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Ship It!: A Practical Guide to Successful Software Projects


Cover image for Ship It!

Ship It!

A Practical Guide to Successful Software Projects


Many software projects run into trouble, and many never ship at all. Others run like well-oiled machines. This book shows you the basics of how to get your project well on the road to success.

Ship It! bucks current fashion trends and marketing hype; instead, you’ll find page after page of solid advice, all tried and tested in the real world: a collection of tips that show you what tools a successful team has to use, and how to use them well. You’ll get quick, easy-to-follow advice on modern techniques and when they should be applied.

Customer Reviews

It’s rare to have this much fun reading a book about software. The ideas are smart, relevant, and fundamental. I can be a better programmer today because of the things I read today.

- Joe Fair


A great book! The authors have done a great job in presenting the subject in a neutral way and avoiding any methodology-oriented traps.

- Roberto Gianassi

IT Consultant

This is fantastic stuff. As I started reading, I almost fell out of my seat because the project I’m on right now is going through exactly the hurt you describe and would benefit greatly from material just like this.

- Matthew Bass

Software Engineer

Ship It! exceeded my expectations… I’ve been pleasantly surprised that while it does cover a good bit of familiar ground it does cover a host of new ideas from buddy/mini code reviews in place of pair programming to how to deal with “Tumbleweed Developers”. And on top of that it’s a nice fast read. Highly recommended.

- Ed Gibbs

that’s the sign of a great book… you walk away with a few action items that will change what you do today, not sometime in the future. This is really a “required read” for all software developers, and the sooner you read it, the better.

- Thomas Duff

That’s got to be one of the best choices of title since the Mythical Man Month!

- Kenneth Sizer

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About this Title

Pages: 206
Published: 2005-06-01
Release: P6.0 (2016-07-19)
ISBN: 978-0-9745-1404-8

Few of the ideas presented here are controversial or extreme; most experienced programmers will agree that this stuff works. Yet 50 to 70 percent of all project teams in the U.S. aren’t able to use even these simple, well-accepted practices effectively. This book will help you get started.

Ship It! begins by introducing the common technical infrastructure that every project needs. Readers can choose from a variety of recommended technologies according to their skills and budgets to get the job done. The next section outlines the necessary steps to get software out the door reliably, using well-accepted, easy-to-adopt, best-of-breed practices that really work.


  • Use the right tools to guide and protect your project, and tame those that can hurt you
  • Effectively manage features and issues to keep both users and managers happy
  • Improve everyone’s communication and collaboration using simple techniques
  • Recognize how great developers and great managers work in concert—and how to fix it when they don’t
  • Know how to answer the Frequently Asked Questions and fix the common problems that everyone faces on modern projects

Finally, and most importantly, Ship It! presents common problems and danger signs that arise and offers real-world advice on how to solve them, in the widely-accepted form of a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions).

Some popular methodologies are based on academic theory or one-off, lucky projects. The practices, ideas, and tools presented here were born in the real world, and represent the best of modern software development techniques with a few novel twists and helpful insights.

This book is suitable for anyone interested in applying pragmatic principles to modern software development.

This book is for you if:

  • You’re frustrated at lack of progress on your project.
  • You want to make yourself and your team more valuable.
  • You’ve looked at methodologies such as Extreme Programming (XP) and felt they were too, well, extreme.
  • You’ve looked at the Rational Unified Process (RUP) or CMM/I methods and cringed at the learning curve and costs.
  • You need to get software out the door without excuses

In short, you need this book if you want to Ship It!.



Jared Richardson is a programmer, speaker, author, and trainer. He helps teams build better software through his company Agile Artisans. In addition to this book, he’s a contributer to the No Fluff Just Stuff Anthology 2006 and 2007 editions. Since becoming an independent consultant, Jared spends most of his time trying to avoid mowing the grass.

Will Gwaltney is a software developer with over 20 years experience. In that time he hasn’t quite seen it all, but he’s seen most of it (and a lot of it hasn’t been pretty). He’s worked at both large companies and start-ups in the fields of electronics CAD, networking, telecommunications, knowledge representation, and web-based planning and scheduling for the enterprise. Will currently works on test automation at SAS Inc., the largest privately-owned software company in the world.