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Survey: Agile interest high, but waterfall still used by many

While there's a strong interest in new software development techniques and processes,'s 2008 Agile Trends survey found that many people still follow waterfall practices.

While there's a strong interest in new software development techniques and processes,'s 2008 Agile Trends survey found that many people still follow traditional development practices.

In fact, when asked which development processes their organizations employed, the number of respondents for Agile and waterfall was almost the same with 46% saying they used Agile and 44% saying they used waterfall. When looking at the department level, 39% said they used Agile while 36% said waterfall. The survey, launched in May of this year, was open to members; it represents the views of 208 respondents.

More evidence of the use of traditional development practices is found in the responses to questions about requirements gathering methods. Use cases, often associated with use of the Unified Modeling Language (UML) notation and with pre-Agile processes such as the Rational Unified Process (RUP), is the favorite among the survey respondents, with 49.72% saying they use that technique.

Analysis of the 2008 Agile Trends Survey results

* Teams turn to use cases, user stories to ease requirements gathering challenges

* Agile practitioners face challenges, but see process improvements

* Tools of the Agile trade

* Development groups take many routes to Agile

However, that does not mean that development teams are stuck in their ways and not interested in new things. Of those not currently using Agile development processes, 32% are interested in them but don't yet have plans to implement a process, 25% are somewhat interested, and 8% plan to implement an Agile process within the next 12 months.

And of those who have been using an Agile process, more than half have been using it for a year or more. Scrum (40%) and Extreme Programming (15%) are the most popular Agile processes.

Software development challenges
When asked about areas of application lifecycle management that caused issues for them, survey respondents overwhelmingly said requirements gathering was challenging (31%), followed by process improvement (12%) and software testing and QA (12%).

Looking more closely at software testing, integration testing is the type of testing that gives respondents the most difficulty (20.86%), followed by regression testing (15.93%). Unit testing was also an issue for 13.19% of the respondents.

Performance testing was flagged as a challenge when asked about areas of application performance management that are difficult. Nearly 22% said pre-production performance testing was an issue, followed by 20% for gathering performance requirements and 19% for designing for performance.

Survey respondents do turn to tools to help with their testing. Two companies that have a strong foothold in this space include HP/Mercury and Microsoft, both used by 36% of the respondents. Nearly 26% use IBM Rational tools and 27% use other tools, including in-house tools and open source tools.

And when asked about tools that are essential to successful software development, the responses were nearly equal: 66% said project management/tracking tools, 63% said bug tracking tools, 63% said requirements management tools, and 62% said documenting tools.

A closer look at the numbers writers Jack Vaughan and Colleen Frye took a closer look at the survey numbers and talked with respondents and experts about what they mean. That analysis can be found in the four stories that they wrote:


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