The Art of Agile Development
Pragmatic Guide to Agile Software Development
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Final Release Date: October 2007
Pages: 440

The Art of Agile Development contains practical guidance for anyone considering or applying agile development for building valuable software. Plenty of books describe what agile development is or why it helps software projects succeed, but very few combine information for developers, managers, testers, and customers into a single package that they can apply directly.

This book provides no-nonsense advice on agile planning, development, delivery, and management taken from the authors' many years of experience with Extreme Programming (XP). You get a gestalt view of the agile development process, including comprehensive guidance for non-technical readers and hands-on technical practices for developers and testers.

The Art of Agile Development gives you clear answers to questions such as:

  • How can we adopt agile development?
  • Do we really need to pair program?
  • What metrics should we report?
  • What if I can't get my customer to participate?
  • How much documentation should we write?
  • When do we design and architect?
  • As a non-developer, how should I work with my agile team?
  • Where is my product roadmap?
  • How does QA fit in?
The book teaches you how to adopt XP practices, describes each practice in detail, then discusses principles that will allow you to modify XP and create your own agile method. In particular, this book tackles the difficult aspects of agile development: the need for cooperation and trust among team members.

Whether you're currently part of an agile team, working with an agile team, or interested in agile development, this book provides the practical tips you need to start practicing agile development. As your experience grows, the book will grow with you, providing exercises and information that will teach you first to understand the rules of agile development, break them, and ultimately abandon rules altogether as you master the art of agile development.

"Jim Shore and Shane Warden expertly explain the practices and benefits of Extreme Programming. They offer advice from their real-world experiences in leading teams. They answer questions about the practices and show contraindications - ways that a practice may be mis-applied. They offer alternatives you can try if there are impediments to applying a practice, such as the lack of an on-site customer.

--Ken Pugh, Author of Jolt Award Winner, Prefactoring

"I will leave a copy of this book with every team I visit."

--Brian Marick, Exampler Consulting
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oreillyThe Art of Agile Development

(based on 17 reviews)

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(1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)


Very Good

By Mugunth Kumar

from Singapore

About Me Developer

Verified Reviewer


  • Accurate
  • Helpful examples
  • Well-written


    Best Uses

    • Expert
    • Intermediate

    Comments about oreilly The Art of Agile Development:

    This is the best book for anyone who is serious about Agile.
    It targets novices first and gets progressively more interesting. If your company has to go agile, don't look anywhere else. This is the best.

    (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)


    Good addition to the library

    By kim

    from Undisclosed

    Comments about oreilly The Art of Agile Development:

    Having not been exposed to Agile, I found "The Art of Agile Development" a very good read. Shore and Warden described Agile practices in a way that was easy to read and more entertaining than I expected (compared to most of the technical books that I read). I believe they presented the practices very well. They also had answers and responses to my "but what about.." thoughts in the Questions and Contraindications section for each practice. I also appreciate the extensive list of References for further knowledge and reading.

    (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)


    An excellent book for Agile art

    By Read Sense

    from Undisclosed

    Comments about oreilly The Art of Agile Development:

    As a new comer learning what Agile Development is about, I found this book fabulous and easy to read. Leading as if the reader were a new hirer to a development group practicing Agile, it draws how the group's daily life might be in Part I. Then, the practices are addressed in details in Part II. Part III summarizes Agile values and principles into five themes explained with in practice advises and beyond practices stories from experience. The book is organized well with in depth discussion and lots of references on subjects such as Iteration, Use Story, Test Driven Development, Pair Programming, Technical Debt and etc. A thoughtfully written book that reveals and builds step by step the values of Agility with practicability shared.

    As a software developer, the explanation of "software inventory" really shakes me awake. It appears that this book is written from a view of a product manager who knows a lot about the roles each player contributes to a successful product development. "Do this," said in Part I. "Here is what we are trying to achieve and why," said in Part II. And, "These are the values of Agile and Part I and Part II are not hard wired rules", emphasized in Part III which is written in a way that it could be used to argue for the support from the top management.


    Great Reference for Agile Teams

    By Mark Ridlehuber

    from Undisclosed

    Comments about oreilly The Art of Agile Development:

    I recently read The Art of Agile Development as part of an Agile book discussion group. I would recommend it to anyone active in Agile software development or anyone simply thinking about adopting XP with Scrum.

