Agile software development takes an iterative, outcomes-focused approach to building applications, in contrast with the traditional method of rigorous advance planning and fixed linear stages. Agile development delivers faster time to value, higher software quality, and, as the name implies, greater flexibility and adaptability to change.
In Agile methodology, tasks are broken into small sections and delivered incrementally, with requirements and solutions evolving through teamwork within self-organizing groups. The ultimate goal is to deliver working software faster, with an eye to technical excellence, predictability, and responsiveness to change. Projects adapt quickly as requirements are modified, because users and other stakeholders are expected to frequently evaluate results and change their desires. This built-in adaptability minimizes risk and accelerates development — superfluous requirements can be dropped early in the cycle.
Agile processes and methods emphasize:
Scrum is the most common set of practices employed within the overall Agile framework. Used for managing complex software and production development, Scrum aims to keep process overhead lightweight to maximize the amount of time spent on productive work. Scrum practices are divided into three categories: Roles, Artifacts, and Time Boxes.
Scrum has been shown to boost productivity and reduce time to value, as compared with classic “Waterfall” development processes. Benefits include higher-quality deliverables, superior ability to cope with change, better and faster project estimates, and tighter control over scheduling.
First expressed in the Agile Manifesto published in 2001, these 12 principles embody the best practices of a group of leading figures in software development.
Software development takes time, costs money, and exists to meet customer needs. Sooner equals better: the goal of Agile is to generate high-value applications early and often.
The only thing permanent in business is change, so adjustments and modifications to application requirements should be expected and welcomed, even in late stages of development. The last thing users and customers need is software that’s outdated or irrelevant upon arrival.
It’s never too early to generate value, which is why agile focuses on a time-frame of a couple of weeks to a couple of months. Think smaller releases, more often.
Agile emphasizes overcoming traditional silos and barriers to smooth collaboration between the development and business sides of the house. This way, misunderstandings are resolved before they can find their way into code, and feedback comes quickly enough to avert problems before users ever see them.
Developers whose skills are empowered by the right training, environment, tools, and management support will naturally create successful projects.
The best and most productive interactions are 1-on-1. With modern tools like Zoom, Skype, and Hangouts, distributed teams can and should collaborate face-to-face over distances and time zones.
If there’s one Agile rule that stands above all the rest, it’s that progress is measured not by models, analysis, or flowcharts... but by a real, live, functioning product.
The essence here is continuity. Agile is about ongoing exertion, not one-time spurts. When successfully employed, its processes facilitate workflows that are consistent and sustainable over the long term.
Undeniably, Agile puts a premium on rapid development, but not at the expense of good design and technical quality. A mediocre product won’t fully meet user needs no matter how fast it gets delivered.
Agile defines this as “the art of maximizing the amount of work not done.” This means, among other things, eliminating outmoded procedures, favoring automation over manual processes, using macro libraries where available, and in general taking the most direct route to each given objective.
Good developers work best when they feel ownership in the work product. The key enabler rests with management. Higher-ups must trust the team to organize its efforts, consult with business stakeholders, and dive into coding — free from over-control or micro-management.
No individual or group makes perfect decisions all the time: there’s always room for improvement. This makes it imperative for Agile teams to periodically assess, optimize, and fine-tune their efforts.
As explained above, Agile demonstrably delivers better-quality software much more quickly than the “Waterfall” methodology of the past. Agile is expressly designed to provide increased flexibility and adaptability, greater software alignment with business objectives, and more capable applications in much less time.
MongoDB, the most popular non-relational (or NoSQL) database, is designed to support modern Agile development.
MongoDB’s dynamic schema easily adapts and evolves along with your application. Its JSON-like documents work especially well with modern object-oriented programming. You can store data in the database immediately, alter it whenever necessary, and create schema validation rules at any point without database downtime — giving you the flexibility to define additional use cases as you go.
MongoDB is optimized for cloud and distributed computing using affordable commodity servers. So you can develop robust Big Data applications at a lower cost than with a relational database.
To an even greater extent than other non-relational databases, MongoDB lets you query your data in any way you’d like, with little or no remodeling. Flexible indexing, a rich query language, and an aggregation pipeline give you uncommon data querying flexibility. One especially beneficial MongoDB feature: an object in your code typically maps to a single document in the database without having to be broken down.
Scaling is easier too. MongoDB readily scales horizontally so you can add more servers whenever needed. A background process automatically balances the load among them. And as mentioned earlier, you can use money-saving commodity hardware.
Waterfall is a strict, step-wise design process in which progress is seen as flowing steadily downwards, like a waterfall. Waterfall phases must be followed in precise sequence: the development team doesn’t progress to the next step until and unless the previous one is successfully completed. Also known as the Linear Sequential Life Cycle Model, Waterfall is the easiest approach to manage and tends to work well for smaller projects whose requirements are easily understood in advance.
Unlike Waterfall, Agile development and testing activities happen currently, allowing for greater communication and teamwork among customers, developers, managers, and testers.
Agile focuses squarely on the needs of customers and involves them continuously at every stage. As compared with Waterfall, Agile is expressly designed to reduce risk, accommodate in-flight change, shorten development time, and ensure high-quality results.
Roles are key concepts in the Scrum approach to Agile development. The three roles defined in Scrum are the ScrumMaster, the Product Owner, and the Team (composed of team members). The individuals who fulfill these roles work closely together on a daily basis to ensure that information flows smoothly and issues are quickly resolved.
Kanban is a popular framework used to implement Agile software development. It requires real-time communication about capacity, and complete transparency of work. Production items are represented visually on a project management tool called a Kanban board which gives team members visibility into the state of every piece of work at any time. Kanban originated in the 1940s and was developed and refined by engineer and businessman Taiichi Ohno. The methodology was incorporated into Toyota’s production system to improve and sustain a high level of output.
Both Scrum and Kanban break large projects down into manageable chunks. While the two approaches have similarities and differences, Kanban can be applied to visualize processes and improve efficiency, regardless of the methodology used to actually execute the work.