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Adobe Photoshop C3 Team Succeeds with Agile

by Amr Elssamadisy on Mar 13, 2007 |
"Better quality, plenty of features, fewer nights and weekends: what's not to like? ®" wrote Mary Branscombe in an interview with CS3 co-architect Russell Williams. Adobe has been successful in adopting an iterative development process and leaving waterfall, after several unsuccessful attempts. The difference this time around: someone who had successfully adopted iterative processes elsewhere championed their new way of development through the hard times.

By working iteratively, fixing bugs often instead of leaving them to the end, and integrating early, Adobe was able to produce better quality code, release enough functionality, and improve the working environment for developers.

The details of all of their practices are not discussed in the article, but a focus on (1) iterative development and (2) per-engineer bug limits (if any engineer's bug count passes 20, they have to stop working on features and fix bugs instead) are described as the main practices that enabled success. The article also implied that adoption of a practice is more than 'just do it' but involves being patient and persevering through the hard times.

Finally, having a champion who has 'been there, done that' is one of the most effective methods to achieve successful adoption of development practices.

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re: Agile Practices? by Dave Rooney

"...per-engineer bug limits..." passing 20? How bad was the product before?

While this is a good example of a large company and significant product using some agile practices, it sounds like they've barely scratched the surface of what can be done with Agile. In fact, this sounds like one of those articles where a team tries a couple of practices and fails, and blames Agile for the failure. The difference in this case is that they consider their work a success.

I suppose if more teams start using iterative, incremental delivery and strive to keep their defects in check then it's a good thing for software development. However, I wouldn't go so far as to say those teams are using 'Agile'.

Dave Rooney
Mayford Technologies
www.mayford.ca

Re: re: Agile Practices? by Amr Elssamadisy

Dave,

Wouldn't you say that working iteratively, addressing bugs quickly, and integrating often are all practices worthy of the 'Agile' name? Does it have to be a full process to be deemed Agile? Is Scrum 'Agile' if no technical practices are used?

Amr

Re: re: Agile Practices? by Dave Rooney

Hi Amr,

Like I said, working the way the interview described is a Good Thing. However, I'm not sure I like the notion that people will believe that's all they have to do in order to be 'agile'. It's as much about the values and principles as it is the practices. If the Adobe CS3 team succeeded with a minimal set of practices, then I suspect that the team's values and principles aligned with the generally accepted values and principles of agile development. A team whose values and principles didn't align would likely fail under the same circumstances.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not an 'agile bigot', in fact I'm quite pragmatic in my approach to using agile practices. For example, if a teams wants to go full-tilt XP, then have at it. However, if they don't believe for whatever reason they can do that, I'm just as happy introducing the practices in smaller bite-sized pieces as the team becomes comfortable with them.

Dave Rooney
Mayford Technologies

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