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Bedtime User Stories: Cowboys and Fairytales

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David Longstreet , who identifies himself as "a software economist and international consultant," authored a paper last year claiming that Agile Software Development is a Fairy Tale and that it just tries to legitimise "cowboy" development. Geoff Slinker, author of the maverick software development model, used logical arguments to demonstrate the fallacies in David's thinking, and invited him to try again, taking a more rigorous approach.

From David Longstreet's 2007 article [pdf]:

Up to this point in time software development has been a Wild West endeavor.

... IT has been sloppy. There is nothing new with Agile, because it only tries to formalize sloppiness.

Geoff Slinker used logical arguments to demonstrate the fallacies in David's thinking. Like David, Geoff himself was initially skeptical of XP and even started writing a paper exposing XP flaws. However as he studied XP he began to see the value and started to try the practices on his own projects. Of David's claim that Agile legitimises sloppiness, Geoff countered that use of such a flawed argument is nothing more than an appeal to ridicule or spite.

David claimed that Agile doesn't value requirements and specifications; Geoff countered by looking at what, exactly, David wrote about User Stories in Agile:

Discussing pair programming Mr. [David] Longstreet states, "The idea is that one programmer writes code and the other programmer stands over his shoulder and watches for mistakes."

This is a complete falsehood. He goes on to say, "I am not sure what problem pair programming is trying to solve. Most of the issues with software development are related to incomplete requirements, not coding."

The first part of his statements on pair programming is a Straw Man. Also his statement that most issues are related to incomplete requirements is confusing cause and effect, and is an appeal to consequences of a belief.

David went on to say that:

Incomplete requirements are the biggest issue facing software development. I guess it is clear to the Agile folks that it is only logical to spend more time coding instead of cleaning up requirements or writing concise requirements in the first place.
Geoff pointed out that this is the fallacy of confusing cause and effect, and concluded by inviting David to write a paper challenging Agile methods based on logic and citing sources.


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