Accelerating Agile Development through Software Reuse

[article]
Summary:

One of the main attractions of agile methods over traditional heavyweight approaches to software engineering is their ability to accelerate the software development process. By minimizing superfluous activities and artifacts such as models and documentation and focusing developers' efforts on coding, agile methods increase productivity and reduce overall development time.

One of the main attractions of agile methods over traditional, heavyweight approaches to software engineering is its ability to accelerate the software development process. By minimizing superfluous activities and artifacts, such as models and documentation, and focusing instead on coding, agile methods can increase productivity and reduce overall development time.

Focusing on coding, though, also has a down side. It means that new applications are typically written entirely from scratch. Software reuse, as envisaged by McIlroy back in 1969 [1] at the conference that coined the terms "software engineering" and "software crisis", is not explicitly addressed in the current generation of agile methods. If it takes place at all, reuse tends to be done in an ad hoc, unsystematic way.

Until recently this was not a major issue, as fine grained component reuse was not a cost effective proposition.  There simply were not enough good components around and the technologies available for finding them were too inaccurate. As a result, systematic attempts to reuse software did not pay off because the likelihood of finding suitable components was too low when compared to the effort required to find and evaluate them. However, this situation has changed over the last few years with the dramatic increase in the amount of open source software freely available over the Internet.  The emergence of high-performance code search engines such as Koders, Google Code Search and Merobase dedicated to indexing and support searches over these code resources has also contributed to its popularity. For the first time, these technologies make fine-grained component reuse a viable proposition, by reducing the effort involved in finding and reusing components to a similar or lower level, when compared with the effort of building them from scratch.

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