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Similarities Between Agile Development and Object-Oriented Programming

Agile Development and Object-Oriented Programming share many similarities as trends in the software community.

The first aspects of Object-Oriented Programming originated in the 1960's with Simula. Smalltalk carried it forward into the 70's and 80's. It finally crossed the chasm and hit the mainstream in the early 90's. C++ and Java helped greatly in driving its adoption.

Object-Oriented Programming and the principles it promotes make a big difference in creating large scale, maintainable code. It allows developers to design and write code in more productive ways than were possible with procedural languages.

Agile Development as a trend is about a decade behind Object-Oriented Programming. According to Wikipedia, adaptive software approaches were described in a paper as early as 1974. Scrum got started in the mid 80's. XP and several other Agile variants were used in the 90's. But it all sort of came together in 2001 when the Agile manifesto was written.

Agile Development attacks things at a higher level than object-oriented: our processes and approach. Its principles can greatly improve the productivity of a development team. As it has evolved, we've learned that it can also help in creating highly productive large scale teams (see this article for an example).

Both trends have/had their conferences where practitioners can get together to share / improve on usage. Object-Oriented Programming and Object Expo and OOPSLA (still going today). Agile Development and its own Agile Conference (in Toronto next month).

Both can easily be misused. Many people thought they were doing object-oriented development just because they used C++ (even though they continued to use it like C). In Agile, the same is also true. Just because you're doing a daily stand up, doesn't mean you're getting all you can out of it.

Another interesting trend is that many of the people who helped push / roll out Object-Oriented Programming are now doing the same for Agile Development. In the mid-90's, ObjectSpace was one company that specialized in Object-Oriented Development. Many of the people I know from those days are now into Agile (Craig Larman is one of the notable examples).

Perhaps one reason for this correlation is that as people have advanced in their careers, they've moved from doing the development themselves to managing / directing the teams that do it. If so, it could be interesting in another 10 years as that same crew is focusing on the executive level.