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The brainchild of Chicago based 37signals (creator of Basecamp amoung others), Getting Real provides a fresh take on building web applications. According to 37signals, it explains “the smarter, faster, easier way to build a successful web application.” The book was originally self-published as a PDF, but is now available for free in HTML format or from Amazon in paperback format.
37signals have been around since 1999, and have adopted the mantra “do less” with regard to application build.
Our products do less than the competition - intentionally
The book follows this key theme throughout, and includes many elements of advice that I believe ring true, too many to mention individually. However the focus on prioritising the user interface, keeping things simple, and avoiding unnecessary distractions (“meetings are toxic”) are particularly salient. Whether all of 37signals advice works within an agency environment remains to be seen. When you are building for a client, it is nearly always necessary to specify what will be built up front. It can also be difficult to iterate within a two week project build.
Overall, I think of the book as a quick win; it is easy to read due to the concise and informal writing style and it is packed with great advice.