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Lightweight Methodologies Guru Holds Forth at SD West Conference

SAN JOSE, CA—Lightweight software development methodologies guru James A. Highsmith III gave attendees at the recent SD 2001 West developers' conference what show organizers characterized as "a whistlestop tour" of the major lightweight processes. Highsmith directs the Cutter Consortium's e-Project Management Advisory Service.

Lightweight methodologies—also known as "agile" methods—have few rules and practices, all of which are fairly easy to follow. Heavyweight methodologies, which the majority of software developers currently embrace, involve elaborate rules, extensive up-front planning, and piles of ongoing documentation—what senior GigaGroup analyst Uttam Narsu has called the "artifacts of the process."

Highsmith nurtures what he describes as a "passion" for paring development processes to the bone, to "slightly less than just enough," he says, "...otherwise, it's too much."

According to Highsmith, lightweight methodologies are gaining in popularity, and "home-grown" methods are proliferating worldwide—and not always with the support of the enterprise. He described a recent trip to India, during which he found that developers there often hid their individual lightweight approaches from their own companies.

During his presentation, Highsmith gave attendees an overview of the major lightweight or "agile" methodologies, including: Extreme Programming (XP), the New Methodology, the Crystal family of methodologies, SCRUM, the Dynamic System Development Method (DSDM), Lean Development, Peter Coad's minimalist five-step approach to software engineering; and Adaptive Software Development (ASD), Highsmith's own approach with three non-linear, overlapping phases at its heart: speculation, collaboration, and learning.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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