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Extreme Programming Refactored: The Case Against XP by Matt Stephens, Doug Rosenberg

Ilja Preuss
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Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 14112
Originally posted by Alfred Neumann:
Not necessarily xP-specific, that song is for anyone who has been forced to repeatedly peer through volumes of source code written by the clueless.

Yeah, I am currently working on such code, too. Seeing the quality of the code, I doubt wether documents produced by the same developers would have been of more help, though. I just wish they would have been more competent.
And titling the section "Songs of the Extremos" seems to suggest that the problem is meant to be XP specific, doesn't it?
The Imagine send up skewers xP perfectly.

Sorry, this sentence doesn't parse for me. Could you please try to reformulate? Thanks.
Admit it. Great satire isn't kind or fair, just side-splittingly funny.

Admitted. And that's actually the reason why it doesn't mix well with constructive criticism. Constructive criticism has to be fair.
Big Projects Got No Reason to Live??? Too true! I'm on one now....

I think I don't get your point here...


The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny - it is the light that guides your way. - Heraclitus
Ilja Preuss
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Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 14112
Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
And why do you think the book is supposed to be constructive criticism?

Let's take a looo at the front cover:

-Cuts through the hype and tells "the other side of the story" about Extreme Programming
-Provides a thorough and systematic analysis of XP practices and separates the "agile" from the "fragile"
-Proposes better ways of achieving XP's agile goals, applicable to a much wider range of projects

You will have to look at the back cover to learn that it also contains satirical content.
And from the books homepage:

Who should read this book?
- If you're a manager or a customer who is being sold the idea of using XP in your next project, this book provides a useful contrary viewpoint
- Conversely, if you're a programmer who is introducing XP into an organization, this book should help because it outlines a lot of the dangers that tend to get brushed over in other XP books, but which can be potential project-killers
- If you're tailoring an agile process for your latest project (whether XP or not), this book provides some valuable advice
- And if you just want to know why XP is so controversial, find out by reading this equally controversial book!

The book description says, Extreme Programming Refactored: The Case Against XP (featuring Songs of the Extremos) takes a satirical look at the increasingly hyped Extreme Programming methodology. It explores some quite astonishing Extremo quotes that have typified the XP approach� quotes such as, �XPers are not afraid of oral documentation,� �Schedule is the customer�s problem,� �Dependencies between requirements are more a matter of fear than reality� and �Concentration is the Enemy.�"

Interesting - where is this from?
The book is obviously not supposed to be taken overly seriously but as an XPer you can't seem to take it any other way.

I think you are wrong about the intent of the book. Anyway, I think I actually mentioned it in the review: if all you want is a book making fun of XP, hell, go for it! Just don't expect to learn much about what XP really is.
BTW, do you remember the Dilbert about Pair Programming? I rolled on the floor laughing when I saw it...
I would also remind you that you were the one that started defending Bob Martin after my review.

As if Bob Martin needed to be defended... :roll:
What I think I did was agreeing with parts of your review and disagreeing with some others. And I actually suggested to post your review. I respect your opinion, wether I agree or not.
I was not upset about the book.

Interestingly, your review could have been read that way, though. Wait, perhaps I wasn't upset about this one, neither? Nah, couldn't possibly be...
I am not defending XP Refactored since I have not read it. I am merely stating the obvious fact that your review is biased because of your strong views about XP; views that should have been mentioned in the review.

If it's so obvious, why the need to mention it?

By the way, thanks for the $20. I had a side bet with a friend that if you ever reviewed the book you would give it one star.

It's your achievement to guess correctly. All I did was giving the most honest review I could.
Stan James
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Joined: Jan 29, 2003
Posts: 8791
I read a paper a while ago on Iconix that later grew into this book. Based on that, I wouldn't waste the calories lifting the book or the brain cells reading it.


A good question is never answered. It is not a bolt to be tightened into place but a seed to be planted and to bear more seed toward the hope of greening the landscape of the idea. John Ciardi
Ilja Preuss
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Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 14112
Stan, can you provide us some context, please? What did you think about the paper? What is your connection to XP?
Thank you very much!
Robert Martin
Author
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Joined: Jul 02, 2003
Posts: 76
Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
One 1-star review from Ron Jeffries (hardly a surprise). Two 2-star reviews. 10 5-star reviews.

Bimodal distributions in book reviews imply religion as opposed to reason.


