Book: Tom Gilb: Competitive Engineering

Competitive Engineering:A Handbook For Systems Engineering, Requirements Engineering, and Software Engineering Using Planguage
ISBN 0750665076 Publisher: Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann by Tom Gilb.

I bought this book after taking Tom Gilb’s Tutorials at a conference in 2006. The conference was quite good, and I (along with others) was able to spend some time with a wonderful person. He is that unique person, which has a profound effect on your life. The book could be classified as a reference work, but it also presents concepts by building on previously introduced ideas. So I suppose it is a textbook that then becomes a reference book. The book introduces Tom’s “Planguage”, which clearly and unambiguously communicates management objectives and systems engineering requirements. To quote further from the book cover; Competitive Engineering encompasses Requirements Specifications, Design Engineering, Evolutionary Project Management, Project Metrics, Risk Management, Priority Management, Specification Quality Control, and Change Control.

I think that sums it up quite well, but I will give you some of my thoughts. Each page of the book can be a template for managing the entire Software Engineering life cycle. It defines concepts of the Planguage using Planguage. It gives guidance on how to use the different concepts, as well as how to combine the concepts into larger concepts. Planguage was designed to be specific yet flexible, just like the Software Engineering discipline. Just like Design Patterns, CE gives you a tool, that you can modify and custom fit to your environment, yet with a little explanation anyone can read, understand and use. I am still reading and learning from the book.

Tom has a number of interesting ideas and techniques, which anyone would do well to investigate. After all, there is no magic incantation or secret sauce that can produce good software, only tools and techniques t hat when properly used and applied, can help us deliver what the customer really needs and wants. I highly recommend this book as one of those resources.


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