An Extreme Move by Capital One

Capital One Financial Corp. launched a full-scale extreme programming development project last spring in which the credit card provider built a call center application for a now-defunct telecommunications unit. Extreme programming calls for putting the customer on-site to work with development teams, sharing code techniques, pairing developers, performing automated unit testing and editing code frequently to keep it simple.

Capital One software development manager Steve Metsker lauded the productivity gains generated by such features of the extreme programming method as unit testing, peer code review and rapid feedback from the on-site customer. Still, he said the Falls Church, Va.-based company doesn't plan to adopt full-scale extreme programming techniques for any of its current projects.

"There are some aspects of [extreme programming] that are extreme, and some wonder whether something extreme is right for their company," said Metsker.

For instance, Metsker named two extreme programming approaches -- pair programming, where two developers work together to build code, and collective code ownership, where any developer can make changes to any code -- as key stumbling blocks for management.

Instead, Capital One is adopting more general agile modeling methods, such as delivering working software quickly and making small changes to code to support new requirements.

Copyright © 2001 IDG Communications, Inc.

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