I’ve just finished reading a little gem of a book. It’s called ‘The Martian Principles for Successful Enterprise Systems’ with a subtitle of ’20 Lessons Learned from NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Mission’. The author is Ronald Mak.
Imagine designing an information retrieval, indexing and presentation system for the two Mars rover vehicles that were sent on a one-way reconnaissance mission to Mars for a three month mission. The feisty little vehicles kept going for two years and the information systems had to be designed to cope with this unexpected project over-run.
The book runs to 168 pages and is a ‘should-read’ for anybody involved in designing or buying large-scale enterprise software. From an architect’s perspective, you get a reinforced mental checklist of the aspects of your designs that make them work and ensure they keep working long after you’ve moved on. From a customer’s perspective, you gain an appreciation of the effort put into designing such systems. From a developer’s perspective, now you know why you spend so much time writing and executing unit tests.
The book has short and well directed chapters and is an easy read with coverage of both the technical side of software development and the soft or human side.
As a result of this read, I went back to enhance some application logging classes that I’ve used on a number of projects to provide more granular output and statistics on usage patterns.