    What were the biggest positive surprises found in reading the book?

    Team member role ratios - The authors suggest as a rule of thumb to start with 2 on-site customers (including the product manager) for every 3 programers. He makes a very good point that if your programmers are your constraint, then it is very important to not bottle neck their efforts with wait time on "how should the software work" questions. There are also considerations of "waste" introduced by having to collect this information up front in documentation rather than relying on a back and forth discussion as needed.

    Risk Management - The authors have pulled together the analysis of project release data from various sources and provide some ways to intellegently update initial release plan estimates to arrive at a risk adjusted release date. Most Agile references I am familiar with resist making this type of commitment and instead focus on changing the company culture to not require the commitment until you have enough data on the team velocity. While I believe the latter is MUCH more desireable, the authors at least recognize that this is not possible in some corporate cultures.

    From the Agile newbie to the seasoned consultant, The Art of Agile Development offers plenty of fresh examples along with the underlying principles to help the reader master the art of successful software development.


    Cookbook on Agile

    By George Romaniuk

    from Undisclosed

    Comments about oreilly The Art of Agile Development:

    My encounter with agile took place in 2004 when my company wanted to formalize the entire product development process. We took this opportunity to learn more about agile and apply it our software development.

    I read few short articles and a book about agile but there was not enough practical information to convince us that we will be safe embracing agile methodology.

    I learned about this book quite recently from practitioners of agile, read the book and also participated in a very interesting discussion club.

    The title of this book is in my opinion little misleading _ I was expecting to read about some esoteric topics related to agile software development but to my great surprise I found almost a "Manual" or a "Handbook" of agile software development.

    The art is being taught in a very well defined environment, little too idealized in my opinion but with clear boundaries and good instructions what to do in case your situation is outside of this environment. I read the book from page one in natural page order and noticed that the book was getting more interesting as I was progressing.

    There is a great body of down to earth instructions for beginners, not only related to pure software development but also relevant to setting up the team in your company's environment.

    The book also offers good discussion of product requirements, the role and approach to testing and to some extent - making decisions regarding software architecture.

    The book has a phenomenal bibliography and inspired many thoughts about the nature of software development and similarities between software development and industrial mass production environment

    I am sure that the book is not going to end the writing career of the authors and a follow-up will be available soon, discussing issues like rewards and compensation in companies practicing agile methodology.


    Easy read, VERY practical, great how-to book

    By Cindy Margules

    from Undisclosed

    Comments about oreilly The Art of Agile Development:

    As a complete novice to Agile, this was my first book. Although there were a few areas that I had to reread for comprehension - it is written in such a way as to provide a complete foundation of understanding, both for the novice and the expert.

    The book utilizes not only the practical "how to" but also deals with the different behaviors displayed and how to manage those - which is typically the `sticky point' in any change management effort.

    As a 15-year project management veteran, the book was artfully crafted as it employs real world examples, states the relationships between the various principles of XP - and why they are all important, and submits strong cases of why partial implementations fail, and even lists additional alternatives to the typical implementation. I found the book doesn't sell "XP", but does make a solid case for the value systems that XP supports.

    It is written in a very easy to read format with etudes, approach, and questions, and has constant cross-references within the book and to outside sources which is extraordinarily helpful. There is a bit of reiteration which can be irritating to some, but also can be reinforcing as it is done in various styles. Overall, a must have for the Agile developer.


    A powerful book.

    By P Eastwood

    from Undisclosed

    Comments about oreilly The Art of Agile Development:

    The Art of Agile Development is a very powerful book. To people like myself who are approaching Agile for the first time it is a compelling and energizing read, completely capturing the spirit of Agile as well as carefully explaining the mechanisms of XP. It is a book that can be used as a reference for experienced practitioners of XP, but I think even those who have read Beck and others will want to read it from cover to cover.

    There are a lot of "good sense" aspects to many of the practices of XP and progressing through the first chapters, the reader quickly understands the simplicity and workings of each one of them. But keep reading! The book is full of enlightening moments as the author focuses in on the ties that bind the practices together, explaining the practices' workings and their sustaining relationships using real world examples.

    I highly recommend this book to anyone involved in building technical teams inside or outside of software development.


