When one starts discussing software development methodologies, 5 main types will lead the discussion, namely,
i. Prototyping process
ii. Rapid application development
iii. Component-based development
iv. Extreme programming methodology
v. Agile software development
I have been approached by many programmers asking which one of these 5 is the best one. Raking the best one out of all is actually not possible as it can vary from programmer to programmer. But if you ask my personal opinion, I would say that the best one is Agile software development.
To support my preference, I will give you all the benefits of the agile methodology that I think gives it an edge over all the other software development methodologies.
Actually, Agile development is an umbrella term for several agile methodologies clubbed together like Scrum, Crystal, Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM), Lean Development, Feature-Driven Development (FDD), etc. All these methodologies help in iterative and incremental software development.
The Agile Manifesto, which explains the core values and the common vision that all the agile methodologies share states that agile software development incorporates continuous planning followed by continuous testing and integration, in turn, resulting in the gradual evolution of the software as well as the project.
With a unique approach towards software development, the agile software development life cycle is capable of offering these benefits:
As the agile methodology has continuous repetitive cycles of planning, working, testing, getting feedback from all the involved parties, and then planning again keeping in mind the feedback received from the previous tests, the complete software development project becomes predictable in terms of time needed for completion and the costs. The cycle is known as a sprint, and at the start of every sprint, the estimates given to the clients are checked and revised according to the need. This way, one gets a clear idea of the progress of the project at any state.
The client can constantly be kept in the loop by including him or her in the testing and feedback process of every loop. This way, the client can be privy to every development phase of the project and can ask for all the required edits. For this reason, this methodology is often called a customer-focused software development process.
The complete software development project is completed after several evolving sprints, and the client is kept in the loop during every testing session. This helps the client to analyse the project at every stage and give suggestions.
For example, if you are getting a house built, you can discuss your requirements with the builder and then visit the site at regular intervals to watch how the building is progressing and then while it is under construction, you may come across several more ideas that you may want to include in your home. You can suggest these to the builder, and he can incorporate those changes easily while the building is under construction. But, if you are not kept in the loop with regular updates of the progress, you may suggest changes after the building is complete and making changes at that stage is expensive as well as time-consuming.
The same happens in the agile methodology. The client can ask for changes that can be easily made at the developing stages.
The list of advantages of the agile software development is never-ending. The ease of working and the flexibility in design and planning that it offers appeal the software developers and business owners equally.