Signing on to The Skeptical Software Development Manifesto

Oct 22, 2003 17:57 · 393 words · 2 minute read

From Hacknot comes The Skeptical Software Development Manifesto. It’s meant to be an attack on XP and the Agile Manifesto, but is really just an essay on skeptical thought. I don’t think anyone will debate this principle:

Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer by adopting those working practices which give us the highest chance of successful software delivery.

Absolutely. I even agree with the statement that we need to identify the degree/frequency of customer involvement.

But, the fact of the matter is that while Mr. Ed is trying to attack XP with his manifesto, he’s really attacking every software development methodology.

We recognize that controlled experimentation in the software development domain is difficult, as is achieving isolation of variables, but that is no excuse for not pursuing the most rigorous examination of claims that we can, or for excusing claimants from the burden of supporting their claims.

Sure. But, who’s going to spend the time doing this? If you want to write a PhD thesis comparing the effectiveness of XP and CMM, go for it! I’m going to write some software.

From The Deflowering of a Pair Programming Virgin:

For a pairing of mature developers, I believe the effect on code quality is vastly overstated amongst the XP community. That there is some marginal improvement in the quality of the code when first cut seems clear. That this improvement justifies the investment of effort required to produce it, or that it could not be obtained more efficiently through regular code review techniques, is not at all clear.

The use of the words “I believe” throughout the conclusion of this article clearly show that these are to be considered opinions. The opinions in this article are derived from one person’s observations of pairing with one other person for four days.

The “Deflowering” article seems typical of what is on the Hacknot site… so, finding “proven” software development techniques does not seem to be something that will come from Hacknot. Nor will that proof come from me.

When you get down to it, I’d probably be willing to sign both the Agile Manifesto and the Skeptical Software Development Manifesto. Until someone comes along with “proven” software techniques that meet the Skeptical Manifesto requirements, I will continue to do things the agile way which in my opinion provides my customer with the best software.