What is eXtreme Programming XP

Extreme Programming (XP) –

Placed in the late 1900s, software development, and programming concepts were seeing a considerable change in the way and approach of the entire schema. Leaner and packet-sized approaches we on the rise and clear unitized models were applied to bring about change in the way computer software was developed. Wastage needed to be reduced with the increase in demand for efficient systems and thus, came to rise the era of methodologies for efficient software development. Procedural programming was soon replaced by Object-Oriented Programming and the waterfall model made way for Agile to take over the lead. Japanese quality control frameworks were soon gaining momentum and then emerged the concept of something that was previously used in bits and pieces, but which was now a full-fledged methodology to solving software programming and development woes, Extreme Programming!

What is Extreme Programming (XP)?

With a considerable number of changes seeing the light of day from clients, Extreme Programming (XP) came in as relief for organizing projects undertaken by software specialists.

Implementation of extreme programming enhanced software quality and was responding more efficiently to the changing requirements of the business, caused by scaling of businesses or external factors.

XP is a methodology, under the Agile umbrella, that encourages frequent version releases in short development cycles. This would inevitably increase productivity to a great extent and the frequent releases would pave way for the incorporation of newer requirements.

Extreme Programming (XP) has “customer satisfaction” at the heart of its framework and “teamwork” as the muscle power. Collaboration is a must for extreme programming (XP) to be successful as it takes iterative steps toward producing software for clients/customers. It is not focused on delivering the entire belt but looks at whether the needs of the client is fulfilled at every stage along the way.

Part of Agile Software Development

Agile software development is the way development is undertaken, but most importantly, what most people forget to acknowledge is that teams, that is people, need to be Agile for it to be successful. The methods and processes implementation only ensures that there is a fixed framework in which teams can be flexible, scalable, and more definitively creative.

With the concepts of iteration and sprints, like in the case of Scrum, Agile provides a great platform to get the changes and feedback implemented in each development cycle that passes by.

When it comes to Extreme Programming (XP), it takes into account all the opportunities that can result in improvements made to the product at the end.

Traditional Development versus Extreme Programming (XP)

  • While traditional development keeps the focus on the process and takes that into consideration when it comes to completion of the cycle, extreme programming focuses on the requirement.
  • Extreme Programming (XP) takes the best practices installed in traditional development and takes it to the extreme limits. The stretching carried out with extreme programming (XP) is great for flexible and elastic projects.
  • Traditional development has segmentation as the preceding factor in software development cycles, whereas extreme programming (XP) advocates the collaboration between teams and also the stakeholders for their constant feedback and views during iterations and planning stages.

5 Values for a Successful Project

Extreme programming (XP) involves the 5 essential ways or values of heading towards a successful software project:

  1. Communication – This software development methodology essentially requires close-knit communication between the managers, clients/customers, and developers. This effective communication is needed for the smooth functioning of the software project and other project management tools are also implemented within communication so that they can facilitate communication further during the project life cycle.
  2. Courage – With dramatic changes in the customer requirements, it is for the developers to courageously undertake the challenges that crop up at the last minute or contradicting changes applied to the project at any point in time.
  3. Feedback – Feedback is implemented through constant unit testing and the results are evaluated and accordingly implemented within the project development cycles. Customers are kept at close quarters and a demo is presented as soon as a development cycle is completed so that feedback can be incorporated.
  4. Respect – Each development cycle brings with its success to a new milestone and it only exemplifies the contributions put into cycles undertaken.
  5. Simplicity – extreme programming (XP) is most efficient when the design is kept simple and the implementation is planned in a clear and effective manner. A lot of extreme programming rides on its simple rules it has in place.

Planning-Feedback Cycles

Collaboration in the team and daily connection to the business for optimized product development form the backbone of extreme programming (XP), while user stories form the basis of XP planning. These user stories are jotted down on cards. Manipulating these cards can bring to life the project scope and plan.

These XP planning are created with three levels or tiers.

  • Future months
  • Next iteration
  • Current iteration

Plans are always temporary and recreation of plans need to be made before the end of the last plan. They change as and when there is even a slight change in the project or its schedule. The iteration starts at the moment a change is encountered. You gain feedback from the customer, you revisit your plan. You stand ahead or behind schedule, you revisit and change your plan.

Through planning comes into effect the most appropriate designs for the product to be delivered. With regard to extreme programming (XP), Test-driven development (TDD) and refactoring are used for effective and efficient designing.

Already having the essence of Agile, refactoring comes as an important and crucial design tool involved in the process of planning. Refactoring involves making design alternations and adjustments in accord with the needs that have been altered. With refactoring comes the concept of testing in a unitized and acceptable manner.

The following steps take center stage when a planning or feedback loop is executed. Each action here is iterative and can be performed in succession once a change is initiated:

Each step in the sequence that is carried out can be iterative in nature and can be looped as and when the change sequence is initiated, and a new plan is recreated for each initiation. Each step also has a particular duration allotted to it and a schedule is chalked out for the rest of the feedback for each stage of the product.

