Is ‘Agile’ really agile?

The Agile software development methodology is based on the “Manifesto for Agile Software Development,” which outlines the values and goals of the platform. For many software development teams, an Agile methodology has replaced the dated Waterfall method. I think that the diagram below does an excellent job of highlighting the key differences between the two methodologies.

(Image source: https://www.seguetech.com/waterfall-vs-agile-methodology/)

The Agile method allows developers more flexibility and involvement in some of the stages of the development that were previously dominated by managers and other higher-ups with no connection to the code itself. In cases where getting a working prototype of a project deployed quickly is of primary importance, the Agile method is the clear choice. In Agile development, responding to changes in the program specification can be done relatively simply through regular meetings and discussions of progress.

The more traditional Waterfall methodology follows a linear sequencing, where each step must be completed in order before the next step is begun. This means that there is often a longer period of development before any product is ready to be deployed. When the product is deployed, however, it will often be more polished and complete. The Waterfall methodology does not respond well to changes in the specification, as this will often require backing up in the process and then reworking each of the steps.

Now, with a general idea of the two methodologies, I could begin to understand where user ayasin is coming from in his rather intense post titled, “Agile Is The New Waterfall.” The post on Medium.com generated quite the buzz of controversy, and even attracted the attention of well-know computer science figures including Uncle Bob. In his post, ayasin argues that Agile has become the tiresome, outdated successor of Waterfall. While he does not offer any solutions, he sure presents a lot of problems with Agile. Ayasin describes the Agile development process as follows, “You just throw stuff together as quickly as possible because you know it’s mostly trash anyway.” This hardly seems like a way to produce quality software. What’s more, ayasin argues, is that more of the responsibility (and potentially blame) is placed on the developers themselves, as they are given the illusion of involvement in the process without any real control of the outcome.

Before finding ayasin’s post on Medium.com, I had a vague idea of the Waterfall and Agile methodologies. After a bit of research of the two strategies, the post seems to make some excellent points. While I agree with some of them, I’m not sure if ayasin is being a bit harsh on Agile. It would seem that when properly implemented and followed, the Agile methodology has significant advantages over the traditional Waterfall method. Reading about the two methods has given me insight into some of the challenges I can expect to face when working on a project in the future. I feel nervous but prepared for these potential challenges and look forward to someday working on projects like the ones described in my research.

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