Home > Articles > Software Development & Management > Agile

Interview with Ron Jeffries, Ann Anderson, and Chet Hendrickson

Extreme programming (XP) is becoming a very popular model for building applications. In this interview, XP experts Ron Jeffries, Ann Anderson, and Chet Hendrickson explain how the principles of XP can apply to more than just programming.
Like this article? We recommend

Like this article? We recommend

Question: Why did you decide to try extreme programming (XP) on a real project?

Chet: We chose to do XP because we had failed miserably using a more mainstream OOA/OOD approach and we had nothing to lose. We brought Kent Beck in to help [with] performance tuning and he found a zombie project; it was dead, but didn't know it. XP gave us a way to get back on track and to demonstrate to our customers and our management that we were staying on track.

Ann: I don't think I decided to use XP on a real project. I had heard about what the C3 (Chrysler Comprehensive Compensation) team was doing, and I tried to convince the manager of the project I was working on to try some of the things they were doing. All I really wanted to do was automated testing. My manager told me automated testing was too expensive, and we didn't have time for it. I think that was when I decided I would really rather work on a different project. Eventually, I joined the C3 team.

Now, when I think about joining a project, the method they use is one of the things I consider. I have worked on failing projects and I have no desire to repeat the experience. I think XP can help make projects successful, so I prefer to work on projects using XP.

Ron: I had had a bit of grounding in Kent Beck's practices through a tutorial I took from him and some subsequent email. They resonated with my own beliefs, and made sense. Little did I know at that time how extreme, and how powerful, his ideas were.

Question: How do you "install" XP in an organization?

Chet: There are two basic ways to install XP. On the C3 project, the developers, the customers, and all of our management bought into the process, so we took the practices on faith until we saw that it all did work. The other way is to slowly introduce the practices one at a time until the project is doing everything. I would recommend starting with testing, continuous integration, and the planning game.

Ann: The short answer is, buy our book—it gives you all of the details. A longer answer is that there are two ways to install XP in a project. One approach is subversive—don't ask management for permission, just start doing the practices. The second approach is to have permission and support from both management and the development team—and then start doing the practices. I have no way of knowing which approach would work best for you or your company.

Ron: For a group to go "full XP," the desire has to be there. If there is resistance to any process, the process won't take. Once you have the commitment, there is another choice to make: Will you try to do all the practices at once, or will you start with whichever one will give the biggest benefit (or with your biggest problem) and add them in sequentially? I enjoy working with teams that want to do it all. It's not disruptive, and the learning goes quickly. The team gets benefits from all the practices, even early on.

Question: Why is XP so popular around the world?

Chet: Mostly because it works.

Ann: XP is popular because it gives people hope. By following the practices of XP, they can make their projects successful. Too many software projects fail—and the emotional and financial cost of those failures is huge. The message of our book is that it doesn't have to be that way.

Ron: I think it appeals to programmers who feel there must be a way to strip away the heavy processes and get to the essence of providing software that people actually want. It appeals to customers and managers who are looking for a way to have a sense of control over their projects, and who are looking for a better way to get what they need.

Question: Why did you decide to write a book on XP?

Chet: Kent's book had just come out and we saw the need for a more detailed look at how you bring XP into an organization—and we couldn't think of anyone with more experience at doing XP on a daily basis than us.

Ann: Uh…I did it for the fame? Or was it the money? Or maybe it was for the groupies?

Ron: We had had a great experience on the project we did together, and wanted to share that with the world. And of course we were hoping for fame, fortune, and to be allowed to play ourselves in the eventual movie.

Question: How does XP compare to traditional software methods like the SEI's PSP or Rational's RUP?

Chet: XP is a lightweight process. It's designed to be [the] least methodology that could possibly work and it's targeted toward projects of a certain size and shape. The ones you have mentioned are designed to be all things to all people and as such are much heavier than the average project needs.

Ann: I think that the difference between XP and more traditional software methods isn't in what you do or don't do; it's in why. XP is focused on delivering software to the customer on time. It's called extreme programming because programming is a really important part of delivering software. Everything we propose doing in XP supports that goal.

Ron: If you did PSP, you would know a lot about your software development skills and process. I'm not at all sure that you would get any more software done. Part of what's good about XP is that it involves a lot of programming—which is what programmers tend to like—and it does it in a way that gives the customer control over what gets done, and a clear sense of quality.

