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User Stories Applied: For Agile Software Development

(A Kent Beck Signature Book)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  2,580 ratings  ·  120 reviews
Thoroughly reviewed and eagerly anticipated by the agile community, User Stories Applied offers a requirements process that saves time, eliminates rework, and leads directly to better software.

The best way to build software that meets users' needs is to begin with "user stories": simple, clear, brief descriptions of functionality that will be valuable to real users. In Use
Paperback, 268 pages
Published March 11th 2004 by Addison-Wesley Professional (first published March 1st 2004)
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User Stories Applied: For Agile Software Development is a decent introduction to user stories. The book could have benefitted from more depth on user stories and a little less breadth on adjoining topics. It is from 2004 and is starting to show its age.

The user story is a frequently used tool in agile software development methods such as eXtreme Programming (XP) and Scrum. It is used both for documenting the existence of a requirement and as a worm package for use in scope planning and schedulin
Michael Staten
Feb 20, 2009 rated it did not like it
Written from an engineer's perspective, it provides a good overview of the Agile Methodology but an uninformed approach to requirements gathering / needs assessment.
Nahuel Franchi
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Works well both as an introduction to agile practices with a focus on user stories and I can strongly recommend it if you are new to Agile as a whole.
Works very well also in case you have experience with agile practices, but less theoretical background on why certain practices work the way they do, I also recommend if you have previous experience in Agile, software development or project management.

Very well written and easy to follow.
Dec 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I have read about Agile approach. Focusing on the User Stories as the center of the Agile methodology, it provides very useful and practical information; regarding how to write good stories, and how to use them as a reliable tool for estimation and planning.
Dec 18, 2019 added it
Dig very much down into user stories, but just part one seems enough to know what they are, everything else is the matter of managing product development process which applies user stories, not really about the user stories themselves.
Jul 26, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: cs
I recently learned a fundamental dichotomy in expressing oneself: you use either the 'esoteric' or the 'exoteric' mode. (The exoteric writer says exactly what she means, minimises ambiguity and tries to do everything with explicit reasoning, for the largest audience they can, with imagery and irony only as decoration. The esoteric writer – distinct from, but often coextensive with the woo-woo mystical metaphysics fans also called esoteric – does the converse.

Most ancient writers wrote esoterica
Clay Siefken
May 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
I returned to this book recently when there was some questioning about what made a user story, a "good" user story. The "INVEST" acronym originated here.

Returning to the book these days almost feels quaint because of the references to Extreme Programming (XP) which has declined in practice. While the user stories concept still holds sway in hearts and minds of software professionals everywhere, there isn't much academic rigor in here.

The humble user story is very much at the heart of the Agile
John Tangney
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic! I was very impressed with how this subject was treated. Very clear, plenty of background explication, just the kind of clear approach that I wish I was better at. I generally point ppl to Bill Wake’s INVEST acronym and leave it at that :-( He even goes into roles, which is something that I started doing back in the 80’s as I learned about what we used to call “user-centered design”.

Mr. Cohn did a good job. However, some subjects are no longer relevant in modern agile dev, such as esti
Emre Sevinç
Jan 23, 2019 rated it liked it
This short book promises to explain what User Stories are, what they aren't, how to create and utilize them within an Agile/XP approach, and finally how to bring everything together in a short, yet relatively realistic case study. It delivers exactly what it promises and the exercises at the end of the chapters, although not always very well crafted, help the reader to capture the essence of each chapter, as well as focus on the pitfalls. It is not repetitive and does not try to be everything fo ...more
Ben Clohesy
Jun 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Overall, it's not too bad - I'm on the 3.5 rating really (4 stars for me is "yes I'll read again). I'll probably refer back to it every now and then, but am more likely to go to Mike's website if I want more specific information.

I came at this as a BA with a fair bit of experience and was looking a quick light and easily digestible overview of stories - which this is. However, as another reviewer has noted, this book is definitely coming at the topic from the perspective of a software engineer,
Bart Decaigny
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: owned-to-read
Two stars might not seem much... but I honnestly don't think it should be much more. It's worth reading for having a baseline of the concept of user stories, but a whole book about a (simple) concept is quite a lot, especially as the example used throughout the book is pretty shallow. In practice, half of what is gone over quickly (e.g. non-functional requirements, refactoring): that simply doesn't work out with user stories. Good for somebody just starting with some agile concepts, but too simp ...more
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book is from 2004 and I found it has aged a lot. Reading for the first time in 2019, I find it barely scratches the surface of User Stories.
Don't get me wrong, it is a good introduction to the topic. But I would combine it with User Story Mapping, as mapping the stories provides an excellent way of having that first story workshop that will generate stories.
Another aspect I didn't like was the fact the book is full of typos!!

