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Planning Extreme Programming [Paperback]

by Kent Beck, Martin Fowler
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 26, 2000 0201710919 978-0201710915 1
Planning is critical; without it, software projects can quickly fall apart. Written by acknowledged XP authorities Kent Beck and Martin Fowler, Planning Extreme Programming presents the approaches, methods, and advice needed to plan and track a successful Extreme Programming project. The key XP philosophy: Planning is not a one-time event, but a constant process of reevaluation and course-correction throughout the lifecycle of the project. Students will learn how planning is essential to controlling workload, reducing programmer stress, increasing productivity, and keeping projects on track. Planning Extreme Programming also focuses on the importance of estimating the cost and time for each user story (requirement), determining its priority, and planning software releases accordingly.

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Planning Extreme Programming + Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change, 2nd Edition (The XP Series) + Test Driven Development: By Example
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Editorial Reviews Review

The Extreme Programming (XP) paradigm has developers doing things like programming in pairs, writing tests to verify all code, and continuously refactoring designs for improved performance. Written by two of its inventors, Planning Extreme Programming shows you how to implement XP by using a simple, effective process. This remarkably short (yet remarkably useful) title will give any XP manager or programmer a perspective on delivering software that meets the needs of customers better.

Simplicity is the watchword of the XP software process. This book is virtually devoid of traditional software-engineering jargon and design diagrams, and yet does a good job of laying the foundation of how to perform XP--which is all about working with a customer to deliver features incrementally.

The terminology in the book is commonsensical. (In the terms of XP, each iteration adds certain new features, or stories. It's up to the customer to decide what functionality is more important and will be delivered first. By never letting a working build get out of sight, the XP process virtually ensures that software will be close to what the customer wants.)

Early chapters borrow analogies from everyday experience--like planning a trip or driving a car--to set the stage for XP process planning. The book has plenty of advice for dealing with the stakeholders (customers) of a project. Because of confidentiality agreements, however, we don't get many details from the real world, although the discussion is anchored by a hypothetical project for planning the Web site of the future for travel, with some specifics.

There is plenty of advice for planning projects, based on individual and team "velocity" (a measure of productivity) and the like--practical suggestions for running daily, short status meetings (in which all of the participants stand up, to keep them short). Clearly, there's a culture that surrounds many XP teams, and this text does a good job of conveying some of this to the reader.

At fewer than 150 pages, Planning Extreme Programming is notably concise, and that's probably the whole point. Most shops today work on Internet time, which doesn't wait for extensive project analysis and design documents. In XP, you create working software from the very start. This book is an essential guide to anyone who's working in XP shops or who might be interested in what this innovative, iterative software process can offer. --Richard Dragan

Topics covered:

  • Introduction to planning
  • Risk management in software
  • "Driving" as a metaphor for software development
  • Roles for software development: business vs. technical people
  • Four variables for project planning: cost, quality, time, and scope
  • Predicting future programmer productivity, based on past performance
  • Project scope and estimation
  • The XP process: software releases, iterations, stories, collecting, and writing stories (features)
  • Hints for ordering features
  • Tips on planning and status meetings
  • Using visual graphs to monitor project progress
  • Tracking and fixing bugs
  • Project red flags

From the Inside Flap

This is a book about planning software projects. We are writing it mostly for project managers--those who have to plan and track the correspondence of the planning with reality. We also are writing it for programmers and customers, who have a vital role to play in planning and developing software. Planning is not about predicting the future. When you make a plan for developing a piece of software, development is not going to go like that. Not ever. Your customers wouldn't even be happy if it did, because by the time the software gets there, the customers don't want what was planned; they want something different.

Like so many, we enjoy Eisenhower's quotation: "In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable." That's why this isn't a book about plans; it's about planning. And planning is so valuable and important, so vital, that it deserves to go on a little every day, as long as development lasts.

If you follow the advice in this book, you are going to have a new problem to solve every day--planning--but we won't apologize for that, because without planning, software development inevitably goes off the rails. The scope of this book is deliberately narrow. It covers how to plan and track software development for XP projects. It's based on our experience as consultants and coaches, together with the experience of the growing band of early adopters who are using XP.

