88Pro Thinking

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Saturday, October 11, 2003

Extreme Programming: A Summary

Extreme Programming (XP) has fast become a hot topic in the ICT industry. I am not here to argue for or against XP itself, but am merely here to provide food for thought in the hope of educating the reader about what is happening in the industry as far as XP is concerned. What you will be reading is effectively a large serving of the various links to the many resources and islands of information that discuss XP. This brief passage is an attempt to build the bridges that will connect these islands of resources – links - to form what I hope is an easy to comprehend summary on Extreme Programming.

Questions are being raised in the industry today about whether we need another methodology, when there are already many programming methodologies that work just fine - when they are implemented properly of course -. Even though some players have adopted pieces of XP into their development process, there are very few who have adopted this disruptive methodology in its entirety.

XP was tried at the C3 Project by the father of XP Kent Beck. Kent pulled some other industry icons into the XP like Martin Flower (Author of the book Refactoring). Another high profile addition to the XP team is Ron Jeffries who was also part of the C3 project and wrote several books on XP.

If we look at the history of software development it appears that XP is the first software development methodology that is coming under serious fire from some segments of the industry. Most of these segments are fairly skeptical about XP, waiting till they hear more success stories, before they refactor their own processes to match XP.

Test Driven Development (TDD) and Pair Programming among others are two of XP’s supporting pillars. However, even though there are many success stories of Pair programming, there are still uncertainties as to whether it will work under all circumstances and will be work-friendly for all types of programmers who each will obviously have their own very different and distinct qualities, preferences and habits. Some of the more humorous critics of XP have even gone as far as making jokes about XP and the pieces of XP.

The final conclusion is of course up to you, but the methodology is still young, and maybe in the future it will evolve and take a complete new face that may be adopted wholeheartedly, or maybe the programming world will be satisfied by using certain parts of it, and throwing away the rest. My personal opinion is that it is hard to see anyone streamlining their entire software development processes with XP in the near future unless very impressive success stories come out from recognized industry leaders.

Like in the evolution of all things good or bad, there is only one true means of forecasting success and/or failure. The ‘wait-and-see’ approach. Works every time.
posted by 88Pro / Saturday, October 11, 2003

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