Agile Development Spawns a Lexicon

A software development methodology has created more than just code

3 min read
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Illustration: Dan Page
Through this work we have come to value: individuals and interactions over processes and tools; working software over comprehensive documentation; customer collaboration over contract negotiation; responding to change over following a plan.

In his 1957 bookParkinson’s Law, and Other Studies in Administration, the naval historian and author C. Northcote Parkinson writes of a fictional committee meeting during which, after a two-and-a-half-minute nondiscussion on whether to build a nuclear reactor worth US $10 million, the members spend 45 minutes discussing the power plant’s bike shed, worth $2,350. From this he coined Parkinson’s Law of Triviality: “Time spent on any item of the agenda will be in inverse proportion to the sum involved.”

Using Parkinson’s example, the programmer Poul-Henning Kamp popularized the term bikeshedding: frequent, detailed discussions on a minor issue conducted while major issues are being ignored or postponed. The functional opposite of bikeshedding is trystorming, which refers to rapidly and repeatedly prototyping or implementing new products and processes. In a bikeshedding culture, ideas get only a short discussion before being put off “for further study.” In a trystorming culture, that same idea would be immediately prototyped, modeled, simulated, mocked up, or implemented, and examined to see what works and what doesn’t. The trystorming motto is “Fail early, fail fast, fail often.”

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
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A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar
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You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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