I've just been involved in a debate regarding semantics of how to define approaches to the software development lifecycle.

As far as I have been concerned, waterfall and agile are not methodologies, they are vaguely defined approaches/models. The definition of a methodology being a set of tools and techniques used to exactly define the steps taken to develop a successful software project.

In my understanding, the following statements are true: -

  • SSADM (Structured System Analysis and Design) is a waterfall methodology
  • Scrum is an agile methodology
  • XP is an agile methodology

Thus, it would not make sense to write: -

  • Waterfall is a waterfall methodology
  • Agile is an agile methodology

Since you would get into a recursive mess.

The issue is, whenever I get into this debate with anyone, they seem to be certain that waterfall is a methodology and so is agile.

An example of what I see as being incorrect is the following article: -


Methodologies Waterfall Prototype model Incremental Iterative V-Model Spiral Scrum Cleanroom RAD DSDM RUP XP Agile Lean Dual Vee Model TDD FDD DDD

These are listed as methodologies on the wikipedia page and I find that this is just plain wrong. Can someone please correct me and/or let me know what terminology I should be using?

closed as primarily opinion-based by gnat, Martijn Pieters, Wyatt Barnett, user40980, Bart van Ingen Schenau Feb 3 '14 at 9:45

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    A programmer once said that waterfall is a waterfall methodology. When they asked if waterfall methodology was named after waterfall, the programmer lapsed into a coma and has not awoken. You're messing with dangerous forces here. – Neil Jan 30 '14 at 11:49
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    I do wish stack exchange wouldn't allow down votes without commented reasoning – chrisw Jan 30 '14 at 12:44
  • In the absence of a specific comment, you might find it useful to assume that a downvote means the downvoter thought that "This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful", since that's what the downvote button offers as a tooltip. – AakashM Jan 30 '14 at 12:58
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    @AakashM: honestly, the question shows some research effort, it is IMHO very clear, and it is specific for software development. So I would be interested in the reasons for downvoting, too. But I guess this may be a good starting point for a question on meta. - Seems this question was already asked there meta.programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/5420/… – Doc Brown Jan 30 '14 at 13:31
  • @DocBrown sure, I was just offering OP some unsolicited advice. It's been a recurring theme on MSO since forever, pretty much. – AakashM Jan 30 '14 at 13:57

If you call "Waterfall" a methodology, or if you only call something like SSADM a methodology, depends mainly on the level of detail and the context of your discussion. Same holds for "Agile" (though I guess the latter term is not very often considered to be a methodology on its own).

So my advice is: whenever you want to talk about those things, just clarify the context before you run into a fruitless debate.

Natural language is not always precise.

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