Essay on Extreme Programming: Overview, Benefits, Limitations and Project Archetypes

Published: 2022/01/10
Number of words: 1333


Extreme programming is a type of agile methodology-based software development method that aims to significantly accelerate responsiveness to dynamic customer needs, which ensures higher software quality. This essay will discuss extreme programming in the context of the agile methodology, and outline the benefits, limitations and key project archetypes for this software development methodology.

Overview of extreme programming

Extreme programming is a software development methodology premised on the agile method. It is based on the frequent issuance of software versions in short sprint-based development cycles. In each cycle, the software version improves iteratively, and serves as a milestone for customer feedback to be obtained and new customer requirements to be incorporated into the software. Extreme programming can be viewed as an acceleration of the usual agile methodology, where code is reviewed extensively through techniques such as pair-based coding, intensive code reviews, unit code testing, incremental programming of software features, and simplicity and clarity of the code in the coding process (Smith & Stoecklin, 2001). Furthermore, extreme programming requires flexibility in adjustment to the customer’s requirements and ongoing communication with the customer to ensure that their needs are continuously being met. Developed by Kent Beck of Chrysler, extreme programming was able to satisfy the increasingly short product life-cycle demands of technology and hardware companies, and served as an important innovation to accelerate the software development process in a way that was responsive to customer needs (Smith & Stoecklin, 2001).

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Extreme programming is governed by the five key values of courage, respect, feedback, simplicity and communication. Foremost, strong communication between the various members of the software development team is necessary to ensure that knowledge is shared freely and any roadblocks or bottlenecks in the software development process are addressed in a timely manner. Secondly, extreme programming should seek the simplest solution available in order to ensure high efficiency in the software development process (Smith & Stoecklin, 2001). Thirdly, extreme programming requires constant feedback from the different software development teams and customers. Fourthly, courage is necessary to ensure that any bottlenecks or roadblocks are raised quickly in an action-oriented approach, and to discard efforts which are not working. Finally, respect is necessary to maintain team cohesion and efficiency in a highly intensive software development process (Smith & Stoecklin, 2001).

The process of extreme programming has five key stages of planning, designing, coding, testing and listening. Foremost, planning is necessary for the customer requirements to be adequately addressed in a software development plan, with the requirements formulated into stories that characterise the end result. Spikes can be introduced at this stage to flag out key unanswered questions that require further research. Next, designing ensures that a suitable structure and logic of the system is identified, which streamlines any redundancies or inefficiencies in the software development process. Thirdly, coding involves the programming of the designed system, using specific extreme programming practices such as continuous integration, collective code ownership, and pair programming. Testing, the fourth stage, then involves subjecting the program or software to various tests, such as unit tests and user acceptance tests, to verify that the software’s or program’s developed features work optimally and in accordance with the key customer requirements. Finally, the listening stage involves receiving further customer feedback and advice on areas for improvement, in order to fix any issues with the software. The whole process requires the constant and active engagement of customers, programmers, developers and managers in an active cycle of feedback and reiteration.

Benefits of extreme programming

Extreme programming enjoys the following advantages. Foremost, if implemented correctly, extreme programming provides clear code and a stable system. As the method involves incremental software development that constantly incorporates customer feedback, customer satisfaction is normally high, and the end-user’s needs are eventually met in a comprehensive manner. Extreme programming also ensures active collaboration and communication without the need for cumbersome documentation, while a minimalist and iterative approach ensures that only the most feasible results are used and quickly moved to the next stage of development.

Extreme programming also involves a number of specific work practices that distinguish it from other agile methodologies in enabling more efficient program development. Foremost, feedback should be acquired through planning games, pair programming, on-site customer interviews and test-driven development (Gopaul, 2017). In particular, pair programming ensures active engagement with the programming process, and provides a check and balance in the form of a secondary programmer who ensures that the code is sound.

Next, continual processes of code refactoring, continuous integration and small releases must be implemented to ensure that issues in each of the software releases can be quickly addressed and iterated upon (Gopaul, 2017). Thirdly, code understanding processes should be implemented in the areas of collective code ownership, coding standards and simple design to ensure a strong basis of simple, efficient and high quality coding. In particular, code factoring ensures that unnecessary redundancies and functions are eliminated to increase the efficiency and coherency of the code. Continuous integration then allows iterative development to be conducted in a way that integrates the rapid work of various teams and prevents different versions of software from conflicting with each other. When taken collectively, these techniques and practices ensure an efficient and highly responsive approach to software development.

Limitations of extreme programming

There are, however, several limitations to extreme programming. Foremost, extreme programming requires intensive commitment on the part of the team, as well as a shift in mindset to embrace a more dynamic, uncertain and iterative form of software development. Furthermore, regular planning and feedback sessions with the customer could take up a significant amount of the team’s bandwidth.

Another key issue is the lack of documentation in extreme programming, which may lead to project creep and the inability to track bottlenecks or issues in the software development process. Pair programming can also be highly personality-reliant, and may lead to conflict within the team at times. Finally, given the highly iterative and dynamic nature of extreme programming, the scope, time requirements and cost for the project may be subject to significant variation, with no clear view of the end result at the start of the project’s timeline.

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Types of projects suited to extreme programming

Extreme programming is generally best suited to high-risk projects which rely on automated testing and continuous iteration (Rao et al, 2011). This may include new software and programs without a previous template, which requires the team to constantly test and trial new software features frequently. Furthermore, extreme programming may be less suited to larger-scale projects which require more meticulous planning, documentation and project scopes, as these projects may be less tolerant of continuous iterations and changes (Rao et al, 2011). Finally, extreme programming would work well for projects where customers wish to be closely involved, or which require constant updates to system functionality with requirements that are frequently changed.


In conclusion, extreme programming is a useful subset of the agile programming methodology, which allows for more iterative and efficient development that actively takes customer feedback and requirements into account. However, teams should consider whether the type of project and team on hand is well suited to the use of extreme programming, given the demands of its techniques and workflows.


Gopaul, D. (2017). Software Methodologies: SCRUM vs Extreme Programming. Lulu Press, Inc.

Rao, K. N., Naidu, G. K., & Chakka, P. (2011). A study of the Agile software development methods, applicability and implications in industry. International Journal of Software Engineering and its applications5(2), 35-45.

Smith, S., & Stoecklin, S. (2001). What we can learn from extreme programming. Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges17(2), 144-151.

Strigel, W. (2001). Guest Editor’s Introduction: Reports from the Field: Using Extreme Programming and Other Experiences. IEEE Software18(6), 17.

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