---<br />Uncle Bob.
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
Originally posted by Robert Martin:
Bimodal distributions in book reviews imply religion as opposed to reason.

Which is, of course, the point of my original comment in this thread. Thanks for agreeing with me!


Associate Instructor - Hofstra University
Amazon Top 750 reviewer - Blog - Unresolved References - Book Review Blog
Jason Menard
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Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
Slashdot Review
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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Posts: 13974
My two favorite comments in the Slashdot discussion:
1) I think Extreme Programming XP made some significant improvements over Extreme Programming 2002, but it will be better when the .NET framework comes in the box in Extreme Programming 2003.
2) The ONE original idea in XP is simple... You don't need requirements before you start coding. For godsake that is a friggin DILBERT cartoon.
Ilja Preuss
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Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 14112
Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
1) I think Extreme Programming XP made some significant improvements over Extreme Programming 2002, but it will be better when the .NET framework comes in the box in Extreme Programming 2003.

I think I don't get the message of this one....

2) The ONE original idea in XP is simple... You don't need requirements before you start coding.

That's, of course, totally wrong. The thirst thing an XP team does is to gather all the major known requirements, organize them in User Stories, and estimate them to make an initial release plan.
Then, at the start of each iteration, the Customer has to specify which User Stories he wants to have developed. No coding starts until the developers understand what the Customer expects the system to be able to do next.
Ernest Friedman-Hill
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  34

You guys are still having this argument?


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Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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Originally posted by Ernest Friedman-Hill:
You guys are still having this argument?

Ilja has completely lost his sense of humor. It's pretty sad to see that he is so enraptured by his worship at the altar of XP that he can't even joke about it. I thought the two quotes I picked were pretty funny.
But this does go to prove what Uncle Bob and I both said. Reviews of this book have nothing to do with the book itself and everything to do with religion. Too bad.
Lasse Koskela
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Joined: Jan 23, 2002
Posts: 11962
    
    5
* blows whistle *
Let's not discuss the book review anymore, ok?
Here's a suggestion, though (and I'm afraid writing this will make my previous request disappear into the bit space...):
- If you think XP is bullshit, don't buy the book. Let's face it, whatever the book says about how you should "fix" XP, you won't buy those "fixed" practices either. If you really want to buy the book, be truthful and recognize that you're buying it for the fun of it. Just like the odd Dilbert comic you've once bought from an airport lounge.
- If you think XP has punch, buy the book. If you're lucky, you'll pick up some ideas for tuning your particular instance of XP. The worst case scenario is that you learn a bit more about what kind of change resistance you're going to face when introducing XP to an organization full of "Rosenbergs."
Ok? Please? Pretty please with sugar on top?


Author of Test Driven (2007) and Effective Unit Testing (2013) [Blog] [HowToAskQuestionsOnJavaRanch]
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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"The Stupid Principle Principle": If, in order to argue against a concept, you are reduced to inventing stupid priciples, you probably don't understand the concept that you are arguing against. -- Uncle Tom

Jim Yingst
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Posts: 18671
[Ilja]: I think I don't get the message of this one....
It's a joke, I say, a joke, son. Playing off the fact that XP can refer to either eXtreme Programming, or Windows XP, depending on context. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense, IMO, but it's amusing for the initial juxtapostion of contexts.


"I'm not back." - Bill Harding, Twister
Ilja Preuss
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Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 14112
Originally posted by Jim Yingst:
It's a joke, I say, a joke, son.

Yes, I already suspected that. I somehow got the feeling that it was something about the evolution of XP, though, and didn't grasp it...

Playing off the fact that XP can refer to either eXtreme Programming, or Windows XP, depending on context. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense, IMO, but it's amusing for the initial juxtapostion of contexts.

Mhh, I gues it's less amusing to someone who regularly has to explain to new posters at the XPforum Yahoo group that it isn't about the OS. :roll:
BTW, a friend of mine got a little bit mad at Microsoft, because he had to burn his XP t-shirt - he couldn't any longer wear it at conferences...
Ernest Friedman-Hill
author and iconoclast
Marshal

Joined: Jul 08, 2003
Posts: 24187
    
  34

There's a new review of this book at Slashdot today. Thought y'all might like to start arguin' about it agin.
Junilu Lacar
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Joined: Feb 26, 2001
Posts: 4474
    
