Tuesday, 18 May 2010

User Stories Applied – For Agile Software Development


by Mike Cohn
ISBN: 978-0321205681

After reading Agile Estimating and Planning, also by Mike Cohn, I was rather disappointed with User Stories Applied. Then I saw that Agile Estimating and Planning was published in November 2005 and User Stories Applied was published twenty months earlier in march 2004. A lot of the material in User Stories Applied forms the basis for and is expanded in Agile Estimating and Planning. Therefore I have come to the conclusion that Mike Cohn spent the twenty months between the two books improving as a writer! However, I think there is great scope for merging the two books and coming up with a better title. There is not enough user story based material here for a single book.

Only about half the book is actually about writing user stories. The other sections cover things like planning and testing. There is also some discussion about identifying roles within a system which, on the first read, felt a bit thin. Then when the case study came at the end and I had had chance to think about user roles in my own context I started see how useful defining them could be.

As you would expect, user stories are talked about in a reasonable amount of depth and most of the advice seems good to me. One of the main points I liked was the clear explanation of how user stories differ from tradition requirements capture and upfront design.

Mike Cohn asks questions at the end of each chapter. At the end of the book there are two appendices. One giving an introduction to XP and the other the answers to the questions.

Overall User Stories Applied is a little bit killer, but mostly filler.

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