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Professional Scrum Development with Microsoft Visual Studio 2012
(Microsoft Press)
Author(s): Richard Hundhausen
Published: 2012
Pages: 384
Print ISBN: 978-0-7356-5798-4
Publisher (more . . .)Microsoft Press   InformIT


 Four out of Five Stars
  Reviewed: April, 2014
  Reviewer: Sean Kramer
       When it comes to technology related books, I believe that there are two camps.

     The first, less desirable, camp contains books written by writers that simply went through the menu of available options and started spouting off how to use them. These books tend to be rote, dry and merely a collection of descriptions of the available features of a given technology. Although these types of book can be a good reference to have on the shelf, they often don’t give you much more information than you could get from reading the help files.

     The second camp contains books written by technologist that clearly use the technologies on a daily basis. This type of book tends to be more interesting, easier to follow and provides insight from a great deal of hands-on experience. These books are the gems of my technology bookshelf. They not only tell you the what, but also help with the “how” and the more elusive “why”. The “why” can only come from a great deal of experience.

     Professional Scrum Development with Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 by Richard Hundhausen, in my opinion, falls safely into the second camp. The breadth and depth of the author’s experience with this topic is highly evident.

     Before I get into the book itself, it is important to note that you do not need Visual Studio to use Scrum. Scrum can be accomplished with other toolsets or simply with markers, stickies and a whiteboard. This is a fact that the author acknowledges in the book.

     Let’s get into some of details of the book itself...

     One of the conventions of the book is that peppered throughout the content are tidbits that the author refers to as “smells”. These are situations and traps that a Scrum team should avoid. The presence of these in your Scrum practice often means that there is some underlying dysfunction.

     In addition, the author provides a chart in the introduction of the book that lays out where to jump into the book depending of your background and knowledge of Scrum and Visual Studio. This allows you to skip certain sections if you are already familiar with the concepts.

     The book is broken up into three sections; fundamentals, using Scrum and Continuous Improvement. Depending on your level of experience with Scrum, Visual Studio or using the two combined, you may end up skipping some of these sections. Although if you are an experienced Scrum practitioner, I would recommend at least perusing these sections especially paying attention to the “tips” and “smells” blocks. These are full of wisdom and insight that may themselves pay for the price of admission.

     The fundamentals section consists of chapters on the basics of scrum or “Scrumdamentals”, general Application Lifecycle Management with Visual Studio and an overview of using Scrum with Visual Studio. Here you will learn all of the vernacular of Scrum as well as an overview of how to tie it all together.

     The middle section is really the meat of the book. Here the author dives into the details of running a project using Scrum on the Visual Studio toolset. Regardless of whether you are using VS on premise, hosted or even the free versions provided by Microsoft, this section steps you through how to get it done.

     Often times technology books tend to peter out at the end. The topics towards the end of the book tend to be little used features and/or topics that most readers never bother to investigate. I felt that this book has one of its most interesting sections at the end. This is the “continuous Improvement” section. This section is very prescriptive and can provide remedies for many things that may be plaguing your Scrum practice. In fact, I would recommend this section for Scrum teams even if there are not using Visual Studio.

     By following the prescriptive approaches recommended by the author and watching out for the “smells”, you can be on your way to keeping your project team out of the doghouse (the author's name, Hundhausen, literally means “doghouse” in German -- sorry, I couldn’t resist)!

Sean Kramer has been in the IT field for over eighteen years with extensive experience in development, management and architecture. He spends most of his professional time working in Microsoft related technologies, but has also spent time with other technologies that we won’t mention here.
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