A conversation with Jeff Nielsen about agile software development

In today's half-hour podcast I interview Jeff Nielsen, chief scientist with Digital Focus, a company that specializes in doing -- and teaching -- agile software development. Jeff called me from XP2005, the international conference on extreme programming, and we talked about how Digital Focus adapts agile methods for use with such clients as Fannie Mae and the Federal Home Loan Bank.

I was particularly interested to hear about Jeff's use of FIT, Ward Cunningham's Framework for Integrated Test. This technique first appeared on my radar in an outtake from our 2003 story on test-driven development. A more recent development is Fitnesse, a Wiki that supports the use of FIT. At the end of our interview, Jeff says:

I'm putting my eggs in the FIT/Fitnesse basket. I think this idea of a human-readable table-based test -- we've only begun to explore the power of how that can change the way business people interact with our IT teams.

It pains me to say so but, according to Jeff, XML-oriented tools have so far failed to cut the mustard in this environment. Only in the fluid and mostly unstructured environment of the Wiki has it been possible to achieve the right kind of collaboration. Although Stephen O'Grady kindly credits me with prescience with respect to Wiki technology, this is not an outcome I would have predicted.

By the way, this comment on Wikipedia and the social construction of knowledge says that Jimbo Wales should share the Nobel Prize I awarded him with Ward Cunningham. Agreed.

Former URL: http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2005/06/21.html#a1254