Extreme programmer hits Joburg

By   |  June 29, 2005

Kent Beck, founder of the eXtreme programming(XP) concept, arrived in South Africa this week for a series of public lectures and workshops. Hosted by the Johannesburg Centre for Software Excellence and Psybergate, Beck’s visit is part of the JCSE’s plan to improve the local software engineering industry and make South Africa more internationally competitive in producing quality software.

Barry Dwolatzky, JCSE academic director, says \”thought leaders like Beck will help to improve South Africa’s skills base and build capacity in the software development industry.\”

Beck will be giving public lectures and master classes in both Johannesburg and Cape Town. Beck will also be meeting with government and businesses during his visit to SA.

Fazel Mayet, Psybergate CEO, says eXtreme programming is well suited to South Africa because the country has always been innovative in developing new software.

“XP focuses more on skills, experience and know-how of developers than on the process aspect of software development. The set of protocols helps developers to work together to produce reliable, agile software. This lowers the cost of development by making the development process more efficient and helps South Africa produce quality software as well as positioning it as a sought after software developing nation,” he says.

XP is therefore ideal for software development companies with small development teams who are innovative and rely on the creative skill of their developers to produce good reliable software, says Mayet.

Beck says XP principles include planning, small releases, metaphor, simple design, testing, refactoring, pair programming, collective ownership, continuous Integration, 40-hour working weeks, on-site customer and coding standards.

“These principles are based on a core set of values, which include communication, simplicity, feedback, courage and respect,” he says

Beck says these principles can be customised by a development team and implemented all at once or in a phased approach. “Weekly meetings are then held to check the progression of the project and ensure that each part of the development process is integrated with what has gone before it,” he says. This leads to fewer defects, more predictability in the process and a greater flexibility in the software, as well as a closer conformity between the delivered features and the needs of the client.

Dwolatzky says Beck’s public lectures are aimed at CEOs and CIOs and will focus more on how implementing XP principles can make businesses more competitive locally and internationally with software development giants like India. The master classes will be more technical with up to 25 developers spending the day with Beck and working on hands-on assignments.

After giving his public lecture (28 June 2005), master class (29 June 2005) and meeting with local companies in Johannesburg, Beck will fly to Cape Town where a master class will be given on 5 July 2005 in Stellenbosch and a public lecture at the University of Cape Town on 6 July 2005. Beck will also be meeting with companies in Cape Town.

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