Agile software development is now mainstream

A new Forrester report finds widespread use of the iterative software development processes

Agile software development processes, in which software is built in short iterations rather than mapped out fully in advance, have joined the mainstream of development approaches, according to a Forrester Research report released this week.

Forrester surveyed nearly 1,300 IT professionals and found that 35 percent of respondents stated that agile most closely reflects their development process, with the number increasing to 46 percent if the definition of agile is expanded to include practices such as rational unified process or spiral.

[ InfoWorld reported last year that while agile programming is beneficial, it will nonetheless ruffle feathers. ]

"Perhaps the clearest sign of the mainstreaming of agile is the abandonment of orthodoxy: Teams are puzzling out the mix of methodologies and combining them to fit within their organizational realities, blending agile and non-agile techniques and practices to create a hybrid methodology that fits larger organizations," according to the executive summary of the report, which is entitled "Agile Development: Mainstream Adoption has changed Agility."

"It's time for software development professionals to stop sitting on the fence where agile is concerned. According to those who have successfully adopted agile, the benefits are well worth the effort, and with the recent dramatic increase in agile adoption, the probability of working in or with an agile team has increased for everyone," Forrester said.

The favored agile methodology, scrum, was used by nearly 11 percent of respondents. "Scrum focuses on how people work instead of on the work that they do, and it relies on the principles laid out in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development," Forrester said.

However, teams are choosing parts of different process models.

"Most teams are not adopting scrum, extreme programming, or another specific Agile approach, but are embracing agile as an ethos or philosophy and cherry-picking the best bits from many different process models to develop a formula unique to their own situation," according to the report.

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