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Extreme programming

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Overview

eXtreme Programming (XP) is a software development methodology which is intended to improve software quality and responsiveness to changing customer requirements. As a type of agile software development, it advocates frequent “releases” in short development cycles, which is intended to improve productivity and introduce checkpoints at which new customer requirements can be adopted.

Basic principles of Extreme programming


XP is based on the frequent iteration through which the developers implement User Stories. User stories are simple and informal statements of the customer about the functionalities needed. A User story is a conventional description by the user about a feature of the required system. It does not mention finer details such as the different scenarios that can occur. On the basis of User stories, the project team proposes Metaphors. Metaphors are a common vision of how the system would work. The development team may decide to build a Spike for some feature. A Spike is a very simple program that is constructed to explore the suitability of a solution being proposed. It can be considered similar to a prototype. Some of the basic activities that are followed during software development by using XP model are given below:


Coding: The concept of coding which is used in XP model is slightly different from traditional coding. Here, coding activity includes drawing diagrams (modeling) that will be transformed into code, scripting a web-based system and choosing among several alternative solutions.


Testing: XP model gives high importance on testing and considers it be the primary factor to develop a fault-free software.


Listening: The developers needs to carefully listen to the customers if they have to develop a good quality software. Sometimes programmers may not have the depth knowledge of the system to be developed. So, it is desirable for the programmers to understand properly the functionality of the system and they have to listen to the customers.


Designing: Without a proper design, a system implementation becomes too complex and very difficult to understand the solution, thus it makes maintenance expensive. A good design results elimination of complex dependencies within a system. So, effective use of suitable design is emphasized.


Feedback: One of the most important aspects of the XP model is to gain feedback to understand the exact customer needs. Frequent contact with the customer makes the development effective.


Simplicity: The main principle of the XP model is to develop a simple system that will work efficiently in present time, rather than trying to build something that would take time and it may never be used. It focuses on some specific features that are immediately needed, rather than engaging time and effort on speculations of future requirements.

Good Practices


Other elements of eXtreme Programming include: programming in pairs or doing extensive code review, unit testing of all code, avoiding programming of features until they are actually needed, a flat management structure, simplicity and clarity in code, expecting changes in the customer’s requirements as time passes and the problem is better understood, and frequent communication with the customer and among programmers. The methodology takes its name from the idea that the beneficial elements of traditional software engineering practices are taken to “extreme” levels. As an example, code reviews are considered a beneficial practice; taken to the extreme, code can be reviewed continuously, i.e. the practice of pair programming.

References

  1. “Human Centred Technology Workshop 2005”, 2005, PDF webpage: Informatics-UK-report-cdrp585.
  2. a b “Design Patterns and Refactoring”, University of Pennsylvania, 2003, webpage: UPenn-Lectures-design-patterns.
  3. a b “Extreme Programming” USFCA-edu-601-lecture.