As a result this isn't a book about the whole of project management. We don't cover typical project manager jobs such as personnel evaluation, recruiting, and budgeting. We don't address the issues of large projects with hordes of developers, nor do we say anything about planning in the context of other software processes, or of planning other activities. We think there are principles and techniques here that everyone can use, but we have stuck to the parts of the process we know--getting everybody on the team pointed in one direction, discovering when this is no longer true, and restoring harmony.

XP (Extreme Programming) is a system of practices (you can use the m-word if you want to; we'd rather not, thank you) that a community of software developers is evolving to address the problems of quickly delivering quality software, and then evolving it to meet changing business needs.

XP isn't just about planning. It covers all aspects of small team software development--design, testing, implementation, deployment, and maintenance. However, planning is a key piece of the XP puzzle. (For an overview of XP, read Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change. While you're at it, buy copies of all of the rest of our books, too.)

XP addresses long projects by breaking them into a sequence of self-contained, one- to three-week mini-projects. During each iteration

Customers pick the features to be added. Programmers add the features so they are completely ready to be deployed. Programmers and customers write and maintain automated tests to demonstrate the presence of these features. Programmers evolve the design of the system to gracefully support all the features in the system.

Without careful planning, the process falls apart.

The team must choose the best possible features to implement. The team must react as positively as possible to the inevitable setbacks. Team members must not overcommit, or they will slow down. The team must not undercommit, or customers won't get value for their money. Team members must figure out clearly where they are and report this accurately, so that everyone can adjust their plans accordingly

The job of the daily planner is to help keep the team on track in all these areas.

We come by our project planning ideas by necessity. As consultants, we are usually introduced to projects when they are mostly dead. The projects typically aren't doing any planning, or they are drowning in too much planning of the wrong sort.

The resulting ideas are the simplest planning ideas we could think of that could possibly work. But above all, remember all the planning techniques in the world, including these, can't save you if you forget that software is built by human beings. In the end keep the human beings focused, happy, and motiviated and they will deliver. Kent Beck, Merlin, Oregon
Martin Fowler, Melrose, Massachusetts martinfowler
July 2000

