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Why my son should be named “Kent Beck Wegner”

If you haven’t read Why I Quit Programming, do that first.

To continue . . .

I quit programming and pretty much did nothing for twelve months – until our company flamed out and I was out on the street. Part of me was sad that six years of work had gone up in smoke with the rest of the dot-com bubble. Even more of me was glad to see that the beast had been slain. But now what? What was I going to do? I only had one marketable skill.

Luckily, a friend and fellow programmer named Paul brought me into the fold of a cool start-up named Cambia Networks. Cambia Networks was kind enough to hire me, ostensibly as a programmer, but mostly as a senior engineer working on design and as an ex-foot soldier of the 90′s start-up wars.

My friend Paul had a pretty good idea that I was burned out on writing code the old way. I was willing to do it, but my heart wasn’t in it. One day Paul said “read this” and handed me a book. That book was Kent Beck’s Extreme Programming Explained. I’d never heard of Kent Beck or his publisher. In fact, I had never really read a book about coding in Java.

From the first page, the book was a hurricane of fresh air. It spoke directly to me and to my years of frustration. Kent and his team had worked on projects, like I had, that had no real customer and no real delivery date. These projects are known as Death Marches. They end in only misery and pain for all involved.

But Kent had done something about it. Through trial and error, he found a new way of developing software.

Extreme Programming (XP) (the original Agile methodology) puts the focus of software development where it belongs: delivering quality to the end user. Anything that does not contribute to that goal is a waste of time. Through a very small set of simple practices, this approach focuses on working with the customer to build for them what they need, when they need it. This was what we had done at Frontline all those years before the venture capitalists opened their checkbooks.

I read the book straight through that first night, and I think I read it twice more that week. I was hooked. Reading that book (along with a few others I’ll cover in future blogs), energized me. I had found my way back. I could see a meaningful and fulfilling way of writing software.

And I haven’t stopped since.

I hope that through this blog you will see how the Extreme Programming/Agile approach is at the core of what we do at RadBlue.

One Comment

  1. John D.
    Aug 11, 2010

    Great post! I will have to add Extreme Programming to my “to read” list. I’m sure the same principles can be applied to web development. Thanks!

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