Co-authors of the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, which is changing the course of how software is developed, reunited in Utah on Monday evening to field questions about the about the impacts of the document since it was formulated more than 10 years ago and what it could mean for the future.
Also known as the Agile Manifesto, the document has served as a treatise on use of agile programming, in which software is developed in short iterations, allowing for changing of requirements and leveraging motivated developers working in teams. Agile programming has offered an alternative to 25-year-old waterfall-based processes now considered cumbersome by many. Fifteen of the 17 co-authors gathered onstage at the Agile 2011 Conference in Salt Lake City, the largest such gathering of the co-authors since the document was forged in the Wasatch mountains of Utah in February 2001.
Citing the spread of agile programming, co-author Alistair Cockburn cited a contract for 24 hospitals in the state of Utah requiring its use. Agile programming, said co-author Martin Fowler, is now out in the open as opposed to being something developers used to be afraid to discuss. "Now we don't have to hide the fact."
But other co-authors decried a lack of commitment to agile programming principles. "There has been a considerable dumbing-down of agile as it has overtaken waterfall," said co-author Brian Marick. Co-author Ron Jeffries added, "My biggest disappointment is that everyone wants to be agile and that too few people want to do it [right]." Fowler concurred that some who claim to be agile are not, calling this a "consequence of [agile's] success."
Agile programming now is being extended to other areas beyond software development, noted co-author Andy Hunt. "We set up a publishing company based on agile practices," he said as an example. Co-author Jim Highsmith argued that agile practices could benefit the whole enterprise, through use in functional business units besides IT. Lkewise, Co-author Mike Beedle predicted that an agile framework would emerge for middle management.
Co-author Robert Martin recalled the genesis of the meeting that led to the manifesto. He and Fowler met in Chicago to plan the event. "We sat at a coffee shop in which we sketched out a meeting which we called the Lightweight Process Summit," he said.
Other co-authors present Monday were Ari van Bennekum, Ward Cunningham, James Grenning, Jon Kern, Steve Mellor, Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland. Co-authors Dave Thomas and Kent Beck were unable to attend.