Erroneous and Dangerous Agile Criticism

Today David Longstreet posted a comment in our blog with a link to the article with agile criticism. He mentioned that he doesn’t like agile. It is always interesting to check opponents arguments, so I’ve read the article.

I should say that I was really disappointed. The article contains general speculations and almost no concrete comparisons. Common agile principles were disconsidered with strange comparisons and conclusions.

I can’t resist from providing some quotes and my thoughts:

“Agile proponents believe discipline is not necessary and inhibits productivity.”

This only phrase clearly shows how author is incompetent in agile software development. What the hell “discipline is not necessary”? How it relates to Extreme Programming where discipline is a KEY to success XP adoption? Extreme Programming is hard to adopt since it do require high responsibility and discipline to write all that unit tests, do refactoring, do daily meetings, track progress each day. If you’ve tried to release something useful and usable each month you know what kind of discipline it requires.

“Agile proponents believe documentation is an overhead cost and should be reduced or eliminated.”

Documentation should be just enough. Large teams need more docs, while small teams can work almost without documentation. The main goal is to build and deliver working software. Nobody wants working documentation if software is a crap.

In fact, would you turn over 200-300 thousand dollars to have your home constructed using the same principles advocated by Agile or Xetreme programming. The answer of course is no.

What a dull example! What should I do to change color scheme on my web site? Yes, change several css styles. It will take 5 minutes. What should I do to change color of my house? Yes, buy several gallons of paint, take brush and spend next few days on that task. Changes in software are rather easy, changes in constructions are hard.

Look. If the building company may build 1 room, 1 kitchen and 1 bathroom ready for leaving within 1 month and then tell me that I may move into the house right away, I don’t mind! (if they can build and decorate other rooms, cellar, garden, etc. without disturbing me). But building companies do not have such technologies. Software development companies have! That is the difference. The comparison above is pointless.

“Architects actively gather requirements and they study their clients.
On the other hand, software developers passively gather requirements and often don’t have a clue about their customer or their business.”

Such software development companies will die pretty soon. No way. Agile development is all about customers needs and business value delivery.

“Unfortunately the bulk of Agile software methods deal with coding techniques and testing. Those organizations that spend the least amount of time in coding are those organizations with the highest productivity and quality levels. It does not matter what you make if you spend more time testing than you did making something you have a problem. Testing should never be more than 50% of any project. In the future programming will become like welding, carpentry, and plumbing is today. The most prestigious professionals in the construction industry today are architects and the same will be true for software.”

What about SCRUM? What about all these agile principles that focuses on productivity and quality? Unfortunately software industry is not in the phase to create products without coding. Model Driven Architecture (MDA) maybe promising approach, but not mature yet. So we have to code, sorry. What it means? We should optimize coding and increase productivity or invent better approach (like MDA). Why building companies still can’t grow a house from a seed? I want to by a small 200 square metre house in my hypermarket packed in a nice small box!

“The primary reason why it is difficult to apply measurement to software organizations is because software organizations are chaotic. Every single time a development project is done it is done differently. […] In other words, the entire process is just a mess.”

Similar projects should be done similarly. Different projects SHOULD be done differently. Period. Agile strives for defined process that will evolve and adopt to any project. There is a deep misunderstanding of agile principles and ideas.

I don’t know the reasons why the author wrote the article, but it is unprofessional. It does not show agile disadvantages, but looks like desperate attack on agile positions.