Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Book Review: Grails in Action

I was lucky enough to get copy of the book Grails in Action from Manning. And of course I have promised to write review of the book.

My feelings about the book are somehow mixed. Basically book is divided into four parts:
  • Introducing Grails
  • Core Grails
  • Everyday Grails
  • Advanced Grails
The first two parts, Introducing Grails and Core Grails, are for more or less newcomers to the Grails so if you already have experience with Grails they are somehow boring. That wouldn't be a problem if my opinion wouldn't be that they are not written in an appropriate way for the Grails/Groovy beginners. My feeling is that beginners will get confused as the authors jump too much directly into action. So my advice for the beginners is to read e.g. Getting Started with Grails and then come back to the book Grails in Action.

But even if you already have Grails experience don't just skip over the first two parts, because after having some Grails foundation the first two parts become very useful and very easy understandable. Even for me (and I have some experience with Grails) there were useful information and discoveries.

Very good approach in this two parts from the authors is that they have devoted lot of energy to explain how to test Grails application. This is something I should definitely start to do on my own projects :)

The real fun comes with the second two parts - Everyday Grails and Advanced Grails. I have really enjoyed reading chapters from those parts. They are very nice and are really covering lot of skills you will need during real Grails projects.

In the third part authors are explaining how not to reinvent wheel by using number of available plugins. They show you how to fast and reliably put together advance features by reusing already existing functionality. I liked this approach and using it myself a lot.
There are also chapters devoted to workflows, exposing interface to outside world and using messaging.

After finishing third part you have really solid foundation to do some serious Grails development.

The fourth part is really advanced although I would include basic transactional behavior into at least third part of the book as this is probably more everyday grails than advanced grails. The fourth part will explain advance GORM related features, advance usage of spring and something you will for sure meet in the corporate environment - build and deploy process.

At the end I was very happy that I got a chance to read this book. This book will lead you from the beggining to the really advanced features of the Grails. If you are developing with Grails I am very sure you will have this book near you.
If you are just starting with Grails I would recommend, first read something simplier and then come back to this book. I am sure you will enjoy reading it.

And if you want to buy the book you can do it here :)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Book Review: Becoming Agile

When I started to think that majority of agile books are somehow breaking DRY (don't repeat yourself) principle I was lucky enough to get a copy of the book Becoming Agile: ...in an imperfect world.


What I liked the most in this book is that it is completely oriented to the real world. Therefore it will not try to teach you any of the existing agile frameworks but will help you to make your company (team) agile taking into account all constraints surrounding you. Book is oriented around agile principles and authors consider you environment agile if you are following agile manifesto principles.
Another value of the book is that agile introduction is taken from the complete beginning. From company readiness assessment up to the project deployment and spreading your agile process through out the whole company. The whole project lifecycle is covered. From the vision, through adapting idea to the deployment. This is something that I was missing the most in lot of books about agile.

Book follows imaginary company Acme media and its move toward more agile environment.
Getting started chapter will explain how to check your company readiness to adopt agile processes, ensure buy-in and inject agility into your existing process. When you have selected pilot project you are moving forward.

Kicking off
chapter explains how to make feasibility study and how to decide if you should continue or stop with the project.

If you decided to continue with the project Populating the product backlog chapter will show how to create product backlog, what means "just enough" for a feature card and how to estimate and prioritize the product backlog.

Enough information for scheduling creates release plan and explains in how much details you should plan your iterations. And don't forget that having plan is not enough. What you need is planning because during the project your plan will change for sure.

When you have release and iteration plan you can move to the Building the product chapter. You will see how to welcome change, how to apply agile principles into development and how to ensure that you have working software at the end of iteration.

Embracing change chapter cope with adapting to change requirements. It explains common reasons for requirement changes and how to adapt to them. Next parts of this chapter will show you how to plan deploying and how to improve your process using retrospective.

If your pilot project was successful you will want to spread the agile process throughout the company. The Moving forward chapter will help you with this process.

Rest of the book explains the whole process from two different points of view. In one chapter the overall diagram of the project lifecycle is displayed and shortly explained while another chapter contains text description of the overall process.

Although at the beginning I was not sure if I want to read this book I must admit I have really enjoyed reading the book. I believe that this book must be mandatory read for anyone who want to become member of agile community.
The only downside of the book is that it covers really wide area (complete project lifecycle) and thus after reading this book you will need to read other books to improve your knowledge about e.g. estimating, testing, writing good user stories...

I really recommend this book to everyone that already are or want to enter the agile world.