How to actually write a program?

Alex Martelli aleaxit at
Tue Sep 7 15:58:06 CEST 2004

Peter Hansen <peter at> wrote:

> Alex Martelli wrote:
> > Peter Hansen <peter at> wrote:
> >>Ahhh!!  Run!  Run, Neil, run!  UML!
> ...
> >>Ahhh!!! Run away some more!  UML and XP are nearly anti-thetical.
> > 
> > UML and Agile/XP are typically used in organizations with very different
> > philosophies and mindsets.  They're anything but antithetical
> > _technically_, but, _culturally_, you're probably right...
> I guess I won't (can't) disagree until I have an idea what
> you mean in this case by "technically".  On the face of it,
> I see little that isn't antithetical about them, technically
> or otherwise.  Quick (and for the most part throw-away) drawings
> on whiteboards would seem to be the preferred Agile/XP solution,
> but maybe that's where you bring in "culturally"...

In many cases such drawings will be just fine (and quite a few places in
the past splurged for self-copying whiteboards, though these days the
cheap way to make those sketches durable is a digital camera), but not
in all.  Again, Scott Ambler deals with this better than I can hope to
do in a post.  Technically, UML is a language, or series of languages,
to express various modeling artifacts.  There is nothing in Agile
Development (or even specifically XP) which makes those diagrams'
languages incompatible with agility or extremity, any more than, say,
CRC based alternatives, or any other kind you like.

Let me offer a silly analogy: an XP team might perfectly well decide
that the language for all of their communication will be Latin.  There
is nothing technically incompatible between that decision and XP's
practices -- the Vatican has made sure approved Latin terms exist for
all kinds of modern words, they publish a dictionary for the purpose.
It would be _culturally_ unlikely, but there's no technical antithesis.

Clearer now...?

> >>-rabidly-anti-UML-ically y'rs,
> >>  Peter
> > 
> > I suspect your "anti-ness" comes from cultural and not technical factor.
> > Basically, injecting some modeling into an Agile culture, just like the
> > reverse, takes diplomatic talents which very few people possess...
> Again, not sure how to tell the difference.  I was working in
> a group where we were trying to make effective use of UML
> before we ever encountered Agile... in fact, it was in part
> due to those experiences that we embraced agility and XP...
> And since we managed to get agility into a modeling culture,
> I'll assume someone had the necessary talents.  I think the
> problem lay elsewhere.

Ah, a _lapsed_ UML'arian, those are indeed the most rabid ones;-)


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