Agile Development

Agile SDLC model is a combination of iterative and incremental process models with focus on process adaptability and customer satisfaction by rapid delivery of working software product. Agile Methods break the product into small incremental builds. These builds are provided in iterations. Each iteration typically lasts from about one to three weeks. Every iteration involves cross functional teams working simultaneously on various areas like planning, requirements analysis, design, coding, unit testing, and acceptance testing.

Agile model believes that every project needs to be handled differently and the existing methods need to be tailored to best suit the project requirements. In agile the tasks are divided to time boxes (small time frames) to deliver specific features for a release. Iterative approach is taken and working software build is delivered after each iteration. Each build is incremental in terms of features; the final build holds all the features required by the customer. Agile thought process had started early in the software development and started becoming popular with time due to its flexibility and adaptability.

The most popular agile methods include Rational Unified Process (1994), Scrum (1995), Crystal Clear, Extreme Programming (1996), Adaptive Software Development, Feature Driven Development, and Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM) (1995). These are now collectively referred to as agile methodologies, after the Agile Manifesto was published in 2001.

Following are the Agile Manifesto principles :

1. In agile development, self-organization and motivation are important, as are interactions like co-location and pair programming.
2. Demo working software is considered the best means of communication with the customer to understand their requirement, instead of just depending on documentation.
3. As the requirements cannot be gathered completely in the beginning of the project due to various factors, continuous customer interaction is very important to get proper product requirements.
4. Agile development is focused on quick responses to change and continuous development.


Agile Vs Waterfall Models

Agile is based on the adaptive software development methods where as waterfall model is based on predictive approach.

Predictive teams in the waterfall models usually work with detailed planning and have a complete forecast of the exact tasks and features to be delivered in the next few months or during the product life cycle. Predictive methods entirely depend on the requirement analysis and planning done in the beginning of cycle. Any changes to be incorporated go through a strict change control management and prioritization.

Agile uses adaptive approach where there is no detailed planning and there is clarity on future tasks only in respect of what features need to be developed. There is feature driven development and the team adapts to the changing product requirements dynamically. The product is tested very frequently, through the release iterations, minimizing the risk of any major failures in future.

Customer interaction is the backbone of Agile methodology, and open communication with minimum documentation are the typical features of Agile development environment. The agile teams work in close collaboration with each other and are most often located in the same geographical location.