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Foreword

Foreword

Pete and I go way back. I can't remember exactly when we met, but I do remember being impressed with his experience and ability to communicate. When I heard that Pete was writing a book that takes a critical look at XP, I was glad—another set of eyes, particularly those of a thoughtful and self-professed outsider, could only help all of us as we try to improve our own development cultures.

Pete pulled it off. Some of XP's critics fall into shrill, reactionary jeremiads: “It'll never work. You have to design my way, or you'll die. Listen to me. I know how to yell.” This book is thorough, thoughtful, and conservative. Pete only makes claims he can back up with experience.

This is not to say I agree with his conclusions. I absolutely do not. XP started out with a fairly limited audience in mind—small teams working on business software. Adventurous pioneers, to use Ken Auer's picturesque metaphor, have carried XP far from its roots:

  • Atomic teams as large as 50 (customer side and development side together)

  • Teams of teams, often distributed worldwide

  • Embedded systems

  • Product development—in whichthe customer side has to represent a wide range of interests

Pete claims that the more he looks at XP, the smaller he sees its scope. I see just the opposite. I won't refute his argument point by point—this is a foreword and I'm supposed to be polite. I will suggest that as you read this, you keep in mind one mistake of early XP thinking for which I am entirely responsible—“the customer” doesn't mean one person. It means a team, as big as or bigger than the development team.

I trust you will make your own conclusions about the contents of the book. If you agree with Pete's conclusion, you will find here evidence and reasoning aplenty. If you disagree with Pete's conclusion, you will find tough questions that will force you to reexamine your own experience and conclusions. If you don't have an opinion about XP, you will find here a program for coming to your own conclusions. That's why I'm delighted to welcome this book to The XP Series. It's a “make-you-think” book, and XP is supposed to be a “make-you-think” development culture.

Kent Beck
Three Rivers Institute

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