Software Mythbuster

I just read the book The Leprechauns of Software Engineering from Laurent Bossavit. It talks about a a few common “facts” of software development that are not facts at all. They are just merely anecdotal. Unfortunately they are heavily used to support other claims.

These facts originate in some older papers that are referenced from other papers, which are referenced from other papers, which are…. I guess you get the idea.

By all this referencing the original information changed and also gained some kind of authority that is not justified.

Laurent tracked down the primary sources (listing the references) and their hypotheses. Showing that our “facts” are based on very limited data that magically gets generalized and that some papers used obscure metrics which compare apples and oranges.

The “facts” he dissects in details are the Cone of Uncertainty, 10x variation in software developers & cost of defects.

While I never thought of these “facts” and their pictures as “real facts” to the numbers (but more or less as some kind of trend) it is still surprising that their supporting data is so weak. We do not really know if the trends they describe are real or not. There is too less data to “verify” their claim even if they feel right.

Definitely an interesting read!


Amazon(.de) is completely useless for Software eBooks…

So, everyone is reading eBooks today. So do I.

Interesting is, while I bought most paper books in the past on I don’t buy software eBooks on

What happend? Not much, the problem is simply that just offers kindle/mobi format. Personally, with iBook as my prefered ebook reader, I would like to get them in pub format. Amazon, pub? ehhhh, no.

Second, I also like to have my software ebooks as pdf because they are easier to read on the desktop machine. At home on the Mac and on Windows at work. Amazon, pdf? ehhhh, no again.

So where possible I buy ebooks directly on the publisher website, Manning, PragProg, O’Reilly because they offer all three formats for a single buy. You buy the ebook and you get all three formats. :)

That looks like a good deal for me. So why should I buy a software ebook on For me, there is no reason to do so.

But not all is lost for amazon. :-) For non software ebooks I don’t care that they are kindle only… ;-)

How’s your experience?