Agile Principle 3 – Deliver Work Frequently

Posted on February 6, 2011 by


Steve McConnell (Borland, Independent, then Microsoft) and Philippe Kahn (Borland founder) are two notable software engineers from the late 1980’s to present day.

Philippe Kahn

The older generation knows him from Borland, kids today thank Philippe Kahn for photo sharing on phones!

They  introduced the concept of a daily build and smoke test in the late 80’s while at Borland.  Its ability to roll out cutting edge development tools (Turbo Pascal first, Paradox second) faster than Microsoft in the late 80’s to  early 1990’s raised some Redmond eyebrows.  Borland waged an unsuccessful battle with Microsoft in the mid 1990’s, due to its MS Office competition. (anyone still have WordPerfect or Quattro Pro in a storage box?).  Call Borland the pre-Netscape.

That ability was based in part on a concept, which Steve McConnell coined, the “daily build and smoke test”.  That concept is simply to produce usable code each and every workday, review, debug, fix, rinse and repeat.  It was a paradigm suited for the “new” microcomputer environment.  Radical thinking in a day and age when development and tested were silo’d by several months.

Two paragraphs and not one mention of “Agile”.  The reason was to provide some historical context.  By the time the Agile manifesto was written, this frequent, daily approach was well established in the software hotspots of the Silicon Valley, Seattle, Austin, Research Triangle N.C. and even Omaha Nebraska.  Agile embraced this and in the last ten years, SCRUM, with its 28 day cycle from customer idea to working code, has advanced that concept further by incorporating the customer.  Deliver work frequently and teams are empowered to adjust course and manage change!

Deliver working software frequently, from a
couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a
preference to the shorter timescale.

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