Today I attended the QCon conference in San Francisco. Kent Beck , the "father" of XP, opened the conference with his keynote speech on Trends in Agile development. It was pretty interesting to hear what Kent had to say about the all the hype in XP community. 

According to Kent, we are seeing a great convergence of Business Trends and Developing Trends in the IT world. 10 years ago developers didn't really care much about "what the customers want" but rather developed programs they thought useful. It was socially acceptable for a developer to be socially dead and only interact with the computer. But that's changing and changing fast. The business world demands the developers to behave and function in a certain way. Kent thinks that XP (or Agile technologies) addresses these trends extensively and that drives the popularity of XP. 

So what are these business trends Kent is talking about and how do they affect developers? 

 

Business Trends Development Trends
  • Accountability
  • Developers need to be accountable for the code they write. They need to deliver code in time for the business to prosper.
  • Responsibility
  • Need to take ownership for the code they write. So, developers need to be confident that they write high quality code with fewer bugs
  • Transparency
  • Being honest and pragmatic about the problems and hurdles developers have to jump to get the code out
  • Relationships
  • Keeping a customer is cheaper than finding a new one. Therefore it is important to include the customer in the development process and keep them in the loop.

 

So this approach demands a different breed of developers. Developers who are "geeky" yet demonstrate reasonable social skills in life… social skills like listening, team building and team work, appreciative attitude, emotional intelligence and integrity. So one might ask… "Don't technical skills matter anymore for a developer?". The answer is actually no. Anyone with a healthy brain can learn any programming language and write good code with some guidance and practice. But it is not easy to train someone to behave a certain way or teach some values like being positive or working as a team. 

Putting all this in Ephox's context, I think Ephox has gotten most of this right! We have dynamic development team who possess fantastic social skills and very good at what they do.