The Rise and Fall of Software Recipes

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Thou Will Not Agile

“How can one write anything about software engineering nowadays without mentioning the Agile movement which has seemingly obliterated all other methodological efforts? It is more of a sect than just a movement of similarly minded practitioners. It is followed by devotees who pray to a Manifesto, with four key values and twelve essential principles.

[….] My calling of the Agile movement a cult is not just a cheap shot based on easy punchlines. It is based on observable facts, such as the insistence on infantilizing rules such as holding daily meetings standing up and boy-scout like terminology.

[….] It continues with an obscure elicitation process (Scrum master certification?) and colorful quirks, inherited from an infatuation with wikis (WhatAnOddWayOfWritingThings) as a universal cure for all things related to documentation or written trails in general.

The Agile movement also has this odd propensity of established and not so established religions to be divided in sub-cults, variations and spin-offs. It is not always easy to grasp the subtle differences between sub-movements, who complements, contradicts, specializes or elaborates on whom. As a final straw, people compromise, and do Agile RUP or even Agile waterfall, whatever that is. It's a jungle out there.

[….] More importantly, I am concerned when I see Agile methodologies applied beyond fairly straightforward software development projects. It could have disastrous consequences for anything ambitious or critical, any project that requires out of the box thinking, or innovative technology of any form, any project where focusing on weekly activities and losing track of the bigger picture can make one spin out of control while keeping the appearance of productive work.»


The B-Book: Assigning Programs to Meanings, Jean-Raymond Abrial, Cambridge University Press, 2005, ISBN-13: 978-0521021753;

Compilers: Principles, Techniques and Tools (a.k.a. The Dragon Book), Alfred V. Aho, Monica S. Liam, Ravi Sethi, Jeffrey D. Ullman, Gradiance 2006, ISBN-13: 978-0321493026;

Programming pearls: a literate program, Jon Bentley, Donald Knuth, Doug McIlroy, Communications of the ACM 29, 6, pp471-483, June 1986;

Revisiting Software Engineering Economics, Barry Boehm, IEEE EQUITY Conference, Keynote address, March 19, 2007;

A Basic Hospital To-Do List Saves Lives, Jane E. Brody, The New York Times, January 22nd 2008;

Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams (3rd Edition), Tom DeMarco, Tim Lister, Addison-Wesley Professional, 2013, ISBN-13: 978-0321934116;

Noddy goes to Toyland, Enid Blyton, Sampson Low, 1949

* Darius Blasband has a master’s degree and a PhD from the Université Libre de Bruxelles. His focus is legacy modernization, articulated around compilers for legacy languages. Darius is the founder and CEO of Raincode (, main designer and implementer of its core technology, an acclaimed speaker in academic and industrial circles.