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User Stories Applied: For Agile Software Development

(A Kent Beck Signature Book)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  2,674 ratings  ·  127 reviews
The concept of user stories has its roots as one of the main tenets of Extreme Programming. In simple terms, user stories represent an effective means of gathering requirements from the customer (roughly akin to use cases). This book describes user stories and demonstrates how they can be used to properly plan, manage, and test software development projects. The book highl ...more
Paperback, 268 pages
Published March 1st 2004 by Addison-Wesley Professional
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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. ...more
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,
Kyle Maxwell
Apr 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
Although somewhat out of date in many respects, this book still provides a good overview of why and how to write user stories. Given that the book was first written almost 20 years ago, we can forgive most of the outdatedness. For example, I don’t think most Scrum teams use 30-day sprints anymore, and many many teams are now remote - even before COVID-19.

The core material, however, remains valuable, particularly for readers more accustomed to something heavier than user stories, or for those of
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
Mario Sailer
Nov 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: agile_practises
A classic about User Stories and iteration planning that is a bit outdated. For someone new to the field this book might be a good introduction into User Stories and iteration planning. For someone familiar with the topics it is a good refresher but there is nothing tremendously new and innovative.

The content is geared toward agile development teams performing an IT project without to much dependencies. Questions that arise when one has to deal with bigger organizations (two or more teams. prog
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.
Tom Schulte
Feb 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
Arranged like a textbook with questions answered in an appendix, this includes a historical arc of Agile from the innovations of Extreme Programming (XP). The User Story focus is weighted toward the physical collateral (index cards, etc.) and face-to-face collaboration on development, including thought-provoking, imaginative peronae writing. This is a very good, gentle introduction to the technique.
James Merritt
Apr 15, 2021 rated it liked it
Unfortunately the material in the book is showing its age, and is in strong need of a refresh in 2021. The concepts are solid and as a very basic introduction to product owner activities it stands up and is reasonably practical. Where it misses is in covering the actual practice of writing user stories in greater depth with more complex examples such as writing stories in regulated environments, managing technical activities that are too large to be sub tasks and so on.
Russell Folk
Dec 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
This isn’t too bad. The first three sections are the most beneficial. My biggest complaint would be that a lot of the situations and scenarios are pretty contrived best-case/worst-case which is on par for this genre. 🤷🏻‍♂️ That said, I found a few good nuggets in here though you can totally skip The Example covered in Part 4.
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.
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.
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. ...more
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.
May 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very good book

This is an essential lecture book for all professionals that wants to get a better understanding of user stories and how to apply it. I think that today is a classical book in the library of everyone dedicated to agile.
Jun 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
I found it interesting and useful. The book well describes the essentials of user stories and application of it. The examples are given from the the perspective of customer vs development team. To me, the missing part is model when the development team is also an owner of a product they create.
Christoph Kappel
May 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2021, l-english, c-agile
For me this book is a great introduction to the general idea of user stories and how that can be approached in projects. The examples are easy to follow there are quite a few ideas I have to keep in mind.
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 ....
Hung Cao
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Must read for BA doing agile
Tiago Palhoto
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
GReat book from the master of the user stories.
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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
  • Leading Lean Software Development: Results Are Not the Point

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