Re: Xtreme Programming / Agile Development and Documentation

Subject: Re: Xtreme Programming / Agile Development and Documentation
From: Edwin Skau <eddy -dot- skau -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Sat, 19 Nov 2005 09:25:14 +0530


I once worked for a company that liked to call what they did "Xtreme
programming". There were also other projects that followed the
"Xtreme" model for which I provided documentation services as part of
a development outsourcing company. A lot of the time, I was ready for
a voice to come floating over the void saying, "Let there be Light!".

While it can be quite delightful for (those) developers who revel in
the opportunity to jump into coding without the responsibility of
recording more than the rudimentary architecture and data flow, it can
be hell on a writer.

In such projects, you would typically benefit from having a writer
assigned to each individual team involved. This writer would have to
stalk the team and pick up inspiration and tips from all three CSI
programs (also Numbers). A crash course in third-degree interrogation
methods would also come in handy ("We haf vays to make you talk,

OK that's from the experience I've had in firms where the term Xtreme
programming has been used as an excuse for highly reactive management
decisions and utter chaos (CMM level -3).

On the other hand, strategic Xtreme programming with a reasonable
writer-to-module/project mapping can be very interesting. In such an
environment you are not perceived as an add-on, but an integral part
of the development team. You get to see how technical concepts are
born, and develop into a product. Due to the nature of information
exchange, conversations are freer, and communication is freer and more

It, however, takes a certain kind of writer to fit in and make sense
in such an environment. Certainly not the kind of gig for the
faint-hearted or process-centric.


Never hit a man
with glasses;
Hit him
with a baseball bat.

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