  • Coding to Pair Programming – seconds
  • Pair Programming to Unit Testing – minutes
  • Unit Testing to Pair Negotiation – hours
  • Pair Negotiation to Stand-up Meeting – one day
  • Stand-up Meeting to Acceptance Testing – days
  • Acceptance Testing to Iteration Planning – weeks
  • Iteration Planning to Release Planning – months

With the level of iteration that is sought after, it becomes mandatory for the developers to ensure and assure as well that code is well sorted and is of optimum quality. Reporting of bugs is a strict no-no for developers following the extreme programming methodology for software development.

What is Pair Programming?

As the central resource to the extreme programming methodology is people and not processes, it is people who run the concept of pair programming. Adding productivity and quality to the table, pair programming goes something like this:

“The code sent into production is created by two people who work together on the code to be created, while sitting on a single computer.”

The benefits of this concept of pair programming are as follows:

  • Enhanced software quality – while there is no addition in functionality with two people sitting together or apart, concentration on a single computer surely adds to the quality of the code rendered
  • No effect on time to deliver – providing a win-win situation for the project and its stakeholders, using two functional heads to get a high-quality code with no time loss is great for software development
  • Cost savings for later stages – with the high-quality code already rendered, the impact it has on later stages is huge and the cost is surely saved with each iteration that takes place

Pair programming as it involves two distinctive individuals working together at equal tables, it becomes essential for them to coordinate at a higher level, irrespective of the level of experience. It’s a social skill that takes time to learn and it needs two dedicated professionals that want to make a difference in the world of software development.

Pair programming is always proceeded by extensive and continuous integration of the new functionality incorporated and the cycle continues.

Rules

While we know that the rules put to work in the world of Extreme Programming (XP) are based on the principle and value of Simplicity, it’s essential to have a good view about these rules that make up a great methodology within software development techniques.

Planning

Within planning the project manager and his team look at the requirements thoroughly and adhere to the following rules:

  • User stories need to be jotted down
  • Release planning should result in a release schedule
  • The project is split into iterations
  • Releases need to frequent but small
  • Iteration planning should start the iteration

Managing

Managing the tasks allotted and the duration for each peculiar task is the role of the project manager. It’s important that the project manager is mindful of the risks and adherence of each stage undertaken by the team members, and steers the workforce and resources accordingly to fulfill the concept of extreme programming (XP). Here are some of the rules that need to go through a PM:

  • The team should receive an open workspace to extend their imagination
  • The schedule allotted should be realistic and carefully paced
  • Each working day should commence with a stand-up meeting
  • Collaboration and teamwork are major components and needs utmost encouragement
  • Project Velocity should be measured during each change incorporation
  • People should never be kept stagnated and should be moved around
  • Steering extreme programming (XP) is quintessential and planning should be initiated at each opportunity of change

Designing

Designing is the stage that carefully follows planning and it determines the way requirements are handled at the initial stage of the project. A good design reflects the thought process and creativity and calls for a lesser number of iterations, thus, ensuring high levels of quality at the very start of the project. Being a reflection of the planning stage, here are a few rules to keep in mind during the implementation of designs in extreme programming (XP):

  • Simplicity is key
  • No functionality should be introduced at an early stage
  • Refactoring is essential at every stage to provide efficient and effective product designs
  • Spike solutions can be used to reduce the number and intensity of risk on the software project

Coding

Once the design is in place, it’s time to get all hands on deck and give that go-ahead for creating and generating code that will enter production for testing and for delivery. Coding comes as the stage that demonstrates the actual functioning of the project methodology and encourages iteration in the most effective manner. Here are quick rules to be mindful of when within the coding stage:

  • Customer needs to be in the loop at all times during product releases
  • Code must adhere to coding standards and practices adopted worldwide
  • The unit test should be code as the start
  • Production code should undergo pair programming for high quality
  • Integrate codes often and should be done by one pair only at a particular time
  • Accountability should be shared and intensive teamwork should be promoted
  • Pair programming should take place on one computer
  • Preferable seating of the pair should be side by side

Testing

With the code ready and rolling, testing comes as a seal of smooth functioning of the code lines. Testing forms as a seal stamp to ensure that the software is ready for consumption. Following are the rules put in place for testing within Extreme Programming (XP):

  • A code should contain unit tests
  • A release would require codes to pass these unit tests
  • Tests should be created on detection of bugs
  • Acceptance tests should have a high frequency and results should be published
  • Users shouldn’t detect any bugs within a code

When to Use Extreme Programming (XP)?

Extreme Programming was born due to the need to work around a project that carried with it a lot of changes at many junctures in time. It became necessary for the methodology adopted to be iterative and simple at its core. The following are the situations that can ask for the use of extreme programming (XP):

  • Customers don’t have a good idea about the system’s functionality
  • Changes are dynamic and are expected to change after short intervals of time
  • Business is steeply rising
  • Resources allocated are bare minimum; no huge staff
  • Need a considerable increase in productivity
  • Risk needs high levels of mitigation
  • High provisions for testing

So, here’s extreme programming (XP) for you in brief and in simple words. This methodology has reported success in all software development undertakings and has had a great success rate throughout its implementation history. Born out of normal and simplistic requirements, extreme programming (XP) is now slowly gaining recognition as a methodology to reckon with.

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