Tangential comments about Software Development

Thursday, June 15, 2006

BookDiff on XP Explained

First EditionSecond Edition

I needed a copy of Kent Beck's Extreme Programming Explained, and was pleased to see a new edition. True to the XP ethos, it has been refactored. But I fear it may not pass a suite of tests, such as repeating all that was good in the first edition.

Kent shares the Second Edition (SE) credit with Cynthia Andres. I wonder whose idea was it to forbid sexual relationships between team members (SE p43), and are they ashamed of their heterosexual stereotyping? And I’m suspicious that Kent and Cynthia are closer than some other co-authors – on page 104 there is a reference to Beth Andres-Beck.

So we used to have four values – communication, simplicity, feedback and courage. SE adds Respect. The First Edition (FE) chapter on principles is 6 pages long, the SE chapter is 12 pages, and there’s almost no common ground between the two.

The shock is that the twelve practices have gone, at least as a tightly defined list. I miss them so much I put together to remind me what they are. Instead of the excellent diagram on FE page 70, we have spidery maps.

And so it goes on. Do you want to read about Frederick Taylor, the industrial engineer who used systematic methods to improve factory production? In FE, he is in the bibliography but dismissed with “as strategies for software development [his principles make] no business sense and no human sense”. In SE, he gets a whole chapter.

My disappointment is that Kent’s first edition was so practical and so readable, it was inspiring. The second edition is neither. It loses the simple, countable sets of values, principles and practices in a mess of new ideas. And the ideas are communicated in such a way that I find myself skipping to the end of the chapter.

Thankfully, there are secondhand copies of the first edition available. Embrace change? Not in this case.