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Jonathan Erickson

Dr. Dobb's Bloggers

Manifesto for Software Craftsmanship

March 24, 2009

You have to admit that the term "manifesto" -- that is, a public declaration of intentions, opinions, objectives, or motives -- carries a lot of weight.

The U.S. Declaration of Independence is generally classified as a manifesto. Then there's the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the Russell-Einstein Manifesto against nuclear weapons, (my favorite) the SCUM Manifesto (short for "Society For Cutting Up Men") that calls for the gendercide of men, and the Unabomber's Manifesto by the Unabomber, among many others. They all were important to someone, although I don't recall reading any of them except for the U.S. Declaration of Independence in Civics class.

Our corner of the world isn't without manifestos of its own, and big surprise -- Dr. Dobb's is in the middle. Even to this day, The GNU Manifesto by Richard Stallman is still influential and held in high regard because it laid the groundwork for free software and open source -- and Stallman published The GNU Manifesto in the March 1985 issue of Dr. Dobb's Journal.

Some 20 years later, a group of programmers convened, wrote, and signed the Agile Manifesto , which defined the principles of agile software development -- "Individuals and interactions over processes and tools," "Working software over comprehensive documentation," "Customer collaboration over contract negotiation," and "Responding to change over following a plan." The 17 authors of the manifesto were: Kent Beck, Mike Beedle, Arie van Bennekum, Alistair Cockburn, Ward Cunningham, Martin Fowler, James Grenning, Jim Highsmith, Andrew Hunt, Ron Jeffries, Jon Kern, Brian Marick, Robert C. Martin, Steve Mellor, Ken Schwaber, Jeff Sutherland, and Dave Thomas.

More recently, a group of programmers have collaborated on the Manifesto for Software Craftsmanship, an extension to the Agile Manifesto. Like it's predecessor, this manifesto is based on four "values," too -- "Not only working software, but also well-crafted software," "Not only responding to change, but also steadily adding value," "Not only individuals and interactions, but also a community of professionals," and "Not only customer collaboration, but also productive partnerships." Clearly, there's a lot more to the Software Craftsmanship manifesto than what I've presented here and you'll find it worth your while to look into this. Scott Ambler goes into detail in Dr. Dobb's Agile Update 03/09 , and of course you should check out the Manifesto for Software Craftsmanship website.

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