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Extreme Programming: A Comprehensive Guide – Spiceworks News and Insights

Extreme programming optimizes software engineering practices that speed up the software development lifecycle.

Extreme programming (XP) is defined as a software engineering paradigm that uses an Agile-based software development framework to optimize the software development process by creating good quality programs while considering constantly shifting end-user demands. This article explains the fundamentals of extreme programming, its working, and the key values and principles that lay its foundation.
Extreme programming (XP) refers to a software engineering paradigm that uses an Agile-based software development framework to optimize the software development process by creating good quality programs while considering frequently shifting end-user demands. The process focuses on shorter development cycles to enhance overall software productivity and establishes crucial checkpoints while adapting to new customer requirements.
Today’s fast-paced environment uses strong software engineering principles. Traditional software development and project management practices have largely been linear and are no longer viable. This implies that IT professionals need to figure out alternate ways to manage constantly changing development tasks.
Considering these drawbacks of traditional systems, a team of 17 IT specialists proposed Agile project management strategies in 2001 based on incremental development techniques. The principles and values of such a philosophy are summarized in the Agile Manifesto, which emphasizes flexible, fast-paced, and collaborative software development practices. XP is one of the several Agile frameworks used by companies such as Ford Motor Company, Chrysler, and IBM to streamline their software development processes.
Software engineer Kent Beck first introduced extreme programming in the 1990s. The XP concept was outlined back then to enable developers to write high-quality software quickly and efficiently by adapting to the changing needs of end users. The methodology reveals engineering practices that allow developers to perform routine tasks beyond their capabilities. That is why the framework is titled ‘extreme’ programming.
Extreme programming seeks the involvement of customers in the development process. Such a practice allows companies to zero in on users’ essential features and minimizes risks by channeling resources in the desired direction. Under extreme programming, customers provide regular feedback on the system. XP also promotes collaborative work, allowing team members to work jointly on one activity or a software project to make it a success and boost productivity.
Extreme programming follows the incremental approach to building products by using continual testing and revision methods. It simplifies development tasks and speeds up the launch of a new product in the market. It makes the coding process efficient and effective, giving customers’ demands importance and value. In short, XP delivers software as and when needed rather than delivering everything simultaneously.
XP shares key Agile principles such as end-user involvement in development tasks, good communication between team members, and iterative development cycles.
All this happens when the entire team comes together to fine-tune their practices to situations at hand based on the constant feedback that enables them to visualize where they stand and what needs to be done to achieve the goal.
Extreme programming was the first Agile software development framework that could overhaul the conventional waterfall model. With XP, there was a significant change in the traditional requirements-gathering process. Also, testing was given the utmost importance when it came to the delivery of the software product. Moreover, XP brought the focus back onto core software engineering practices such as pair programming (the practice of pair programming), test-driven development (reiterative software development technique), refactoring (changing the design of the code without changing the functionality), continuous integration (integrate program code into a shared repository multiple times per day), automated testing, and so on.
See More: Scrum vs. DevOps: Understanding the Key Differences 
The extreme programming framework follows a workflow that involves five iterative development stages. Let’s understand each stage in detail.
Planning defines the first phase of the XP lifecycle. In this stage, customers meet the team of developers and outline their requirements through user stories that reveal the desired result. The team then uses these client requirements to create multiple iterations necessary to achieve the desired functionality on a part-by-part basis. In situations where user stories are challenging to estimate and develop iterations, ‘spikes’ are introduced, which signify the necessity for further research.
Designing is a subpart of the planning phase. It covers one of the principle XP values:’ simplicity’. This implies that a good quality design gives definitive logic and structure to system implementation and reduces unnecessary complexities and redundancies.
Coding is the most critical phase of all the lifecycle stages. Here, code is written by following coding standards that fall under specific XP practices such as pair programming, metaphor, regular integration, refactoring, code review with collective code ownership, and so on.
The testing phase comes after the coding stage. The development process routinely involves two tests: unit tests and acceptance tests. Unit tests refer to automated testing practices that confirm whether the developed features work as intended. Acceptance tests relate to customer testing, which determines whether the overall system is developed by keeping initial user requirements in mind. The testing phase validates the performance of codes and gives insights into bugs that may arise in specific scenarios.
The listening phase applies to every development stage. It implies maintaining constant communication and feedback with the clients to ensure that their expectations and requirements are always met. Besides listening to client requirements, developers can also input the technical aspects of refining the overall system by altering certain software features.
Frequent communication involves the active participation of customers and project managers, who are vital to defining the business logic and value expected from the software. Thus, listening typically lays the foundation of a new software design.
The development process encompasses the cooperation of several members with specific roles and responsibilities. The following people are actively involved in XP:
See More: What Is OOP (Object Oriented Programming)? Meaning, Concepts, and Benefits
Extreme programming uses its own set of principles, values, and practices that have a significant impact on the software development process. Values cover the underlying purpose of the development tasks, while principles entail the abstract behavior that guides participants through the software engineering process. Let’s take a look at the fundamental values and principles that direct XP practices:
XP is based on five fundamental values: communication, simplicity, feedback, courage, and respect. Let’s understand each one in detail:
Feedback falls under various types. For example, feedback from your peers while you code can be vital in pair programming. Similarly, the opinions of other team members, including end users, are also crucial.
Tests can also provide the necessary feedback about the system being developed. For example, the system design is probably complex if the tests are difficult to write. One can thereby simplify the design considering the test results. Sometimes, the finished code for a deployed product also acts as a good source of feedback. 
One must also bear in mind that too much feedback can derail development tasks. For example, suppose the team receives more feedback than it can handle. In that case, it can be detrimental to the entire development process as it can take the unit off track from accomplishing the overall objective. Hence, it is necessary to ensure that there are limited feedback sources and one can eliminate a few of them, so that excess feedback is avoided.
Principles guide individuals in specific ways that make the values more transparent and less ambiguous. They throw light onto values that are a ticket to success. For example, the value of courage may say it is better to tackle big problems in a program at once. However, the principle of ‘Baby Steps’ says that more significant changes can be risky, so handling problems in tiny steps is a feasible option. Here, the principle of baby steps illuminates the value of courage but makes it less complex and easier to understand. Let’s understand some of the vital XP principles in detail:
 See More: What Is Integrated Development Environment (IDE)? Meaning, Software, Types, and Importance
Extreme programming is a controlled software development process that is based on the principles of courage, respect, communication, and simplicity. XP is a popular Agile-based development methodology that is lightweight and relies on constant consumer feedback. As the XP framework has shorter development cycles, developers write and rewrite the code of XP projects, allowing clients to witness the system evolve and see subsequent growth in their business value.
Did this article help you understand the significance of extreme programming in software development? Comment below or let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. We’d love to hear from you!

AI Researcher
On June 22, Toolbox will become Spiceworks News & Insights


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