Can a lone developer use Agile?

Agile development methodologies such as standups, sprints and even retrospectives can be adopted by developers who work alone

lone_ranger-600x450_0.jpgREUTERS/Str Old
If the Lone Ranger developed apps, would he use Agile?

The stereotypical view of a software developer is, of course, of the loner in a cube writing code all day. The truth of the matter is that, most of the time, coders work as a part of team, and if that team is using Agile methodology, it can be quite the social scene. From daily standups to sprint demos to retrospectives to even pair programming, it can involve a regular number of meetings and (shudder) human interaction.

However, there are those developers out there who, either by desire or circumstance, work alone, as one man or woman development teams. Are they ruled out from using Agile methods to manage their own development work, or can Agile be adopted by the lone developer?

It’s a question that comes up from time to time in developer forums. There are those who think that some particular Agile approaches cannot be used by a solo developer. Extreme Programming (XP), which relies heavily on pair programming, would seem to be ruled out. Likewise, some believe that the optimal size of Scrum teams is somewhere between 5 and 10 people (or something more than 1). After all, how you hold stand ups or retrospectives with just one person?

Despite this, the general consensus seems to be that Agile can most definitely be adopted by the solo developer. Master’s theses have been written about it and even XP has been adapted for use by one person (minus the pair programming, of course). Overall, many familiar with Agile feel that most, if not all, of the basic components can be adopted by solo developers. 

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