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What Is Agile Programming

Changing business and market needs have put tremendous pressure on software organizations to beat the competition and stay on top by producing new products, introducing enhanced features and ensuring customer satisfaction. And in today’s world, this is possible only when software development implements Lean and Agile principles.What exactly is Agile Programming?So, what is Agile programming and how is it different from regular programming? In Agile programming, software is developed through Agile tools and techniques. Agile or adaptive techniques are applied at every level of the software development lifecycle to ensure that all the benefits of Agile development are realized. Let’s start with understanding what Agile is. The Agile model is a shift from the traditional method of software development, that does not prescribe to the top-down approach of management and development. This is an iterative and incremental model that brings in flexibility in its short sprints and focuses on maximising performance and quality.  “Agile software development is an umbrella term for a set of frameworks and practices based on the values and principles expressed in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development and the 12 Principles behind it.” –Agile Alliance.  The different models encompassed by Agile include Scrum, Kanban, XP, Crystal and more. These models of Agile programming focus on people and teams, which are self-organized, collaborative and cross functional and follow the agile principles of development.  Agile programming focuses on the four key values and twelve principles that are outlined in the Agile manifesto. The four values are: Individuals and interactions over processes and tools Working software over comprehensive documentation Customer collaboration over contract negotiation Responding to change over following a plan The twelve principles are: 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 behaviour accordingly. Why should we use agile programming?Agile programming brings in several benefits: Ensures rapid delivery of working software Provides quick resolution of defects Provides better estimates for release dates Ensures fast responses to customer needs Promotes better communication between teams and stakeholders Keeps stakeholders involved at all time and maintains a high degree of transparency Creates an environment that promotes innovation Brings focus on technical excellence Ensures superior quality of end product Helps create motivated teams Supports rapid testing of software Brings in continuous improvement of the product being created Provides more control over budgets Salient characteristics of Agile ProgrammingCross functional and self-organized teams: Small Scrum teams have shown greater success in delivering projects successfully. These teams that are typically eight to ten people in strength are self-organized and highly cross functional. Generally, a team will have people with different skill sets: for example, there may be a tester, a developer, a Scrum Master etc in each team.  Fixed iterations: Fixed and short iterations are at the heartbeat of Agile programming. Every iteration has a fixed number of tasks to be accomplished and the goal of every iteration is a working feature for the product being built. These fixed length iterations contribute to the quick adaptability of Agile software development and the process of refinement of the features in the coming iterations.Delivery of working software: The delivery of working software in each iteration is the benchmark of success for the team and for the project as a whole. Delivering what has been decided in the planning stage ensures that the project is on track and there is no build-up of work. This also helps the developers focus in refining the features in the coming iterations.  Development is value driven: Agile follows the mantra of fail fast, fail safe. Early failure of the product or feature gives the development team time to fix it before the release. Continuous delivery of tested software also ensures that the development team is on track. The features are prioritized and thus there is high focus on delivering business value.Adaptive planning: Planning is carried out throughout the development. This continuous and adaptive planning helps the team focus on priorities and enhance business value. It also helps adapt to last minute change in requirements.Two-level planning: Most Agile frameworks use the two-stage planning. A high-level plan or roadmap of all the major deliverables and features is first created followed by breaking down the project into smaller tasks that are time bound and focus on delivering value. This multi-tiered plan increases productivity and lowers chances of risks.Relative estimation: Most Agile frameworks use relative estimation for planning their roadmap. This hastens the process and also removes unwanted complications. Also, having a relative estimate for deliveries and releases works for both the team and the stakeholders.  Continuous and rapid testing: Unlike traditional project management, Agile builds in testing into the development process. This ensures that there is continuous and rapid testing of every new feature as and when it is built, enabling the team to release a functional and tested feature at every iteration.  Continuous improvement: Continuous improvement is the foundation of Agile programming. A product or feature built must be continuously refined and improved so that it delivers more value each time.Does agile programming make your work easy? How? Yes, it most definitely does! It makes our work easy by: Allowing us to quickly adapt to change: Changing requirements are a norm rather than an exception. Customers are bound to change requirements to suit market needs and Agile allows developers to change and adapt their code to these changing requirements in short sprints. By reducing technical debt: Agile programming reduces our burden of technical debt by ensuring that any defects resolution, testing or refactoring is carried out along with the development of the product rather than after development as it happens in traditional project management. Fixing defects along with the creation of new features ensures that there is no accumulation of technical debt which can pose risks.  Creating transparency: A high level of collaboration and open communication between the team members and between the developers and stakeholders ensures transparency between all involved. This transparency helps create more confident clients who trust the Agile teams; and motivates teams who know what they are creating and why. Reduces risk and thereby overwork: Every project is associated with certain amount of risk. But this is more in traditional project development as testing is done towards the end, after the product is developed. This is risky as you are not sure of whether the product is up to the standards expected by the customer. Agile development on the other hand has short iterations and quality control is built into the sprints. Any changes in the requirements or any defects detected can be immediately fixed, thereby reducing the chances of the product being rejected by the customer. Helping us arrive at predictable delivery dates: Time boxed sprints help to better estimate delivery dates that can be communicated to the stakeholders. This is different from traditional project development that makes predictions unreliable due to lengthy project cycles.  Conclusion Agile programming has revolutionized the way software is built and released. It ensures faster adaptability to changing requirements, reduces technical debt and the overall risk associated with the development process. The software development lifecycle allows developers to focus on creating quality products and the fast releases ensure that customers are satisfied.  
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What Is Agile Programming

