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The article is concerned with the state of the practice of software engineering. The article describes the state of software practice circa late 2003. What it does not do is prescribe what the state of software's practice ought to be. There's a reason for sticking to description rather than prescription. For most of software engineering's history, authors have eagerly told practitioners what they ought to be doing. But rarely have those "oughts" been predicated on what practitioners actually are doing. The article aims to provide a baseline definition of practice, so that future authors who want to prescribe can at least have a description of what they're prescribing for.