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Newsflash: Agilists Write Documentation!

We Need to Do Better

It is possible to achieve value from effective modeling and documentation practices, but unfortunately many organizations aren't taking advantage of these practices. Dr. Dobb's Modeling and Documentation Survey found that 80 percent of people are learning to model through on the job experience, 28 percent from mentoring by an experienced modeler, 18 percent through university or college courses, 9 percent from modeling training, and 5 percent by modeling tool training. It seems to me that if our approach to learning how to model was a bit less haphazard, then there wouldn't be as many myths and misunderstandings around modeling, and more importantly that we could leverage modeling practices and tools more effectively.

The Surveys

In July 2008, I ran two surveys to explore what was actually going on out there.

The Dr. Dobb's Modeling and Documentation Survey was with the DDJ readership, which has a range of readers doing everything from ad-hoc development to very traditional development. The request to respond to the survey was sent out to the Dr. Dobb's mailing list and advertised on Jonathan Erickson's blog. There were 279 respondents. 54.8 percent were developers, 25.4 percent were in management, and the rest in other roles. When it comes to IT experience, 33.3 percent had 10-20 years and 41.6 percent had 20+ years. The source data (without identifying information), the questions as they were asked, and summary slides are available at

The Ambysoft 2008 Agile Practices and Principles Survey ran the last week of July and focused on agile software development teams. The survey was announced on the Agile Modeling, Agile Database, Extreme Programming, Agile Project Management, and Scrum Development mailing lists. There were 337 respondents, 37 percent were developers and 37 percent in management. 42 percent had 10-20 years of IT experience and 17 percent had 20+ years. The source data, questions, and summary slide deck are available at


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