    Recommended Reading

    By David Wight

    from Undisclosed

    Comments about oreilly The Art of Agile Development:

    The Art of Agile Development is one of a handful of books that should be read by any serious practitioner of agile software development. It complements my other favorite books, with an emphasis on practical implementation of agile practices and the issues and complications that inevitably arise. Although the book focuses on practices derived from XP (eXtreme Programming), I found it to be relevant and applicable to agile development in general, and recommend it to other ScrumMasters and agile proponents. It provides clear explanations, rationales and practical examples of concepts I've studied and practiced for years, but still struggle to master.

    The authors define the scope and organization of the book in the Preface and then deliver exactly what they promise in a clear and concise way. Part 1 includes a brief but effective summary of agile principles and of XP concepts and practices. I especially liked their opening section describing how an agile approach aligns with success.

    After pointing out that agile is no silver bullet and that implementation can be a challenge, the authors discuss the specifics of introducing XP into an organization and present a concrete implementation as a starting point. In Part 2, they present a set of 37 practices that, taken together, form a practical approach for getting started. Their descriptions include practical advice, specific suggestions and potential pitfalls.

    Part 3 is intended to provide guidance to experienced agile practitioners as they develop and hone agile practices to fit their specific circumstances. There are really no new ideas presented, but it is a succinct and well organized presentation of values, principals and practices that are critical to successful implementation of any agile methodology. The book concludes with an excellent bibliography.


    The Agile Fabric, Clearly Explained

    By Scott Killen

    from Undisclosed

    Comments about oreilly The Art of Agile Development:

    "The Art of Agile Development" is more than good book; it is also an important book. It weaves many agile concepts in to a thoughtful fabric and extends the body of knowledge in practical ways.

    Structurally, the book is divided into three parts; an introductory section, a practices section and a section on mastery. Each part is wholly contained and may be read independently of the others. Although XP is the centerpiece of discussion, clearly Scrum and Lean also strongly influenced content.

    There is so much to like about this book that a short review cannot do justice. But I do want to highlight sections of particular value.

    To understand the maturity of your agile team, skip the Nokia test and head for the section entitled "Assess Your Agility". Though the test does lean towards measuring XP maturity, each question is carefully crafted to be a point of introspection for thoughtful readers.

    The sections on risk and slack are the clearest, most compelling, descriptions I've ever read of the how and why of risk planning and mitigation in an agile project. If you've had difficulty with release planning because of inconsistent velocities, then Shore and Warden open their toolbox for you.

    The case for pair programming, perhaps the most controversial of all XP practices, is built brick by brick into a foundational practice. I've not seen such an airtight argument before.

    The section on refactoring, including a step-by-step walkthrough, opened my eyes. I thought I understood refactoring until I read this masterful presentation.

    Many people confuse the terms "value" and "principle"; incorrectly using them interchangeably. In the mastery section, the authors distinguish the two, and explain how fundamental values lead to the adoption of guiding principles and then to the implementation of tangible practices.

    Shore and Warden make a valuable contribution to agile literature with this book. I'm making a list of people I work with that need to read it.

    (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)



    By Krzysztof Satola

    from Undisclosed

    Comments about oreilly The Art of Agile Development:

    The Art of Agile Development written by James Shore and Shane Warden is about managing a successful eXtreme Programming (XP) team. It reveals many possible ways of leading an agile team through a software project. The book is full of examples, explanations, tips and good practices.

    Great deal of issues covered in this book would make it hard to read but the authors made a tremendous work organizing the book's contents. There are cross-links between chapters and topics which help to find solutions to problems. Each topic has uniform structure consisting of subtopics, questions, results, contraindications, alternatives and further reading which helps a lot in finding answers and making decisions during an agile project. I was astonished how much information can be packed on only 400 pages. That is amazing.

    Parts I and II of this book contain author's approach to XP. Part I helps to get started with eXtreme Programming and Part II provides detailed guidance for each of XP's practices. Part III is full of ideas that can help to understand XP and agile development more deeply.

    I have read this book because I had heard that it is worth reading. I work as a software architect and project manager and I found this book very valuable. It is especially useful for anyone who is, will be or wants to be part of an agile team. This also includes programmers, domain experts, testers, project and product managers, designers and business analysts. It may also be handy for aware customers. If you have anything in common with agile development you should read this book.

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