You are previewing Mythical Man-Month, The: Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition.

Mythical Man-Month, The: Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition

Cover of Mythical Man-Month, The: Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition by Frederick P. Brooks Jr. Published by Addison-Wesley Professional
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Chapter 1. The Tar Pit

Een schip op het strand is een baken in zee.[A ship on the beach is a lighthouse to the sea.]—DUTCH PROVERB

No scene from prehistory is quite so vivid as that of the mortal struggles of great beasts in the tar pits. In the mind's eye one sees dinosaurs, mammoths, and sabertoothed tigers struggling against the grip of the tar. The fiercer the struggle, the more entangling the tar, and no beast is so strong or so skillful but that he ultimately sinks.

Large-system programming has over the past decade been such a tar pit, and many great and powerful beasts have thrashed violently in it. Most have emerged with running systems—few have met goals, schedules, and budgets. Large and small, massive or wiry, team after team has ...

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