Susan May
Blog
26th Aug, 2021
What Is Agile Programming

Changing business and market needs have put tremendous pressure on software organizations to beat the competition and stay on top by producing new products, introducing enhanced features and ensuring customer satisfaction. And in today’s world, this is possible only when software development implements Lean and Agile principles.

What exactly is Agile Programming?

So, what is Agile programming and how is it different from regular programming? In Agile programming, software is developed through Agile tools and techniques. Agile or adaptive techniques are applied at every level of the software development lifecycle to ensure that all the benefits of Agile development are realized. 

Let’s start with understanding what Agile is. The Agile model is a shift from the traditional method of software development, that does not prescribe to the top-down approach of management and development. This is an iterative and incremental model that brings in flexibility in its short sprints and focuses on maximising performance and quality.  

“Agile software development is an umbrella term for a set of frameworks and practices based on the values and principles expressed in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development and the 12 Principles behind it.” –Agile Alliance.  

The different models encompassed by Agile include Scrum, Kanban, XP, Crystal and more. These models of Agile programming focus on people and teams, which are self-organized, collaborative and cross functional and follow the agile principles of development.  

Agile programming focuses on the four key values and twelve principles that are outlined in the Agile manifesto. The four values are: 

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

The twelve principles are: 

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

Why should we use agile programming?

Agile programming brings in several benefits: 

  • Ensures rapid delivery of working software 
  • Provides quick resolution of defects 
  • Provides better estimates for release dates 
  • Ensures fast responses to customer needs 
  • Promotes better communication between teams and stakeholders 
  • Keeps stakeholders involved at all time and maintains a high degree of transparency 
  • Creates an environment that promotes innovation 
  • Brings focus on technical excellence 
  • Ensures superior quality of end product 
  • Helps create motivated teams 
  • Supports rapid testing of software 
  • Brings in continuous improvement of the product being created 
  • Provides more control over budgets 

Salient characteristics of Agile Programming

  • Cross functional and self-organized teams: 

Small Scrum teams have shown greater success in delivering projects successfully. These teams that are typically eight to ten people in strength are self-organized and highly cross functional. Generally, a team will have people with different skill sets: for example, there may be a tester, a developer, a Scrum Master etc in each team.  

