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Going to Extremes

Developers should be fully aware of the risks of the extreme programming methodology.


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xtreme Programming (XP) is not some nerd bungee jumping off a bridge with a laptop. It is not a geek writing code while doing back flips on a skateboard. Nothing nearly so exciting. Extreme Programming is simply a software development methodology. I'm not saying that XPers are fanatical or cultish, but I bought my copy of "Extreme Programming Explained" (Addison Wesley Longman, 2000) by noted programmer and Smalltalk guru Kent Beck from a guy in an orange robe at the L.A. airport.

Some of the main tenets of XP are simple, common-sense ideas practiced to extremes:

  • Keep it simple.
  • Code in small iterations and fast release cycles.
  • Design as you go, with no big, up-front design.
  • Put unit and functional testing at the core of the project goal posts, not as an optional add-on.
  • Work directly with the customer and/or the user and make them a part of the programming team.
  • Make the entire development team owners of the entire project; don't portion out code to individual experts.
  • Refactor, that is, rewrite and improve code, constantly.
  • Sleep well, lead a balanced healthy lifestyle except for required eating of junk food for team spirit, and remember, it's a jungle out there, so always program in pairs.


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