XP Explained

XP Explained
 Extreme Programming Explained
Extreme Programming Explained

This book is considered a classic for a reason. It’s inspired a lot of coders over the years. I think the first time I had heard about it was from Stephen Loftus Mercer talking about pair programming. I’ve heard a lot about XP over the years since then and thought I had a good handle on it, but thought at some point I should probably sit down and read the book.

Setting the Stage

The first page definitely got my attention. The first sentence is:

“Extreme Programming (XP) is about social change.”

page 1

That very much jives with my Fundamental Assumptions About Coding. Writing code is as much about the people involved as it is the technology involved. I’ve very much tried to become a student of the human and social side of coding and how that interacts with the technical side. I’ve often thought that in order to be successful you have to have both. The rest of the first page really got me very excited.

Good relationships lead to good business… You need both technique and good relationships to be successful. XP addresses both.

page 1

Values Based

XP is a collection of practices and principles all built around a set of values. The book starts by enumerating these values. They are:

  • Communication
  • Feedback
  • Simplicity
  • Courage
  • Respect


After elaborating on values the book moves on to talk about principles. These represent how we apply those values to writing code. It talks about how we think about things like Failure, Responsibility, Reflection, Quality, etc. This takes the broad values and applies them to how we think about what we are doing and how interact with each other as a team.


Lastly the practices are the actual techniques that we use. These are the things that XP is most well known for, like TDD, CI, pair programming, weekly cycles, etc. Kent divides them up into primary practices and then secondary practices. The primary practices are the most important and they form the basis for and enable the secondary practices.

Every SW Developer Should Read This Book

I think SW Developer should read this book. It will really change the way you think about software development and give you plenty of tools and techniques to improve your organization. On top of that it is a very quick and easy read, so there is no excuse.


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