summary
      • 3.6. Practice
  • Part II Patterns Of Managing
    • Chapter 4: Control Patterns for Management
      • 4.1 Shooting at Moving Targets
      • 4.2 The Aggregate Control Model
        • 4.2.1 Aggregation in the software industry as a whole
        • 4.2.2 Aggregation in a single organization
        • 4.2.3 Natural selection in a Pattern 1 Organization
        • 4.2.4 Why aggregation is popular in Pattern 2 organizations
        • 4.2.5 Aggregation in other patterns
      • 4.3 Patterns and Their Cybernetic Control Models
        • 4.3.1 The system to be controlled (the focus of Patterns 0 and 1)
      • 4.3.2 The controller (the focus of Pattern 2)
        • 4.3.3 Feedback control (the focus of Pattern 3)
      • 4.4 Engineering Management
        • 4.4.1 The job of management
        • 4.4.2. No plan for what should happen
        • 4.4.3. Failure to observe what significant things are really happening
        • 4.4.4. Failure to compare the observed with the planned
        • 4.4.5. Not taking action to bring actual closer to planned
      • 4.5. From Computer Science to Software Engineering
      • 4.6. Helpful Hints and Variations
      • 4.7. Summary
      • 4.8. Practice
    • Chapter 5 Making Explicit Management Models
      • 5.1 Why Things Go Awry
        • 5.1.1 The role of system models
        • 5.1.2. Implicit models
        • 5.1.3 Inability to face reality
        • 5.1.4 Incorrect models
      • 5.2 Linear Models and Their Fallacies
        • 5.2.1 Additivity fallacies
        • 5.2.2 Scaling fallacies
      • 5.3 The Diagram of Effects
      • 5.4 Developing a Diagram of Effects from Output Backwards
        • 5.4.1. Starting with the output
        • 5.4.2. Brainstorming backwards effects
        • 5.4.3. Charting the backwards effects
        • 5.4.4. Charting secondary effects
        • 5.4.5. Tracing the secondary effects
        • 5.4.6. Explicitly indicating multiplicative effects
      • 5.5. Non-linearity Is the Reason Things Go Awry
      • 5.6. Helpful Hints and Suggestions
      • 5.7. Summary
      • 5.8. Practice
    • Chapter 6: Feedback Effects
      • 6.1 The Humpty Dumpty Syndrome
      • 6.2 Runaway, Explosion and Collapse
        • 6.2.1. The Reversible Fallacy
        • 6.2.2. The Causation Fallacy
        • 6.2.3. Irreversiblity: explosion or collapse
      • 6.3. Act Early, Act Small
        • 6.3.1 Brooks’s Law made worse by management action
        • 6.3.2 The Generalized Brooks’s Law
      • 6.4. Negative Feedback—Why Everything Doesn’t Collapse
        • 6.4.1 A system waiting for a disaster to happen
        • 6.4.2 Negative feedback loops
        • 6.4.3 How feedback loops regulate
      • 6.5. Helpful Hints and Suggestions
      • 6.6. Summary
      • 6.7. Practice
    • Chapter 7: Steering Software
      • 7.1. Methodologies and Feedback Control
        • 7.1.1 Plans: the great contribution of Pattern 2
        • 7.1.2 Why pure sequential methods don’t always work
        • 7.1.3 Methodologies can discourage innovation
        • 7.1.4 Adding feedback to the methodology
        • 7.1.5 Keeping the feedback early and small
        • 7.1.5 Applying the feedback at different levels
    • 7.2. The Human Decision Point
      • 7.2.1 Intervention models and invisible states
        • 7.2.2 Visualizing the invisible
        • 7.3 It’s Not The Event That Counts, It’s Your Reaction To The Event
      • 7.4 Helpful Hints and Suggestions
      • 7.5 Summary
      • 7.6 Practice
    • Chapter 8: Failing to Steer
      • 8.1. “I’m Just a Victim”
        • 8.1.1. What distinguishes failures from successes?
        • 8.1.2 Victim language
      • 8.2. “I Don’t Want to Hear Any of That Negative Talk.”
      • 8.3. “I Thought I Was Doing The Right Thing.”
      • 8.4 Helpful Hints and Suggestions
      • 8.5 Summary
      • 8.6. Practice
  • Part III Demands That Stress Patterns
    • Chapter 9: Why It’s Always Hard to Steer
      • 9.1. The “Game of Control”
      • 9.1.1 The Square Law of Computation
        • 9.1.2 Control as a game
        • 9.1.3 How complex is chess?
        • 9.1.4 Computational complexity
        • 9.1.5 Simplification by general principles
        • 9.1.6 The Size/Complexity Dynamic
      • 9.2 The Size/Complexity Dynamic in Software Engineering
        • 9.2.1 The history of software
        • 9.2.2 The history of software engineering
        • 9.2.3. Games against Nature
        • 9.2.4. The Fault Location Dynamic
        • 9.2.5. The Human Interaction Dynamic
      • 9.3 Helpful Hints and Suggestions
      • 9.4 Summary
      • 9.5 Practice
    • Chapter 10: What It Takes To Be Helpful
      • 10.1 Reasoning Graphically about the Size/Complexity Dynamic
        • 10.1.1. Size vs. brainpower
        • 10.1.2 The size vs. effort curve
        • 10.1.3 Variation and the Log-Log Law
      • 10.2. Comparing Patterns and Technologies
        • 10.2.1. Comparing with a size/effort curve
        • 10.2.2 Seeing through the data
        • 10.2.3. Combining two methods into a composite pattern
        • 10.2.4. Choosing for reasons other than effort
        • 10.2.5. Reducing the risk of change
      • 10.3 Helpful Interactions
        • 10.3.1. Do no harm.
        • 10.3.2 The Helpful Model
        • 10.3.3 The Principle of Addition
        • 10.3.4. Adding to the repertoire of models
      • 10.4 Helpful Hints and Suggestions
      • 10.5 Summary
      • 10.6 Practice
    • Chapter 11: Responses to Customer Demands
      • 11.1 Customers Can Be Dangerous To Your Health
        • 11.1.1 More customers increase the development load
        • 11.1.2 More customers increase the maintenance load
        • 11.1.3 Close contact with customers can be disruptive
        • 11.1.4 You can be disruptive to your customers.
        • 11.1.5 What happens when you have many customers
      • 11.2 The Cast of Outsiders
        • 11.2.1 Customers and users
        • 11.2.2 The marketing department
        • 11.2.3 Other surrogates
        • 11.2.4 Programmers as self-appointed user surrogates
        • 11.2.5 Testers as official and unofficial surrogates
        • 11.2.6 Other unplanned surrogates
      • 11.3 Interactions With Customers
        • 11.3.1 The dynamics of interruption
        • 11.3.2. Interrupted meetings
        • 11.3.3 Meeting size and frequency
      • 11.4 Configuration Support
        • 11.4.1 Effects on test coverage and repair time
        • 11.4.2 Analyzing the testing situation externally—an Apple example
      • 11.5 Releases
        • 11.5.1 Pre- and post-release dynamics
        • 11.5.2 Multiple versions
        • 11.5.3 Release frequency
      • 11.6. Helpful Hints and Suggestions
      • 11.7. Summary
      • 11.8. Practice
  • What Next?

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