The Use of Agile -

The Use of Agile

Agile 2007 is coming to WashingtonDC in August. This gathering of agile practitioners, lecturers, andother interested parties promises to be an interesting pedagogicalopportunity that will incorporate plenty of informal opportunities tonetwork with like-minded developers.

The agile movement found its roots in IT, and has slowly made someinroads into the firmware sector. My observations suggest that, todate, embedded developers use either few of agile's tenants, orcherry-pick a handful best practices into more traditional strategies.It's somewhat rare to find a shop that employs, say, all 12 of eXtremeProgramming's (XP) practices.

Some XPers maintain that there is only One True Way to do XP. Otherssuggest that eXtreme Programming is more a framework that one tunes toa particular environment.

Me, I think that some of the approach's ideas should be shouted fromthe rooftops, praised in pulpits and embraced by all developers. Othersare totally batty ” or are perhaps only suited for an environment likeweb development that is practically orthogonal to embedded systems.

But all truly professional developers, even if totally cynical aboutthe agile methods, should be intimately familiar with the precepts.Professionalism implies a deep connection with one's field, and awillingness to learn and use new ideas. Any developer who isn't payingattention to the agile revolution isn't part of the community ofsoftware developers.

Agile topics routinely make it into the sessions at the EmbeddedSystems Conference. Those classes are well-attended, suggesting a lotof interest in this topic from firmware types. Interestingly, I can'tthink of any classes advocating big-bang design.

Two classes at Agile 2007 will be focused on embedded development.

I talk to folks all the time who express disappointment with a bookor a conference. They've learned a few things, gotten some fodder forthought, but had hoped for total enlightenment from the Mount. I figuregood ideas are scarce.

A book, a discussion, a conference that yields one good idea is irreplaceable. One that produces a single great idea mightsave weeks or months of work, or might spur a train of thought thatresults in a new product or a startup.

I haven't been to previous Agile Conferences, but plan to spend sometime at this one, hoping to find a neat idea or two, or maybe just tomeet some insightful folks that help birth new concepts. In myexperience, it's pretty hard to attend any sort of conference and notlearn something.

What do you think? What is agile's role in firmware development?Will you go to the conference.

Late update: according to the website, the conference isalready sold out.

Jack G. Ganssle is a lecturer and consultant on embeddeddevelopment issues. He conducts seminars on embedded systems and helpscompanies with their embedded challenges. Contact him at . His website is

IF Project = (small AND non-critical AND non-complex) THEN Agile


not Agile;

– Martin Allen

Agile is based on iterative and incremental development. A technique that has been in use for a few decades. The practices of agile are helping a lot of developers and teams get their work done predictably with high quality. Keep an open mind. Keep learning.

– James Grenning

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