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XP guru to developers: 'Shape up'

No longer the wizard

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QCon Kent Beck, agile programming guru, author, and co-creator of Extreme Programming (XP) has ordered developers to pay attention to broad trends and to shape up socially.

"Historically, we have been the wizards," Beck told the QCon Conference in San Francisco, California.

"We could talk, act, and dress funny. We were excused for socially inappropriate behavior: ‘Oh, he's a programmer’. It was all because we knew this technology stuff that other people found completely mystifying," Beck said.

"But this new generation [of users] is much more comfortable with the technology, and that kind of social behavior won't cut it anymore. The world is changing, and I believe that, if I want to stay employed as a programmer, I'm going to have to change with it."

Sporting a recently shaved head ("I'm not on chemo; it's just a Halloween costume gone wrong"), Beck also sought to put such agile software development methodologies as XP into the context of some broader trends in society and business.

Beck – who developed XP with Ward Cunningham and Ron Jeffries - known as the Three Extremos - identified four trends developers must respond to: accountability, responsibility, transparency, and relationships. He pointed to things in day-to-day business such as readily available hospital mortality statistics, longer auto warrantees and the acknowledgement of the power of ongoing relationships as examples of these trends.

What does all of that have to do with agile software development methodologies?

"The global shifts in capital flows toward software development I see as a reflection of these trends," Beck said. "People are looking for software development that actually does something useful... People are looking for partners who deliver when promised, and at a reasonable and transparent price. I believe that the days of being able to value price software are numbered."®

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