Computerworld - Anew force is making itself felt in the world of software development. Advocates of the agile development methodology (www.agilealliance.com) claim that its potential to increase productivity in some areas is so bright that coders are going to need to wear shades to write software with it.
Instead of starting by developing a detailed set of requirements, agile methodologies call for programmers to begin by writing small chunks of functionality that can be completed in two to four weeks -- "iterations," in agilespeak. Module testing receives the same level of attention as the actual writing of the code. When one iteration is done, developers find the next requirement to add more functionality to the module just completed and thereby start a new iteration.
Agile processes promise to deliver high-quality, functioning software at a fraction of the time and cost of traditional methods. Still, agile isn't likely to replace the so-called waterfall development methodologies, those proven ivory towers that have been used for the development of everything from missile guidance to widget-tracking ERP systems. For many projects, especially big ones with relatively fixed requirements, the Software Engineering Institute and its family of Capability Maturity Models (www.sei.cmu.edu/cmmi) are the gold standard and will remain so.
What's changed is product development in the era of global mass customization. You can't afford a three-month requirements-definition phase whose pieces are nebulous and evolving. The agile method has at its core the ascendance of trial and error over planning and documentation or, borrowing more agilespeak, "early value delivery" over "formalism."
Agile tilts to a more intuitive but still disciplined form of software development. Build and test a software module for that widget-tracking system with a very small, tightly integrated team. Then interpret the requirements for that module in the testing and have the software built before the requirements even would have been developed using traditional waterfall methods.
Agile already is showing up in mainstream software development. Some developers will see it first as part of a hybrid methodology, with some parts managed via waterfall methods and others spun off to agile. Likely candidates for spinning off to an agile team are software modules that include undefined areas or functionality that's likely to change.
Instead of waiting for dependencies to be resolved or customer inputs to catch up to requirements, put agile to work. Develop the test plan, build, and test with "Tinkertoy" interfaces that can be easily updated when the project catches up. Agile excels in this environment.
The potential savings offered by the agile method force the global software development marketplace to take
- IDC Report: Optimize IT and Business Gains This IDC Whitepaper outlines how CIOs can understand what the "total cost of data" is across their entire organization and how Delphix can...
- Planning for Mobile Success Many organizations are seeing clear and quantifiable benefits from the deployment of mobile technologies that provide access to data and applications any time,...
- The Business Value of Continuous Delivery Download this whitepaper to learn more about the business value of Continuous Delivery and see why it could be a game changer for...
- Coding with JRebel: Java Forever Changed With JRebel, developers get to see their code changes immediately, fine-tune their code with incremental changes, debug, explore and deploy their code with...
- Is SQL Server AlwaysOn really as powerful? Tips and Tricks from the field With the introduction of AlwaysOn, Windows Clustering Services is now more critical than ever.
- What Does it Take to Deliver a Superior Customer Experience? The Two Top-Rated Online Retailers, B&H Photo and Crutchfield Electronics, Share Their Secrets Discuss practical CX tools and service methods such as contact center agents and the use of realtime speech analytics to help contact center... All App Development White Papers | Webcasts