Agility's in, CMM's dead

Agile processes will dominate software development within five years, according to leading lights of the developer world assembled in Wellington last week.

Agile processes will dominate software development within five years, according to leading lights of the developer world assembled in Wellington last week.

So thorough will be the takeover by agile methods that one of the fathers of the capability maturity model (CMM) of development, Don O’Neill, predicts the death of his child.

O’Neill, an American consultant, was part of a panel of overseas luminaries of software engineering at the Software Developers Conference, which drew about 150 attendees.

CMM, whose demise he forecast, is a document-centric approach to development which demands a massive commitment from software houses which embark upon it.

As O’Neill wrote its obituary, one member of his audience from a company with a large Wellington-based development team had just been given the job of creating a CMM practice. He didn’t want to comment on O’Neill’s assertion.

The Software Education Associates’-organised conference is the premier local software engineering event but a number of large companies were noticeably absent. But many of those who did attend seemed excited about agile methods, and extreme programming in particular.

One attendee, who didn’t want to be named, said that his Christchurch company practised an agile methodology introduced to it by panel member Jim Highsmith about 18 months ago.

“We knew that we were doing well,” he said, “but now I realise how much better we can be.”

Highsmith, of the US Cutter Consortium, speculated on “software development five years from now” with fellow panellists O’Neill, Steve McConnell (editor of the IEEE’s publication Software) and UML specialist Martin Fowler.

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