e-Talk Radio: Extreme Programming, 1 February 2001


What kind of things are plaguing us? Well, we've got things like false features, we've got cancellations, we've got changes in business, we've got defect-prone software that's delivered, we've got in this Internet age especially, situations where we have customers who can kind of tell you what they need in their software, especially if it's Web-based software. But they can't tell you really what they need sometimes until after they've seen what they don't need. And we used to call that prototyping in software development. Now we've got the challenge of really kind of Internet seed development. It was explained to me in this type of manner, that typically what we do on large projects, is we will plan, we will plan kind of like AAA, the automobile association, will do TripTiks. If you want to go from where I live in Tampa to Jacksonville, for example, TripTiks will give you every stopping point, every light change, basically, that you go on I-75. And it's all planned out to the nth degree, and it tells you exactly how much time it should take you to drive between Tampa and Jacksonville.

Well, what happens when the very first time you get in your car and you've got it all planned out, that you're going to be in Jacksonville at suppertime? You get in the car, you round the corner, and there's an accident, or there are road delays, or anything like that. Suddenly, that solid plan goes out the window. Let's apply that to Internet-type development. Today, in today's marketplace, the marketing managers are going to say something like, "I need to be able to have this, this, and this functionality today, immediately, right now. You have three months to deliver it." That's your challenge. So you start programming, and using the traditional way, what you would do is you would lay out the requirements. We would have a prolonged requirements-gathering process, and people would say, "Well, I kind of want that. No, I don't want that." They're not totally sure. And once you've finally got the requirements solid, and you start going into the analysis and design, guess what? Things start changing at Internet speed.

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