    6

Just had a look at the article. A good measure of skepticism is needed when playing the devil's advocate but IMO the article is more cynical than skeptical. And dishonest, too. Take for example the section where the author says that "XP doesn't even try to deliver on time". That couldn't be any further from the truth. The author also notes that the book supplies references so readers can verify for themselves that quotes have not been taken out of context. Yet it seems to me the quotes in the article have been given a negative spin that is entirely different from the actual point of the quote (e.g. the "lost user story card" does not mean that XP allows you to "trick" your customer into letting you drop features--the point was that sometimes what the user thinks is important now may turn out to be not as important to them in the future).
If the book is anything like the article, then I don't think its title fits its content. Refactoring's intent is to find smells and make changes for the better. Judging from the article, it seems the book mainly tries to find smells with the sole intent of arguing against using XP at all rather than finding ways to improve it. Any process/methodology/practice will have its faults and weaknesses. XP is not perfect and it is not for everyone nor for every situation. I'm sure it can and has worked though, just as highly formal and ceremony-heavy processes have worked in some places but also failed in many others.
To benefit from anything, we need to understand the forces involved and find ways to balance, control, and direct those forces for our own uses. So if you want to know what can go wrong in an XP project and see how some common misconceptions can prevent you from profitting from the XP practices, then there is probably something in the book for you. I'm sure that the authors benefitted from writing the book the way they did, and I'm fine with that too. But it looks like they only gave us half the story: the negative. How you balance, control, and direct it to your own benefit, I guess, is up to you.
[ March 26, 2004: Message edited by: Junilu Lacar ]

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Ilja Preuss
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Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 14112
Originally posted by Junilu Lacar:
(e.g. the "lost user story card" does not mean that XP allows you to "trick" your customer into letting you drop features--the point was that sometimes what the user thinks is important now may turn out to be not as important to them in the future).

Actually, all the discussions I remember where something like that was stated were about "what happens if you loose a card - wouldn't it be better to archive them electronically, at least?"
The quoted answer is that typically important features are easily remembered (because the system is put into use early and regularly, besides other reasons) - and who cares that much about unimportant ones?
"Open and honest communication" is one of the four main values of XP - to suggest that it promotes silently dropping a feature the customer cares about is strange and way off-base. (For the record, I am not sure wether the *book* really suggest this - it might also be the interpretation of the SD-reviewer. It *would* fit may overall impresion of the tone of the book , though.)
Judging from the article, it seems the book mainly tries to find smells with the sole intent of arguing against using XP at all rather than finding ways to improve it.

That impression is wrong - the book doesn't only criticize XP, it does also mention benefits of XP and provides alternatives for those things it criticizes.
To benefit from anything, we need to understand the forces involved and find ways to balance, control, and direct those forces for our own uses.

That is where I find the book lacks. The "understanding" of the forces involved in an *XP* project seem to be mainly based on experience with non-XP projects and half-hearted implementations of XP.
As I think about it, the problam probably is less with the application of the practices, but with the values (the culture). If you are used to an environment of competition and control, to win-lose situations, the practices of XP certainly *are* rediculous.
Jeff Langr
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Joined: May 14, 2003
Posts: 762
I posted earlier on this topic, briefly mentioning a 2-star review of XP Refactored that I submitted to Amazon. The review appeared as a feature review for at least a month or more, garnering a total of something like 64 votes, 32 helpful (vote stuffing, no doubt). It was a longer review, close to 1000 words, that pointed out the potential the book had but ruined it with negativity and inaccuracies.
In any case, Amazon deleted the review after three months. According to Amazon, someone had complained. The cardinal sin? Out of a 1000-word review, I made this statement: "By the way, this book is nowhere near serious, as another well-known reviewer states below." You're not allowed to refer to other reviews (although at least one other existing review of the book does so).
The review now appears at my web site (you can reach it by clicking on the icon above this post). It is linked to from SoftwareReality.com, the site of one of the authors. The amusing blurb at the Software Reality site indicates that my review is a paranoid angry rant. I'll let you decide, but I think the review comes across only as curmudgeonly. And if my review is a paranoid angry rant, then the entire of XP Refactored is a $40 shrill piece of junk that only serves to air dirty laundry and make some people feel better.
I have no problem with Amazon deleting the review. I do find it interesting that someone sought to remove my review, given that the book is (sort of--see my review) a one-sided, mean-spirited, semi-informed attack. A prime example of people being able to dish it out but not take it.
-Jeff-


Books: Agile Java, Modern C++ Programming with TDD, Essential Java Style, Agile in a Flash. Contributor, Clean Code.
 
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