What is Agile and What are User Stories?

Software projects requires some sort of cohesive team effort, but where can you start? Different methods have been created by developers on creating software on a timeline, such as Code-and-fix, Waterfall, and Agile. Code-and-fix was one of the first methods of development of software. The method was fairly ineffective; when problems arose from coding or there was a difference in vision from what the product owner wanted, it required a large amount of time and resources to remedy. Waterfall was a step in a better direction. The method created specific modules for development and testing. However, Waterfall was still not entirely a foolproof system for code development. Once a team completed a module, it was difficult to revert and change problems that originated from the previous module.

Waterfall (Left), Agile (Right).

Agile utilizes a cycle method, also known as Sprints, which focuses on improving the product frequently while collaborating with the product owner specifying what works and what doesn’t. A major difference between Agile and other methods is flexibility on requirements. As development continues, the product owner may need to alter a feature, and add an entirely new feature that was not originally  on the blueprint. User stories are the product owner’s wishes on features of the finished software. Agile developers read these user stories and determine what can and cannot be put into the final product. This has been regarded as an easy way to find out what people want in their product while being concise. After user stories have been collected, the developers can use a technique called “Planning Poker” in order to figure out what should and should not be worked on for the Sprints.

User Stories Template

From the article, “What Agile Teams think of Agile Principles”, by Laurie Williams, she reviews over two surveys conducted on how effective agile practices are and the most important futures of agile.  A large amount of those surveyed put importance on satisfying customers first and foremost. “Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software”(Williams, 2012, p. 73). The absence of updates and seeing software development in progress was a large fault of Code-and-Fix, and Waterfall. Adil Zeaaraoui states in “User Stories Template for Object-Oriented Applications”, “They help bridge the developer-customer communication gap; they provide the common language to build understanding between the user and the technical team” (Zeaaraoui, 2013, p. 408). A large problem in most teams is communication. The translation between from technical language to consumer-friendly language can be rough, but can be fixed through these user stories.


Williams, L.. (April 2012). What Agile Teams think of Agile Practices. Communications of the ACM, Vol. 55. Retrieved from http://web.b.ebscohost.com.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=0ce753d4-0452-4d46-9e4d-e420643890d1%40sessionmgr112&vid=5&hid=122

Zeaaraoui, A., Bougroun, Z., Belkasmi, M., & Bouchentouf, T. (August 2013). User Stories Template for Object-Oriented Applications. Third International Conference on Innovative Computing Technology. Retrieved from http://ieeexplore.ieee.org.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=&arnumber=6653681

Image credit to http://www.agilenutshell.com/assets/how-is-agile-different/continuous-activities.png

Image credit to http://mikebosch.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/12-9-2010-4-29-29-PM.png


One comment

  1. Hi Aidan, I like how you start the block with a question, and how you answer the question. It is very descriptive and concise, it definitely explain that Agile was the result of many upsetting methodologies. However, I think that mentioning the Agile Manifesto might be a good idea, also in the part where you described the “Planning Poker techniques” is a little bit confusing. Finally, adding pictures to the block would be a great idea, “a picture can expressed a thousand word.” There is a lot of descriptive picture that can really help you enhanced the message that you are trying to transmit to the reader.


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