Christian Sepulveda's Blog

November 16, 2005
Agile 2.0 and Web 2.0: A Perfect Match

Okay, so my title may be little exaggerated, especially since there isn't officially an Agile 2.0. However, for the agile development community, there are many shifts, trends and new ideas that make it feel like a new generation of agile development. (More on this later.)

Anyway, I've been following some of the Web 2.0 developments lately; I've read many blog posts ( is a good place to start for those interested), heard gossip about VC funding, and know a few people working on Web 2.0 projects. All of this information makes me think an agile approach is perfectly matched for the development of Web 2.0 applications.

Agile development emphasizes the need for feedback, discovery and adaptation. A common agile credo is "release early, release often." Agile development is basically a genetic algorithm (for more on this, read this post); an agile approach evolves its software. Evaluating the "fitness" of the application with each iteration is critical. Real user feedback is one of the best indicators for making such an evaluation.

Most Web 2.0 projects (or at least those I have seen) are consumer oriented. Consumer oriented, service-based software markets are generally accommodating (and sometimes welcome) frequent releases, assuming each release is at least as good and as stable as the previous. Agile development favors short iterations and core practices such as automated testing and continuous integration develop the ability to release early, often and reliably as a core competency of its adopters.

Most projects in early stages are based on a vision and skeleton of a possible solution; success is largely determined by how quickly the application can evolve into what user's need. Quick delivery is necessary to compete and not miss windows of opportunity. I think the best software process to support this is based on an agile model. One of my former clients (when I was a consultant) believed this as well and feels that their agile adoption was a key facilitator of their IPO last year. I also know some very large, high profile, Bay Area web companies who are adopting agile software development and see it as necessary to remain competitive.

I think others support the complementary nature of agile and Web 2.0; the canonical book on Ruby on Rails, one of the popular Web 2.0 enabling technologies, is Agile Web Development with Rails. It describes how Rails development embodies and accommodates an agile approach.

I noted that I believe the agile community is undergoing Agile 2.0. Last year the 2nd edition of the XP white book was published, in which Kent Beck revised and updated his description of XP. Mary Poppendieck's keynote address at XP/AU 2004 described agile as "crossing Moore's chasm"; it is shifting from early adopters to mainstream. While some feel this shift may water down agile, I think it can amplify its effectiveness; many in the agile community have updated and evolved their ideas to better support the software development process.

Finally, I have also adopted a more mature understanding of agile development. I've had many successes in my career applying agile methods, but have been challenged in my current job and our agile adoption. These challenges have caused me to reflect on many assumptions and ask many questions. Though I have more questions than resolutions (which I think is a good sign you are actually learning), my understanding and application of agile software development has evolved into its own "next generation." I know a few others who share many of my ideas and are working in the Web 2.0 space. For these instances, I am excited to see how the combination of Agile and Web 2.0 turns out.

Posted by csepulv at November 16, 2005 02:18 PM


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