I have a cunning plan.
--Baldrick, Blackadder


Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (October 26, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201710919
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201710915
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7.4 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #809,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to make things work by making them small December 4, 2000
Skepticism about new techniques is a natural state for programmers and those who manage them. Hype amid the desperate search for effective strategies is one of the many factors contributing to the poor rate of success in the business. Extreme programming, where development is broken up into a series of microcycles performed by small teams, is an apparent step backwards in the evolution of the planning of software projects. I was initially very skeptical about it, for the primary reason that not all things can be broken up into executable cycles of approximately two weeks in length.
However, this book, packed with some of the most sensible advice you can find, sold me on the concept, if not the implementation. The approach is an admirable one, let the customer decide. If the project and customers are worth having, then there will be more features than can be implemented in the allotted time. Since slipping the release date is NOT considered an option, it is the responsibility of the customer to choose what is to be delayed or eliminated. A synergy between developers, marketers, and customers where all work together and know where they stand is certainly a desirable goal. The reason for my skepticism is that in my experience, the customers are not as cognizant of their priorities as those ideals used in the book. However, the advice given here will help you approach this ideal state of affairs.
The tactic is to refer to all features and descriptions as stories. I am generally not one who is fond of someone taking semantic license in describing circumstances. However, in this case, it does fit. The description of software is very much like a story in that your ideal is a fiction that may never be achieved.
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60 of 66 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential, If a Tad Narrow December 25, 2000
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The many other reviews here give you a sense of what you'll find in this book. I think there is one important point that is missing from this picture: the fact that the focus of the authors in this and the first book is on software processes where there really is no visioning going on at all. What do I mean by that? Well, in the first book they are describing the writing of a payroll program (their project @ Chrysler). In this book it's a travel application. Thankfully, not all of us are writing software that has been written a thousand times before. While this may sound like a trifle, I believe it is a central point with regard to this book. The whole concept of iterative, incremental development takes on a different hue when you remove visioning from the process. In fact, what the world really needs to figure out how to do is not write the 10,000th payroll program faster than someone else, but how to write new, innovative software on time allowances that are absurdly short. I think the next volume if there is to be one, should be a detailed account of a project where the team had to navigate the process through not only implementation but realization of an evolving, sophisticated vision. Finally, consider the fact that software development that requires no visioning is basically a craft that's akin to dressmaking. While some people are happy to see their creativity as 'developers' manifest solely in finding crafty implementations, let's face the facts: we need to figure out how to get beyond just opposing tribes matching each other's features on models that are overdue for commodification.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How exactly to plan XP? January 6, 2003
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is very valuable if you already started to practice Extreme Programming. It contains a very encouraging foreword by Tom DeMarco. The first nine chapters are introductory, and you may skip them if you read the XP Manifesto "Extreme Programming Explained" by Kent Beck. Chapters from ten to twenty three contain valuable information not found in any other XP-related book.
- How exactly to plan releases? What if frequent releases aren't appropriate and marketing demands to release once a year?
- How exactly to write user stories, and how to handle them? Although the reader may find some sample stories in "Extreme Programming Installed" by Ron Jeffries, Ann Anderson and Chet Hendrickson, the stories in the "Planning Extreme Programming" are used as core elements in the whole planning process, shown as example.
- How exactly to build the iteration plan and the release plan? How to track an iteration?
I would also like to recommend "Extreme Programming Applied: Playing to Win" by Ken Auer, Roy Miller, Ward Cunningham. I think this is the most practical book on XP ever written.
I would also like to recommend the titles about individual XP aspects:
- Design Improvement: "Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code " by Martin Fowler;
- Test-Driven Development: "Test Driven Development: By Example " by Kent Beck;
- Sustainable Pace: "Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency" by Tom DeMarco;
- Pair Programming: "Pair Programming Illuminated" by Laurie Williams and Robert Kessler;
- Whole Team: "Agile Software Development" by Alistair Cockburn;
- Planning Game: "Planning Extreme Programming" by Kent Beck, Martin Fowler;
- Small Releases: "Software Project Survival Guide" by Steve C McConnell.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A great introduction to planning software & beyond!
A friend gave me this book to get me introduced to agile and extreme programming. What I really love about the book is how it's lesson apply across many different types of... Read more
Published 7 months ago by -
4.0 out of 5 stars Objective overview of XP planning
Using a very objective and simple approach, the book presents the xp way of planning in a very easy and enjoyable way. Read more
Published on May 12, 2007 by Fabio Lessa
5.0 out of 5 stars Begin Your XP Journey Here
Well, I had been tentative about spending time investigating the meaning of "Extreme Programming", based primarily on what I consider to be a name that smacks of jargon, and... Read more
Published on July 10, 2006 by Andy King
4.0 out of 5 stars crackles with ideas and fleshes out more of XP
Kent Beck and Martin Fowler have to be something of a "dream team" for a computer book. Not only was this book informative and interesting, but I actually enjoyed reading... Read more
Published on September 7, 2003 by Frank Carver
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
This book lays out the point of planning, the approach taken, and the steps to do.
This book has a lot of content not found in any other XP book that I own. Read more
Published on August 4, 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Nothing wrong with it
If you are a clever developer, and if you take yourself and software development very seriously, then this is not the book for you. Read more
Published on December 9, 2002 by Wilfred Springer
1.0 out of 5 stars Deja Vu all over again
Didnt I just read all of this in some of the other books in the series?
Extreme Programming Installed is the best of the lot. Read more
Published on October 2, 2001
1.0 out of 5 stars Very Similar to Extreme Programming Explained
If youve real Extreme Programming explained then this book offers very little additional information. Most of the books in this series are very similar to each other. Read more
Published on September 21, 2001 by James Frohnhofer
1.0 out of 5 stars RIPOFF. AVOID. Rehash of other books.
This was a complete waste of ....
First of all, ... for 140 pages is a ripoff, compared to the other XP books in the series which have almost double the pages. Read more
Published on September 3, 2001
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for every project
I found this book to be a quick and easy read, even for a project planning book. While I was already familiar with the concepts of XP Planning from reading various articles, it... Read more
Published on August 5, 2001 by "sbgantz"
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