Feeds

XP daddy: go incremental on design

Safe steps for hectic times

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

QCon 2008 Age mellows us all and the co-inventor of extreme programming (XP) and an early Smalltalk advocate, Kent Beck, is apparently no exception.

During his presentations at QCon this week Beck advocated the principle of taking "safe steps" in the evolution of a software design to ensure that technical risk is properly managed.

Beck noted wryly that traditional approaches to software development ran contrary to economic realities. Yet, despite bold attempts at change - such as experimental work on URL-driven design (UDD), literally generating HTML code in real time in response to a web request, during the early days of XP - he has settled on a measured approach.

"Received wisdom is that if you spend time up front getting the design right you avoid costs later. But the longer you spend getting the design right the more your upfront costs are and the longer it takes for the software to start earning. So a rational model of software is to design it quickly - the economic pressure to improvise presents an interesting challenge," Beck told QCon.

Referring back to his early work on XP and UDD, Beck said: "I had long been a fan of incremental design - but I'd never thought until then of how you could take it to the limit and push it to this level."

Needless to say, the approach never went beyond a theoretical possibility and Beck's approach now relies on a more measured philisophy. "Design should be easy in the sense that every step should be obviously and clearly identifiable. Simplify elements to make change simple so you can manage the technical risk," Beck said

In his keynote speech on agile development Beck emphasized the importance of teamwork and relationships alongside purely technical expertise. Beck separately told Reg Dev that the main trend in agile development is towards transparency and accountability because deployment cycles are speeding up.

"Organizations want small changes in functionality on a more regular basis. An organization like Flickr deploys a new version of its software every half hour. This is a cycle that feeds on itself. The business looks at it and says: 'Yes we want to be able to respond quickly so give us something today'. Agile development enables us to deliver incremental change - not because it is better but because it matches what is going on outside."

Beck said this mandates a cultural change in software development with an emphasis on more transparency. "You need a cultural change first - developers can still be uncomfortable revealing that they are tracking bugs, which should not have been there."®

The Register is a media sponsor of QCon London 2008.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
The Return of BSOD: Does ANYONE trust Microsoft patches?
Sysadmins, you're either fighting fires or seen as incompetents now
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
China hopes home-grown OS will oust Microsoft
Doesn't much like Apple or Google, either
Sin COS to tan Windows? Chinese operating system to debut in autumn – report
Development alliance working on desktop, mobe software
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Why has the web gone to hell? Market chaos and HUMAN NATURE
Tim Berners-Lee isn't happy, but we should be
Eat up Martha! Microsoft slings handwriting recog into OneNote on Android
Freehand input on non-Windows kit for the first time
Linux kernel devs made to finger their dongles before contributing code
Two-factor auth enabled for Kernel.org repositories
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Scale data protection with your virtual environment
To scale at the rate of virtualization growth, data protection solutions need to adopt new capabilities and simplify current features.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?