XP is what we call an "instance" of RUP. That is, RUP is a set of general guidelines for creating a software process, and XP is a specific software process that's consistent with it. Some people disagree with that, choosing to interpret RUP as requiring a lot more paperwork than an XP project typically has to endure. Certainly RUP and XP share a focus on an iterative, incremental approach to developing the product.

Question: Was writing anything like you thought it would be?

Chet: We didn't know how to write a book, so I don't think we knew what to expect. The process we were using at the end was very different from the one we started with.

Ann: Writing was nothing like I thought it would be. It was both better and worse than I ever imagined.

Ron: Writing the book turned out to be harder than we thought. We produced twice as much material as we needed, and went through about three different organizations for the book. It was really fun and I'd like to do it again.

Question: What background and expertise did you bring to writing this book?

Chet: Our project was the first to do all of XP. In fact, the process didn't have a name until quite a ways into the project. We have the most experience with XP, not only when it's running smoothly, but also when it's going off track. We're able to show how the theory can be turned into practice.

Ann: I have a degree in computer science and engineering. I also have over a decade of experience working as a software developer. Some of my projects have been successful; some haven't. Fortunately, I'm willing to share what I learned.

Ron: Modesty forbids. Well, okay—I've been doing software since about 1962, and have had the luxury of working all that time on new and exciting problems and technology. Over that time I've made many mistakes, and have learned from them after the first few times. The most exciting thing that I've ever done was to learn XP from Kent. It brings together things I've always believed and things I never understood, in a way that seems to me to make success in software much more likely. I'm enthusiastic about it, and wanted to share it with the world. And there was the movie thing.

Question: What one thing do you want software developers and organizations to take away after they read your book?

Chet: That there is a better way, one that's predictable and repeatable, one that lets your customers get what they want and lets your developers live normal lives.

Ann: I think software developers and organizations will have an understanding of what XP is, and how they can make it work for them.

Ron: There is a better way. And it's not harder or less fun. It's more fun and better for customers and programmers alike.

Question: What are your plans for future projects and books?

Chet: I'm collecting patterns used in testing, with the idea of putting together a book to help projects test their systems better.

Ann: I don't have any plans for the next book. I'm still basking in the glow of having written Extreme Programming Installed. I'm looking forward to XP (and other light methods) 2001 in Italy. Other than that, my calendar is open.

Ron: I really did enjoy doing the book and would like to do another one. One topic that appeals to me is refining XP: How do you go beyond vanilla XP to accommodate various situations? Another topic that would be very valuable would be a book about XP testing. I'm sure that someone in the XP community will work on that one very soon. We're not sure who'll step up to that one.

Question: What are your predictions for XP in the next few years?

Chet: Over the past couple of years, we've seen XP take hold within the software community—without a lot of projects actually doing XP as a whole. I'm afraid that projects will continue to adopt just some of XP's practices and therefore rob themselves of the opportunity to be as effective as they could.

Ann: I think XP is going to have a huge impact on how people develop software. Timeframes for developing software [are] being compressed, while the complexity of the software is increasing—something has to change. We can't continue to develop software using the same old methods and remain competitive.

Ron: I expect that it will continue to grow. People will try it and have good results, and other people will try it and fail anyway. I think that there's a lot to software development and to product and company success, and no process is a silver bullet. And XP will continue to be controversial. A lot of the controversy, frankly, is from people who don't know what it is and are just reacting to the name, or to our enthusiasm for it. But there are some important questions as well, such as where XP's approach to emergent design will work, and where it may not. We're at the beginning of the lightweight methodology era, and there's still a lot to learn.

Question: What else is out there that compares with XP?

Ron: XP has a lot of mind share right now, but there are many people working in light methodology. Jim Highsmith's Adaptive Software Development is aimed at larger projects than XP addresses, and Alistair Cockburn is working on a family of light processes, of which XP is one high-performance member.

About the Authors

Ron Jeffries, Ann Anderson, and Chet Hendrickson are the authors of Extreme Programming Installed(http://www.awlonline.com/product/0,2627,0201708426,00.html) (Addison-Wesley), 2001, ISBN 0-201-70842-6).

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020