Agile Insider reality bytes…


Should I Bother?

You've never done "agile" before and you work on a legacy system which is extremely large, complex, fragile and bug-ridden.  I'm guessing quite a few developers will be able to identify with this scenario.  Does this mean "agile" is a no-go?  On the contrary, applying "agile" techniques will probably make it easier to fix those bugs, faster and in the process improve the code just a little bit.

Here are my tips (prerequisites) before attempting "agile" within a legacy project:

  • Remove blockers
    • Legacy builds tend to be painfully long - setup an environment that allows you to build and test the changes you will make quickly.
  • Protect yourself
    • The changes you'll want to make are probably buried extremely deep within existing methods - use refactoring to pull out the code you want to change into a new method/class.
    • Write tests that capture the existing functionality of the code you just extracted.

If it is too difficult to perform any of the above steps then don't bother with "agile" just yet (although by all means apply pragmatism), choose your "agile" battles carefully and you'll live to fight another day.