Extreme Construction in Action

Joe Bergin and Fred Grossman used this exercise in September 2003. There were two groups of 10 students. Most of the students had read Kent Beck's Extreme Programming Explained (Embrace Change). We had also earlier given them a demonstration of test first programming and pair programming using Java, junit, and Eclipse.

We started with a short review of the four values and the twelve practices as expressed in Beck. We then described the exercise for a bit, focusing on the "test first" part as explained in the Production Rules. Fred then took the four customers (two from each team) aside and they discussed what would be built. He gave them a few ideas, both about the possibilities and the details. One pair of customers decided they wanted a cut-away view of a school with four classrooms and the other a suspension bridge with a pivoting center span. The latter proved harder to specify than the school. It was also harder to work on the stories of this project simultaneously and independently.

We ultimately did two cycles with a debrief in between and at the end. The debrief is extremely important as there was a bit of chaos as we proceeded and some misapplication of the "rules." It improved in the second cycle. Students agreed generally that it was valuable and put Kent's written descriptions in a concrete context.

Hmmm. Building before there are any stories.

Starting on the Schoolhouse.

Arguing with the customer.

Shared materials.

Story writing.

Bridge construction.

Starting on the school's boiler room.


Soccer field (as if you didn't know.)

No door in the principal's silo (er.. office).


Test for the bridge roadway.

Test for the bridge structure.

Writing stories.

Test for the school layout.


Whee. This is fun.


Basketball court under construction.

Discarded bridge superstructure (refactoring).

Bridge turntable, version 2.0.

Bridge decking.

Boiler room with smoke.

School room with whiteboard.

Basketball court.

Bridge turntable.

Stories, spikes, tests, ...




Do food.


Last updated: September 13, 2003