Feeds

Practices of an Agile Developer

A practical Agile book

Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization

Book review If nothing else, the Agile development movement has hit on a good brand. Agile has so many positive connotations – fast, graceful, dynamic. Come on, who doesn’t want to be Agile? Besides, the alternatives don’t have a handy label to grab on to. Formal methodologies? The Unified Process? Arthritic programming… Nope, Agile wins that battle hands down.

So, if you want to go with the flow and inject some Agility into your life as a developer, what do you actually have to do? The first thing to realise is that there is no one true way. There are lots of methodologies and processes in the Agile camp: Scrum, extreme programming, Crystal, Adaptive Software Development and plenty more… However, while there might be differences in emphasis or inspiration, there are a core set of practices that are pretty much shared by all of these schools of Agile development. And it's these practices that Venkat Subramaniam and Andy Hunt set out to document in their Practices of an Agile Developer

In fact, they set out 45 different practices organised into eight chapters that broadly cover the development life-cycle, from design to coding to debugging and so on. In terms of range, there’s not much that’s been left out, so this book does represent a fairly full Agile development toolkit.

Every practice is introduced with a demonic statement that whispers some bad advice to the reader – this is the temptation that the Agile practice will help you resist. There follows an explanation of the issues at hand and the implications of giving in to that demonic temptation. The Agile practice is then placed into context and the benefits of the practice are clearly explained – often helped along by a handy anecdote or war story. And, as a quick reminder for later, there’s usually a single Angelic statement of the practice at the end (the good cop versus the bad cop).

Aside from the explanations and the stories, there are also pointers to ‘Keeping Your Balance’ so that you don’t go overboard when adopting a new practice. Each practice also has a ‘What It Feels Like’ section to help you recognise whether you’re doing it right. The latter smacks of a being a bit of a gimmick. Surely, the real test of a practice is whether it improves the development process rather than some vague and subjective description of ‘what it feels like’?

All the core Agile techniques are covered – including the benefits of automated builds, unit testing, continuous builds, iterative and incremental development, regular releases to customers, code reviews etc. Additionally, there are process-related practices as well as purely technical ones. These include things like mandating that pretty much everyone writes code (this last directed particularly at architects too grand to humble themselves with mere programming), the benefits of high-levels of customer involvement in the development process and so on.

As well as the practices, the book also offers advice on how best to move to Agile development. This is often where the best of intentions crash head-long into existing corporate cultures. The advice is to take it slowly and to introduce Agile incrementally [this applies to just about any innovation involving cultural change – ed] because big-bang transitions are hard to pull off - often because they don’t get adequate buy-in.

Practices of an Agile Developer

Verdict: The book benefits from concision and carries less of the ideological load that seems to mar some of the more fevered Agile literature. As a statement of useful development practices – regardless of whether you follow Agile or not – this is highly readable and eminently practical.

Authors: Venkat Subramaniam and Andy Hunt

Publisher: Pragmatic Bookshelf

ISBN: 097451408X

Media: Book

Buy this book at Cash & Carrion!

Reducing security risks from open source software

More from The Register

next story
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Apple fanbois SCREAM as update BRICKS their Macbook Airs
Ragegasm spills over as firmware upgrade kills machines
Captain Kirk sets phaser to SLAUGHTER after trying new Facebook app
William Shatner less-than-impressed by Zuck's celebrity-only app
Do YOU work at Microsoft? Um. Are you SURE about that?
Nokia and marketing types first to get the bullet, says report
Microsoft takes on Chromebook with low-cost Windows laptops
Redmond's chief salesman: We're taking 'hard' decisions
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.