Welcome!

.NET Authors: Pat Romanski, Bob Gourley, Michael Jannery, Yakov Fain, Srinivasan Sundara Rajan

Related Topics: Java, XML, SOA & WOA, Websphere, Weblogic, .NET, AJAX & REA

Java: Book Review

Book Review: The Essence of Software Engineering

Applying the SEMAT Kernel

I have had the opportunity to lead dozens of software development projects which I love doing. I have also had the opportunity to watch dozens of software development project from the sidelines, while working on my own project, or in place as a consultant to accomplish something other than run the development process.

From the sidelines I have seen some succeed, some crash and burn, and the rest get close enough to success that the team can sell it as a success. Sometimes the later takes a heck of a sales job. I would say in my book 80% of those sold as successes failed. They either came in well over budget, well beyond their projected delivery date, or delivered such buggy software that the maintenance effort was as big as the development effort. Success to the team simply meant they considered the project over. You will find of those project teams run as fast as they can instead of doing a retrospective study.

The hard and sad part of watching the projects flop is that they are so predictable. A lot of times I find an environment has just come to terms with the fact that all the projects will come in late, over budget, and buggy. They have accepted reaching the end of the project as the only measure of success. You will usually find those environments are running in fire mode. Meaning the highest priorities for the day are the hottest fires and there are fires for everyone every day. They can't see it, but even there larger strategic projects are reacting to fires. They never get ahead, they just keep slowly slipping further behind.

So by now you are probably wondering what all that blather has to do with this book? To be able to recognize a project that is going off-track takes years of experience. The SEMAT Kernel provides a set of tools that enable those, that would normally not have enough experience to recognize when the project is going off-track, to be able to. The book is broken down into seven parts. I have listed each part below with the chapters they contain.

Part I: The Kernel Idea Explained
1. A Glimpse of How the Kernel Can Be Used
2. A Little More Detail about the Kernel
3. A 10,000-Foot View of the Full Kernel
4. The Kernel Alphas Made Tangible with Cards
5. Providing More Details to the Kernel through Practices
6. What the Kernel Can Do for You

Part II: Using the Kernel to Run an Iteration
7. Running Iterations with the Kernel: Plan-Do-Check-Adapt
8. Planning an Iteration
9. Doing and Checking the Iteration
10. Adapting the Way of Working
11. Running an Iteration with Explicit Requirement Item States

Part III: Using the Kernel to Run a Software Endeavor
12. Running a Software Endeavor: From Idea to Production
13. Building the Business Case
14. Developing the System
15. Operating the Software

Part IV: Scaling Development with the Kernel
16. What Does It Mean to Scale?
17. Zooming In to Provide Details
18. Reaching Out to Different Kinds of Development
19. Scaling Up to Large and Complex Development

Part V: How the Kernel Changes the Way You Work with Methods
20. Thinking about Methods without Thinking about Methods
21. Agile Working with Methods

Part VI: What’s Really New Here?
22. Refounding Methods
23. Separation of Concerns Applied to Methods
24. The Key Differentiators

Part VII: Epilogue
25. This Is Not the End
26. ... But Perhaps It Is the End of the Beginning
27. When the Vision Comes True

Appendixes
Appendix A. Concepts and Notation
Appendix B. What Does This Book Cover with Respect to the Kernel?

This book is not about defining or executing a new software development process, so don't expect to find how to create user stories, manage a product backlog, implement an instance of the RUP, or document your software architecture. This book is about the essential elements that are part of every software development process and how to recognize their current state in order to understand where you are in the process of your choice. It also walks you through the process of assembling a method from activities you have selected to use.

The kernel is broken down into three areas of concern which include Customer, Solution, and Endeavor. Each area of concern encapsulates alphas (things that progress and evolve) and activities.

Alphas include Opportunity, Stakeholders, Requirements, Software System, Team, Work, and Way of Working. Each of these have six different states attached to them which reflect their maturity.

The book defines activity spaces as explore possibilities, understand stakeholder needs, ensure stakeholder satisfaction, use the system, understand the requirements, shape the system, implement the system, test the system, deploy the system, operate the system, prepare to do the work, coordinate activity, support the team, track progress, and stop the work.

The next step the book takes is to assemble the alphas and activities into practices. An example of a practice would be a requirements elicitation practice. The practices are then used to build methods.

One really nice thing this book does is provide a common vocabulary that can be use across processes. Meaning that no matter what process you are using the kernel's alphas and activities apply. This will make it easier to see the different processes for what they really are at their core and make them easier to understand.

One thing I would have like to see different with this book is the alphas full checklist be used instead of the short-form, or at least have the long form list included in an appendix. You can get the full checklist from the Essence – Kernel and Language for Software Engineering Methods which is on the SEMAT web site. This does not take anything away from the book, it is just a pet peeve of mine. I don't like when a book provides less detail than the free specifications available on line.

I have found some books that are just summaries of the online work and you end up being pointed to that work in every chapter. That is not the case with this book, there is a lot of information in this book you won't find in the specs on line. The format and writing style of the book also makes reading the book much more pleasurable than reading the Essence – Kernel and Language for Software Engineering Methods OMG submission.

Overall I found this book to be a breath of fresh air. It is hard to find any pure software engineering process books anymore. They all tend to be a rehash of all the latest agile processes out there, which are all just reworks of all the iterative processes out there. The book and its material is very usable. I highly recommend this book to anyone with any role in the software development field.

The Essence of Software Engineering: Applying the SEMAT Kernel

More Stories By Tad Anderson

Tad Anderson has been doing Software Architecture for 18 years and Enterprise Architecture for the past few.

@ThingsExpo Stories
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, data security and privacy.
IoT is still a vague buzzword for many people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed the business value of IoT that goes far beyond the general public's perception that IoT is all about wearables and home consumer services. He also discussed how IoT is perceived by investors and how venture capitalist access this space. Other topics discussed were barriers to success, what is new, what is old, and what the future may hold. Mike Kavis is Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Pa...
Dale Kim is the Director of Industry Solutions at MapR. His background includes a variety of technical and management roles at information technology companies. While his experience includes work with relational databases, much of his career pertains to non-relational data in the areas of search, content management, and NoSQL, and includes senior roles in technical marketing, sales engineering, and support engineering. Dale holds an MBA from Santa Clara University, and a BA in Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly in the process of breaking from its heretofore relatively obscure enterprise applications (such as plant floor control and supply chain management) and going mainstream into the consumer space. More and more creative folks are interconnecting everyday products such as household items, mobile devices, appliances and cars, and unleashing new and imaginative scenarios. We are seeing a lot of excitement around applications in home automation, personal fitness, and in-car entertainment and this excitement will bleed into other areas. On the commercial side, m...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CodeFutures, a leading supplier of database performance tools, has been named a “Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. CodeFutures is an independent software vendor focused on providing tools that deliver database performance tools that increase productivity during database development and increase database performance and scalability during production.
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to evolve the way the world does business; however, understanding how to apply it to your company can be a mystery. Most people struggle with understanding the potential business uses or tend to get caught up in the technology, resulting in solutions that fail to meet even minimum business goals. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO / President / Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., showed what is needed to leverage the IoT to transform your business. He discussed opportunities and challenges ahead for the IoT from a market and technical point of vie...
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Things are being built upon cloud foundations to transform organizations. This CEO Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Roger Strukhoff, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo conference chair, addressed the big issues involving these technologies and, more important, the results they will achieve. Rodney Rogers, chairman and CEO of Virtustream; Brendan O'Brien, co-founder of Aria Systems, Bart Copeland, president and CEO of ActiveState Software; Jim Cowie, chief scientist at Dyn; Dave Wagstaff, VP and chief architect at BSQUARE Corporation; Seth Proctor, CTO of NuoDB, Inc.; and Andris Gailitis, C...
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Performance is the intersection of power, agility, control, and choice. If you value performance, and more specifically consistent performance, you need to look beyond simple virtualized compute. Many factors need to be considered to create a truly performant environment. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, discussed how to take advantage of a multitude of compute options and platform features to make cloud the cornerstone of your online presence.
SYS-CON Media announced that Splunk, a provider of the leading software platform for real-time Operational Intelligence, has launched an ad campaign on Big Data Journal. Splunk software and cloud services enable organizations to search, monitor, analyze and visualize machine-generated big data coming from websites, applications, servers, networks, sensors and mobile devices. The ads focus on delivering ROI - how improved uptime delivered $6M in annual ROI, improving customer operations by mining large volumes of unstructured data, and how data tracking delivers uptime when it matters most.
In this Women in Technology Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Anne Plese, Senior Consultant, Cloud Product Marketing at Verizon Enterprise, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO at MetraTech; Evelyn de Souza, Data Privacy and Compliance Strategy Leader at Cisco Systems; Seema Jethani, Director of Product Management at Basho Technologies; Victoria Livschitz, CEO of Qubell Inc.; Anne Hungate, Senior Director of Software Quality at DIRECTV, discussed what path they took to find their spot within the technology industry and how do they see opportunities for other women in their area of expertise.
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
SYS-CON Media announced that Cisco, a worldwide leader in IT that helps companies seize the opportunities of tomorrow, has launched a new ad campaign in Cloud Computing Journal. The ad campaign, a webcast titled 'Is Your Data Center Ready for the Application Economy?', focuses on the latest data center networking technologies, including SDN or ACI, and how customers are using SDN and ACI in their organizations to achieve business agility. The Cisco webcast is available on-demand.
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
“The age of the Internet of Things is upon us,” stated Thomas Svensson, senior vice-president and general manager EMEA, ThingWorx, “and working with forward-thinking companies, such as Elisa, enables us to deploy our leading technology so that customers can profit from complete, end-to-end solutions.” ThingWorx, a PTC® (Nasdaq: PTC) business and Internet of Things (IoT) platform provider, announced on Monday that Elisa, Finnish provider of mobile and fixed broadband subscriptions, will deploy ThingWorx® platform technology to enable a new Elisa IoT service in Finland and Estonia.
Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) are increasing at an unprecedented rate. The threat landscape of today is drastically different than just a few years ago. Attacks are much more organized and sophisticated. They are harder to detect and even harder to anticipate. In the foreseeable future it's going to get a whole lot harder. Everything you know today will change. Keeping up with this changing landscape is already a daunting task. Your organization needs to use the latest tools, methods and expertise to guard against those threats. But will that be enough? In the foreseeable future attacks w...
As enterprises move to all-IP networks and cloud-based applications, communications service providers (CSPs) – facing increased competition from over-the-top providers delivering content via the Internet and independently of CSPs – must be able to offer seamless cloud-based communication and collaboration solutions that can scale for small, midsize, and large enterprises, as well as public sector organizations, in order to keep and grow market share. The latest version of Oracle Communications Unified Communications Suite gives CSPs the capability to do just that. In addition, its integration ...
Building low-cost wearable devices can enhance the quality of our lives. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Sai Yamanoor, Embedded Software Engineer at Altschool, provided an example of putting together a small keychain within a $50 budget that educates the user about the air quality in their surroundings. He also provided examples such as building a wearable device that provides transit or recreational information. He then reviewed the resources available to build wearable devices at home including open source hardware, the raw materials required and the options available to power s...