All in all, a good introductory book to one requirements gathering
Tolique Iurkin
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It answered on many questions I collected over the years by writing stories in a very simple manner.

Here are my top findings:
- Stories should be as a slice of a cake. Story should fit in the sprint and should include all layers of the application;
- Story should be closed with an achievement;
- Keep the UI Out as Long as Possible;
- Keep user stories short, and don't forget their purpose as reminders to hold conversations;
- INVEST story principals: independent, negotiable, valuable to the user, s
Aditya Kulkarni
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I believe as I am reading this in 2018, there are some inherent biases I have about how to write a user story.
While it made me revisit the basics of a user story, it is worthwhile to mention that readers WILL need a grasp of their own organization/team members in order to implement these practices.

All in all, a good read indeed, for those who are just starting with user stories, this book will definitely help. I liked the part where Mike has explained the core of story-pointing. When estimating
Daniel Irvine
Aug 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you’re on a team that follows scrum, you really need a clear understanding of user stories. Without that, tracking velocity and finding a sustainable pace becomes so much harder. Thankfully this book covers not just how to write great user stories but also how to estimate stories and track your team’s velocity. Interestingly, it also includes a section on XP rather than scrum, which is a real bonus.
Feb 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lucidly written. Great way to wrap your head around the topic. Has a good amount of examples to help one understand the concepts and process well.

Book feels a bit dated with (now laughable) lines like "Most software projects will do best with a new release every two to six months. Certain website projects may release even more frequently" but nonetheless most of the content felt useful even in 2018.
Steven Ricks
Aug 01, 2018 rated it liked it
This book has largely become unnecessary since it's initial publication. The contents are still accurate and relevant, but an hour or two on Google and Wikipedia (or a couple of days attending agile ceremonies) will entirely preclude the need to read this book.
Apr 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: work
This book gives some practical info about user stories and the examples included can help you understand how to write good user stories. Despite my concern that it might be a bit outdated, I feel like I will refer back to the book from time to time.
TruongSinh Tran-Nguyen
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to TruongSinh by:
Most parts are good, coming from the author's own experience and opinion. However, this book refers to oudated, sometimes contradicted concept of the latest 2017 ScrumGuide.

I expected some budgeting and financial planing for projects and releases but didn't see them in this book.
Iryna Lomachynska
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great book for those who are new for User Stories. It explains clearly and with many examples the User Stories lifecycle: from the user roles identification, creating personas, brainstorming the stories, making decomposition to esrtimation and progress tracking.
Hung Cao
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Must read for BA doing agile
Nacho Bassino
Mar 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: agile
Re-reading this not so old classic. It is amazing how many things are now obsolete, but it keeps its essential value as the bible for user stories (that probably only covers a third of the book!)
Ankit Agrawal
Jun 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great read, a complete insight into user stories with questions and an example project !! What else could you ask for ....
Mar 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: business
Torn between a 3 or a 4. This is a good book for the beginner. I feel the book may be a little outdated. I expected a little more in-depth detail from an entire book about user stories.
Marco Bizzarri
Apr 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scrum, agile
Nice book about user stories from XP; it includes a chapter on how to adapt the User Stories to Scrum.

Ana Schiopu
Apr 17, 2018 rated it liked it
I’m not a big fan of self teaching books, but this one is an interesting read to anyone learning/using agile developement in their current job. Quite well defined terms, rules, roles, workflows etc.
Chandan Khatwani
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Another great book by Mike. Get your client on board with user stories.
Tiago Palhoto
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
GReat book from the master of the user stories.
Sarah Chogsom
Dec 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Good reference point and insight for junior product managers.
Mahmoud Ghoz
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a masterpiece must read. It is a bit old and way long. I bet you will gain some and may be a lot of knowledge along the way.
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Mike Cohn is the owner of Mountain Goat Software and is recognized as one of the contributors to the invention of Scrum. He is one of the founders of the Scrum Alliance and is a Certified Scrum Trainer. He is a trainer on Scrum and agile software process techniques and helped popularize Planning poker which he provides as a free online planning tool.

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Other books in the series

A Kent Beck Signature Book (7 books)
  • Test Driven Development: By Example
  • Implementation Patterns
  • ATDD by Example: A Practical Guide to Acceptance Test-Driven Development
  • Growing Object-Oriented Software, Guided by Tests
  • Implementing Lean Software Development: From Concept to Cash
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