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real process for rapid development in a dynamic environment, 6. April 2000
I develop software in a dynamic (i.e. chaotic) environment where customers are rarely sure of what they want software to do for them. If we were able to completely blueprint a design and have the customer sign off on it, the requirements would likely have changed the next day.
Extreme Programming Explained puts forth the concept that software is and should be very malleable. It seems to be a variant of the spiral development process, with a chief distinction being that each cycle results in an actual integrated, deployed piece of software. A main differentiator is that XP offers a body of complementary techniques and principles that make very rapid development in a changing world possible.
Competition is too great for companies to risk nine months (of time and dollars) waiting for software that may not meet its needs by the time it is delivered. Getting working software in front of a customer in a very short period of time is critical. However, the overhead of proper reviews and testing cycles is usually too much for an ideal 2-3 week spiral cycle. Pair programming and automated tests, two important concepts that XP promotes, are specific techniques that purport to solve this problem.
One other major positive of this development "methodology" is that it centers around the fact that software is developed by teams of humans -- something most other processes almost never take into account. XP is not geared toward teams of hotshot, superstar developers. It instead realizes that most development organizations are a wide mix of capabilities and experience levels -- something extremely important in this age of a severely limited developer resource pool.
A few of the ideas presented are a bit nebulous, but I suspect that's to pave way for the followup books which will go into depth on actual practical application of the concepts. Lacking for me, personally, was a discussion on integration testing and the organizational shakeup that introducing of XP will definitely create. I'd also like to see more documented case studies. Otherwise, the book is a quick, enjoyable read.