Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Eric Sink on the Business of Software. Eric Sink. Apress (Book Review)

Eric Sink on the Business of Software is a selection of Eric’s essays from his website and blog. He explores the business concerns that programmers face in small software development shops and starting out on their own. Note: much of the material in this book is available online.

This relaxed, easy to read and sometimes offbeat book is a candid recollection of Eric’s successes and failures in starting his own Independent Software Vendor (ISV), SourceGear. Eric founded SourceGear, in his own words, “somewhat by accident”, and he relates the joys and pitfalls he experienced along the path of starting your own ISV.

I have read Eric’s blog for several years, and I have always enjoyed his insights and commentary on a diverse range of subject matter, usually with a software development or business angle. [for example, his series of posts on Source Control HowTo, especially the section on Branching and Merging].

He covers issues such as hiring staff, finances and marketing in a style aimed at programmers, interspersed with anecdotes and humor.

Eric is honest and right on the mark when he says “Don’t take anybody’s guidelines too seriously”, as what works for one person in one situation might not apply in another.
Chapter 4 “Finance for Geeks” was particularly interesting and contains basic accounting information you should be aware of if you are setting up a business venture.

It is often said that successful business people are those that learn from their mistakes, and in chapter 7, “Make More Mistakes”, Eric describes several examples where he has made a few ‘whoppers’ and learned from them the hard way! Admitting your own mistakes is not always easy, learning from them and moving on to something else is one of the traits that distinguish successful businesses from those that fail.

I particularly liked Eric’s ‘conversational’ writing style and his ability to weave ideas familiar to ‘geeks’ into the text, such as his NetHack analogy of the “Gauntlets of Fumbling”. If you have never played NetHack, I won’t try to explain…just Google it! Definitely worth reading.

Disclosure: The Perth .NET User Group is a member of the Apress User Group Program. Apress make copies of their books available for review, and the copy reviewed here was kindly donated by them


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