Re: XP versus "Charmingly 1970's"

From: Douglas W. Jones <jones_at_cs_dot_uiowa_dot_edu>
Date: Tue Jun 01 2004 - 08:40:48 CDT

On May 30, 2004, at 10:55 PM, Greg Stern wrote:

>> It's much harder to use XP to grow the framework itself, or to use
>> XP to develop systems that must conform to complex specs, such as
>> voting systems. XP, in its doctrinaire form, lets marketing write
>> the development roadmap, deciding which feature to focus on for the
>> next step. This is crazy in the world of voting systems.
>>
>
> I have to disagree here. I have written software from military
> applications,
> to foundation libraries, to cell phone software to my current job
> which is
> medical devices. I have used a variation of XP ...

We are not in conflict! I said "XP in its doctrinaire form", which is
to say, XP as explained by Kent Beck to a conference I attended. There
were also military and commercial avionics programmers there, and there
was an open discussion of whether XP was applicable to that kind of
domain. The answer was, of course, that variant forms of XP are very
much applicable, but not pure XP as Beck has been advocating it.

In fact, many successful projects in the military and avionics domain
have used methodologies that are extremely similar to XP, even when
they do not acknowledge this or when they developed their methodology
independently from Beck.

I would argue that XP is, to a significant extent, a methodology that
has been used by many successful software development projects over the
years, whether or not they knew this. Certainly, it's not an inaccurate
description of how some of my more successful projects have proceeded.

>> But, some key parts of XP transplant very well into other contexts,
>> for example, incremental development, where rigorous acceptance tests
>> for each development increment are developed in advance of or in
>> parallel with that increment.
>
> I think we need to separate requirements and testing from design and
> implementation.

XP demands that you test as you implement. That's the key to making
incremental development work! In fact, one of the great contributions
of XP is the explicit integration of testing with design and development
instead of spreading it out over the waterfall, as in the traditional
world.

Of course, in the voting domain, the ITA process comes later, but the
ITA testing should be anticipated by testing done in-house.

                Doug Jones
                jones@cs.uiowa.edu
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Received on Wed Jun 30 23:17:01 2004

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