What is Agile Development?

Agile development is a set of methodologies intended to help software developers and developer teams deliver the best quality value to their customers through collaboration, cross functioning and self-organising. 

Agile Developer Meaning

Choosing a technology for your project isn’t quite a minefield, but it can very much be a maze for a novice programmer. But agile development means a lot more than technology on its own. It’s more a mode of thinking that profoundly influences both how technology is created and implemented. 

So, to understand just how agile coding practices challenge the conventions of sequential waterfall development (a model where the software development process trickles down with progress flowing steadily towards the end of a project), we must understand what Agile software developers advocate. What’s their core philosophy, and how do they go about providing an end-product while staying true to said philosophy?

History of Agile Development

While incremental software development can be traced back as far as 1957, the Agile Software Development that we know today has been around 2001. 

Agile methodology came to fruition when seventeen people came together at a ski resort in the Wasatch mountains of Utah. These people represented several different realms of software development, and they aimed to find common ground when working with software development. 

The meeting occurred because these industry professionals had become dissatisfied with management strategies. The limitations imposed by older practices led to coders and software engineers being hindered by the expectations and methodology of how developers should supposedly create software. As a result of this meeting, what emerged was the Agile Software Development Manifesto. 

Agile Thinking

Agile thinking sought to challenge an antiquated model of production. So, the idea of Agile software development actually has less to do with programming but more to do with how the user, in partnership with the developers, actually plays out the process of creating that software, with coding acting as the pencil and paper.

Quick adaptability is a core concept to Agile thinking, the idea being that if the software can adapt and evolve, it limits the risk of unpredictability. So, you have a team of developers working in short intervals of time, operating in close communication loops and constant correspondence with each other, using what works and abandoning what doesn’t, for the sake of providing functional software frequently, as opposed to as one enormous block of code. Agile thinking wanted to challenge the established order of how software was being created.

What is the Agile Manifesto?

The Agile Manifesto is a document that covers the core values and principles that Agile developers should follow. Below we show some of what the Manifesto includes. 

Values

As stated in the Agile Manifesto, the following are its values.

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation.
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
  • Responding to change over following a plan.

Principles

There are twelve principles that the founding fathers of Agile thought should underpin how developers and projects managers should implement their methodology. Naturally, derivations would follow, but this is what they initially sought. 

  • “Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  • Welcome changing requirements, even late in development.
  • Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
  • Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  • Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
  • Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
  • The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
  • Working software is the primary measure of progress.
  • Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  • Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
  • Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.
  • The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
  • At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.”

Advantages of Agile Methodology

If this methodology is used correctly, there are many advantages for software developers and their teams.
Here we outline some of the benefits.

  1. More flexibility in creating a product
  2. Better collaboration between teams
  3. Faster creation of projects
  4. Fewer risks
  5. Better learnings for individual developers
  6. More transparency between teams
  7. Better products/results
  8. Happier customers

Overseer of everything

Ultimately, software created while implementing the Agile methodology is software created by coders working together in self-organising, cross-functional teams. The ideology promotes the notion of frequently providing working software in small increments. It is not a language, technology, or framework, but when put into practice, it’s part of all the above.

It is the overseer of everything that goes into the software and everything that comes out. When chosen, Agile thinking is not projected on the screen nor written in a line of code but is practised by the user, project leaders and managers, and developers simultaneously as they work together.

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