Extreme Programming (XP)

Extreme Programming (XP) is an agile software development methodology for creating higher-quality software and improving developers’ quality of life.

From the start of any project, developers find themselves changing plans to keep up with the needs and demands of the business or client. Traditional development techniques may fail to keep up with such shifting requirements, slowing down development work in the process. As a result, agile methodologies such as XP have risen to improve responsiveness and delivery rates.

In this glossary article, we will highlight the facets of XP, from its values to the primary practices.

What is Extreme Programming? 

Extreme programming, or XP, is an agile framework whose primary objective is to improve the development team’s working conditions as well as improve software delivery time.

With XP, its highlight feature is its focus on several releases across short intervals, allowing teams to check their progress towards goals at several points during the project cycle. In the end, this makes them more adaptable to the project’s needs. 

The Process of Extreme Programming 

To apply XP to the software development workspace, teams must adjust their workflow toward the agile framework. Without flexibility, it can be hard to ensure your projects are completed on time—and within the budget.

These are the continuously iterating phases of extreme programming:

Step 1: Planning 

In this phase, the development team meets with customers through means such as customer stories and feedback. The developers will then plan out the development and release window by breaking down goals into iterations. Each iteration will address specific concerns, which will build on top of one another to improve the software continuously. If unable to address particular issues, developers will assign these as spikes for future research. 

Step 2: Designing

This development phase involves simplifying the development plan as much as possible. Simplicity is vital for XP to ensure that customers receive value without delay. 

Step 3: Coding

Actual software development occurs in this phase of work. Developers will write the algorithms and code that comprise the actual product that will reach customers. In addition, XP teams will enact policies that adhere to the agile framework, such as collective code ownership, continuous integration, and pair programming.

Step 4: Testing

This phase is a fundamental process involved in XP. Here, developers will run automated tests to determine whether the new features added in the coding phase work as intended. Furthermore, the team will again request customer feedback to determine if the requested features align with customer needs. 

Step 5: Listening

Finally, listening is another essential part of the XP process. Continuous communication between customers, managers, and the development team ensures that the software continuously provides value. 

The Values of Extreme Programming 

In 1996, Kent Beck developed extreme programming during his work with Chrysler. The idea behind the project was to enhance payroll delivery for the team at Chrysler. Throughout his work, he highlighted the values necessary for XP. 

These values of XP include: 

  1. Communication - Everyone within the development team needs to be in touch throughout the entire development process to ensure everyone works jointly during the whole development cycle. 
  2. Simplicity - Developers strive to write efficiently executed and simple code to quickly deliver value to customers’ hands.
  3. Feedback - Feedback from managers and customers is essential for developers to address relevant features and issues.
  4. Respect - Everyone needs to work together and contribute towards creating software. 
  5. Courage - Programmers need to assess their work without bias and be open to criticism to respond to change adequately.

The Practices of Extreme Programming

The best XP teams follow a set of practices to ensure that programmers enjoy a better quality of life during the development process. Furthermore, these practices are in place to help deliver value to customers. The rules can be grouped into four different categories: 

1. Feedback

Ensures communication between customers, managers, and programmers. Some keys aspects of good feedback are:

  • Test-Driven Development (TDD) - Development must go through a testing phase before reaching customers. 
  • The Planning Game - Customers will interact with developers to become the driving force for the development. Each iteration cycle will be based on feedback received through this practice.
  • On-site Customer- Customers should be present during all phases of development to ensure that their needs are met. 
  • Pair Programming - Programmers will work in pairs, one that writes the code and another that reviews it.

2. Continual Process

 XP involves a continuous cycle of development, such as:

  • Continuous Integration - This is a form of iterative development where programmers commit changes to the software code multiple times during the workday. 
  • Code Refactoring - XP teams reuse code while removing redundancies, bugs, and extraneous functions. Programmers use this practice the ensure the simplicity of the code. 
  • Small Releases - XP teams focus on incremental updates so that customers receive value consistently and the software receives frequent updates.

3. Code Understanding

Simple code enables the entire team to comprehend the ins and outs of their product. These are the best ways to ensure proper code understanding:

  • Simple Design - XP teams strive to create the most straightforward product they can quickly build upon. 
  • Collective Code Ownership - This practice of XP enables collaboration across the entire development team. Each team member needs to understand the software code to ensure that irrelevant functions are not added to the software. 
  • Coding Standard - The entire team must work with the same coding standards. 

4. Work Conditions

With XP practices, development teams have better working conditions. XP teams are limited to a 40-hour workweek.

Difference Between Scrum and Extreme Programming

Scrum is an application of the agile methodology that help teams create solutions for problems in an iterative manner. In essence, this is similar to extreme programming, whose purpose is to deliver software iteratively. 

The only difference between scrum and extreme programming is how it’s applied. Scrum can be used for project management and product development. On the other hand, extreme programming is primarily relevant to software development. 

Extreme Programming: Delivering Value to Customers 

With poor management and adequate planning, customers will probably receive substandard software. Moreover, rushed development can introduce bugs into software code. In addition, programmers can face harsh working conditions under these circumstances. 

Extreme programming is an answer to this problem. By developing software through iteration, customers promptly receive value. Furthermore, programmers have an enhanced quality of life.