  • Fixed iterations:

Fixed and short iterations are at the heartbeat of Agile programming. Every iteration has a fixed number of tasks to be accomplished and the goal of every iteration is a working feature for the product being built. These fixed length iterations contribute to the quick adaptability of Agile software development and the process of refinement of the features in the coming iterations.

Delivery of working software: 

The delivery of working software in each iteration is the benchmark of success for the team and for the project as a whole. Delivering what has been decided in the planning stage ensures that the project is on track and there is no build-up of work. This also helps the developers focus in refining the features in the coming iterations.  

  • Development is value driven: 

Agile follows the mantra of fail fast, fail safe. Early failure of the product or feature gives the development team time to fix it before the release. Continuous delivery of tested software also ensures that the development team is on track. The features are prioritized and thus there is high focus on delivering business value.

  • Adaptive planning:

Planning is carried out throughout the development. This continuous and adaptive planning helps the team focus on priorities and enhance business value. It also helps adapt to last minute change in requirements.

  • Two-level planning: 

Most Agile frameworks use the two-stage planning. A high-level plan or roadmap of all the major deliverables and features is first created followed by breaking down the project into smaller tasks that are time bound and focus on delivering value. This multi-tiered plan increases productivity and lowers chances of risks.

  • Relative estimation: 

Most Agile frameworks use relative estimation for planning their roadmap. This hastens the process and also removes unwanted complications. Also, having a relative estimate for deliveries and releases works for both the team and the stakeholders.  

  • Continuous and rapid testing:

Unlike traditional project management, Agile builds in testing into the development process. This ensures that there is continuous and rapid testing of every new feature as and when it is built, enabling the team to release a functional and tested feature at every iteration.  

  • Continuous improvement: 

Continuous improvement is the foundation of Agile programming. A product or feature built must be continuously refined and improved so that it delivers more value each time.

Does agile programming make your work easy? How? 

Yes, it most definitely does! It makes our work easy by: 

  • Allowing us to quickly adapt to change: 

Changing requirements are a norm rather than an exception. Customers are bound to change requirements to suit market needs and Agile allows developers to change and adapt their code to these changing requirements in short sprints. 

  • By reducing technical debt: 

Agile programming reduces our burden of technical debt by ensuring that any defects resolution, testing or refactoring is carried out along with the development of the product rather than after development as it happens in traditional project management. Fixing defects along with the creation of new features ensures that there is no accumulation of technical debt which can pose risks.  

  • Creating transparency:

 A high level of collaboration and open communication between the team members and between the developers and stakeholders ensures transparency between all involved. This transparency helps create more confident clients who trust the Agile teams; and motivates teams who know what they are creating and why. 

  • Reduces risk and thereby overwork: 

Every project is associated with certain amount of risk. But this is more in traditional project development as testing is done towards the end, after the product is developed. This is risky as you are not sure of whether the product is up to the standards expected by the customer. Agile development on the other hand has short iterations and quality control is built into the sprints. Any changes in the requirements or any defects detected can be immediately fixed, thereby reducing the chances of the product being rejected by the customer. 

  • Helping us arrive at predictable delivery dates: 

Time boxed sprints help to better estimate delivery dates that can be communicated to the stakeholders. This is different from traditional project development that makes predictions unreliable due to lengthy project cycles.  

Conclusion 

Agile programming has revolutionized the way software is built and released. It ensures faster adaptability to changing requirements, reduces technical debt and the overall risk associated with the development process. The software development lifecycle allows developers to focus on creating quality products and the fast releases ensure that customers are satisfied.  

Susan

Susan May

Writer, Developer, Explorer

Susan is a gamer, internet scholar and an entrepreneur, specialising in Big Data, Hadoop, Web Development and many other technologies. She is the author of several articles published on Zeolearn and KnowledgeHut blogs. She has gained a lot of experience by working as a freelancer and is now working as a trainer. As a developer, she has spoken at various international tech conferences around the globe about Big Data.


Website : https://www.zeolearn.com

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