Thursday, October 19, 2006

Book Review: Extreme Programming for Web Projects

Knocking off another from my stack of books to review.

Extreme Programming for Web Projects by Doug Wallace, Isobel Raggett, Joel Aufgang

Addison-Wesley Professional (2002)

ISBN 0201794276

This book's premise is an interesting one: Does XP work for web projects, and if so then how does one go about implementing it? The authors are up front about the first question in the opening to Chapter 1: "Sort of" they say. The book's entire content struck me as a continuation of that statement.

The book attempts to be a bit too general in many aspects: there's a lot of high-level coverage of XP tenets without much utility specific to web development. The general coverage of XP is nice, but you'll find better content in other works; however, the authors didn't intend for this to be a seminal work on XP anyway, so that's not a big issue.

Several sections do provide good information specific to XP in web development, such as Chapter 8 (Graphics Design) and its emphasis on how to wrap customers in to the process early. Another example would be the discussion in Chapter 11 (Planning) on how the "customer" in web development differs a bit from what XP usually considers a "customer."

There's also a lot of good discussion at a high level on how the use of XML vice static HTML as data can greatly benefit the development process. There are good overviews of XML in general, XSLT from 30,000 feet, and a nice blurb on how the Tidy tool can help you keep out of trouble.

The downside of this book is that too often it stretches too far to make the connection between XP and web development. It's not detailed enough as a reference for implementing XP practices, and it doesn't do a good enough job of tying web development into XP for those looking to solve that problem.

The book is concise and well-written, but that doesn't make up for its fundamental weaknesses.

(As always, keep in mind my review disclaimer.)

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