What is Agile Software Development?

Last modified: October 18th, 2013

Agile development is a common umbrella term used for today’s highly iterative and incremental approaches to software development.  The term was first used in 2001 when the Agile Manifesto was published as a unifying charter by many of the leading visionaries in the software field at the time who were fed up with traditional approaches to software development.  Unlike traditional software development practices, agile development methodologies such as Scrum, Extreme Programming, Dynamic System Development Method (DSDM), Lean Development, Feature-Driven Development (FDD), Crystal, Adaptive Software Development (ASD), and others incorporate close, cross-functional collaboration and frequent planning and feedback as fundamental tenets inherent to the evolution of a software system. 

The overarching focus of agile development projects is the frequent delivery of high-quality, working software in the form of business-valued functionality.  Each of these methods emphasizes ongoing alignment between technology and the business.  They are all considered lightweight in nature in that they strive to impose a minimum of bureaucracy and overhead within the development lifecycle.  They are adaptive in that they embrace and manage changing requirements and business priorities throughout the development process.  With any agile development project, there is also considerable emphasis on empowering teams and collaborative decision-making.

Agile Manifesto
Principles Behind The Agile Manifesto (agilemanifesto.org)
Agile Software Development (Wikipedia)
The New Methodology (Martin Fowler)
10 Key Agile Principles (All About Agile)