A thoughtful view of an often misunderstood topic . . .

Bertrand Meyer on Agile

© Conrad Weisert, Information Disciplines, Inc., February 19, 2015

NOTE: This document may be circulated or quoted from freely, as long as the copyright credit is included.

"If you are attracted by agile methods but put off by the grandiose claims, you are not alone. Agile ideas are a curious mix of the best and the worst: brilliant insights that have already changed the way we think about software (the good), along with principles that are guaranteed to damage your projects (the ugly), plus some indifferent practices (the hype) that do not deserve the fuss. Unfortunately, most agile presentations are pure propaganda; they ask you to kneel down and start singing the hymn."       —Announcmment of a Bertrand Meyer online seminar from ACM.

Yesterday we watched a satisfying and insightful presentation by Bertrand Meyer. Professor Meyer was promoting his recent book, which offers a balanced assessment of the pros and cons of the so-called "agile" software development methodologies. I enthusiastically recommend Professor Meyer's book and yesterday's presentation, which remains available for viewing, especially if your organization is consideing making a commitment to one of these approaches.

Over a decade ago Agility was a major fad among some programming experts. The Agile Manifesto was the centerpiece of the campaign to discredit "traditional" approaches that were based on clear, unambiguous specifications. As we noted at the time, aspects of the new agile approaches fell into several categories:

  1. New techniques of significant value,
  2. Techniques of questionable or even negative value,
  3. Well-established techniques that had long been considered enlightened good practuce,

Apparently not much has happened since then, but the arguments are still raging. We welcome Professor Meyer's update.

Like many online seminars, yesterday's invited viewers to submit questions or comments. But also like most of those programs, they ran out of time before they could address them.

This web site contains several related pieces about agile methods. Some of them are old, but not much has changed in thirteen years with respect to the basic tenets of that approach:

I'm sure we'll be hearing more from the extremists.

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Last modified February 19, 2015