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The Art of Agile Development: Chapter 9: Developing

26 Mar, 2010

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The following text is excerpted from The Art of Agile Development by James Shore and Shane Warden, published by O'Reilly. Copyright © 2008 the authors. All rights reserved.

Developing

Imagine you've given up the world of software to become a master chef. After years of study and practice, you've reached the top of your profession. One day, you receive the ultimate invitation: to cook for 500 attendees at a $10,000-a-plate fundraiser.

A limo takes you from your chartered plane to the venue and you and your cooks walk confidently into a kitchen... only to stop in shock. The kitchen is a mess: rotting food, unwashed cooking implements, standing water in the sinks. It's the morning of the event. You have twelve hours.

What do you do? You roll up your sleeves and start cleaning. As soon as the first space is clear, a few cooks begin the longest, most complicated food preparation. A few more head to the market to get fresh ingredients. The rest keep cleaning. Working around the mess will take too long.

It's a lesson you've learned from software over and over again.

Software development requires the cooperation of everyone on the team. Programmers are often called "developers", but in reality everyone on the team is part of the development effort. When you share the work, customers identify the next requirements while programmers work on the current ones. Testers help the team figure out how to stop introducing bugs. Programmers spread the cost of technical infrastructure over the entire life of the project. Above all, everyone helps to keep everything clean.

The best way I know of to reduce the cost of writing software is to improve the internal quality of its code and design. I've never seen high quality on a well-managed project fail to repay its investment. It always reduces the cost of development in the short term as well as the long term. On a successful XP project, There's an amazing feeling—the feeling of being absolutely safe to change absolutely anything without worry.

Here are nine practices keep the code clean and allow the entire team to contribute to development: