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Wild West to Agile

Adventures in software development evolution and revolution

Early draft of the cover. It will change.


Wild West to Agile presents a history of  software development adventurers who envisioned the future, and the methods, methodologies, and mindsets that enabled their vision. Using stories and analysis, this book conveys how preparation for the future  where “Technology is your business—no matter what your business,” includes understanding the past.

Jim Highsmith tackles the evolution and revolution of software development, embellishes them with personal stories, from the Apollo moon mission to modern digital transformations, and introduces adventurous pioneers—from structured era developer Ken Orr to Agile methodologist Kent Beck—who strive to make the world a better place, by building better software.

Jim’s six-decade business and technology career  encompassed the Wild West (1966-1979) to Structured Methods and Monumental Methodologies (1980s), to the Roots of Agile (1990s) to the Agile Era (2001-present). In each era, he explores the evolution of software development methods, methodologies, and mindsets.

Whether you are from the 1970-1980’s generation looking for a “I was there too” moment, a newer generation interested in the evolution of software development, the Agile generation interested in how Agile methodologies were born and evolved, or have a general interest in Information Technology, Wild West to Agile has something for you.

Book Testimonials

“Jim Highsmith is the Forrest Gump of software development. What made the 1994 movie so entertaining was how frequently Forrest found himself in the right spot as history was being made. Unlike Forrest, though, Jim’s actions influenced that history.” 
-Mike Cohn, Co-Founder of the Agile Alliance, and the Scrum Alliance; author of Succeeding with Agile.

“If you want to understand the shape of software development today, this is the book for you. If you want to understand how to navigate a turbulent career with grace & style, this is also the book for you. If you enjoy memoirs, ditto. Enjoy his story.”
-Kent Beck, Chief Scientist, Mechanical Orchard; Author, Extreme Programming Explained

“This entire journey—beginning with the Wild West era of software development through the Agile Era to today’s Digital Transformation era—is entirely empowered by people.  Thank you, Jim, for sharing these beautiful stories and honoring the people that were a part of this amazing journey. -Heidi J. Musser,  Board Member, Vice President and CIO, USAA, retired

“I’ve always felt that understanding history is important, because it’s hard to understand where we are unless you understand the path that we took to get here. Jim’s memoir is an entertaining and astute odyssey through this history.”
-Martin Fowler, Chief Scientist, Thoughtworks