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Is there a canonical book on Agile?

I’ve read the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, and the twelve principles behind it.

What else can I read to get a reasonably comprehensive overview of what people (and by people, I mean people writing job adverts) specifically mean when they talk about Agile Software Development?

I get the sense that there are a few people using the term pretty loosely, so I’d like to have some more concrete ideas in my head to aid discussion (and, ultimately, actually help make software).

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marked as duplicate by Matthieu, gnat, Walter, Paul D. Waite, Yannis Rizos Feb 15 '12 at 13:56

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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Agile is a great development methodology. Waterfall works great too for specific circumstances and clients. Just watch out for the companies that claim Agile but do nothing of the sort because they are just spamming buzzwords to feel self important or they are grossly mismanaged. This is why it is important for any developer to be able to recognize the principles of Agile when evaluating companies for a job. –  maple_shaft Feb 15 '12 at 12:08
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Is your question any different than the one asking for a canonical book on Agile? –  Thomas Owens Feb 15 '12 at 12:38
    
@ThomasOwens: aha, it is not really, good spot. –  Paul D. Waite Feb 15 '12 at 13:52

2 Answers 2

There are several books available on various Agile methods, e.g.:

I can also recommend Alistair Cockburn's Agile Software Development, which gives a general overview of the topic, the philosophy behind the Agile movement, and briefly introduces various concrete methodologies.

What else can I read to get a reasonably comprehensive overview of what people (and by people, I mean people writing job adverts) specifically mean when they talk about Agile Software Development?

I would venture to say the typical HR guy/gal doesn't understand much of all this, they just know Agile is a buzzword in fashion, so they apply pattern-matching to the text of CVs received ;-)

I get the sense that there are a few people using the term pretty loosely

Only a few? ;-) Jokes aside, since Agile became fashionable, inevitably crowds of people started to talk about it without any actual experience of it. It is unfortunately very typical that managers brag about their SDLC being agile this and agile that, while in fact it is still some overcontrolled heavyweight big-M Methodology - or its opposite, cowboy coding on the loose.

So don't be too impressed by people talking about Agile - check whether they have any actual first-hand experience in it before believing what they say. Whenever someone tells you "oh, we use Scrum / XP / ... in our project", ask them about the details. Do they implement the process by the book, or have they modified it to suit their needs? Modification and adaptation of the SDLC is completely OK and in fact, part of any healthy agile process - up to a certain limit. But if a team claims to use e.g. XP, "only the customer is not sitting with us, we communicate via email... and we don't do pair programming because management disapproves it... oh and we don't have unit tests and continuous integration... and we document the requirements using a standard 50-page Word template... but other than these, we are fully Agile!"... well, then they aren't doing XP.

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“It is unfortunately very typical that managers brag about their SDLC being agile this and agile that, while in fact it is... cowboy coding on the loose.” — Totally. I swear some project managers saw the bit about “we welcome late changes in requirements” and thought “Great! We don’t have to design anything! Just give the developers a one-sentence description and a timebox of half an hour to develop it!” –  Paul D. Waite Feb 15 '12 at 13:52

I recommend "Engineering Long-Lasting Software: An Agile Approach Using SaaS and Cloud Computing, Alpha Edition".

I recommend this source because, unlike other books, it brings to the table real world examples, not just the theory. There are a lot of pure theory books about Agile and I think nobody needs those. Practical examples based on developing a SaaS solution with Ruby on Rails is what you get, along with tons of best practices, advices for beginners, references to other learning sources and other useful tips for developing "Long-Lasting software", the Agile way.

The book is written by two Stanford teachers, Armando Fox and David Patterson, and it's made mostly for students; but in my opinion everyone who engage in learning Agile practices is a student.

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