History of the Software Craftsmanship Manifesto

History of the Software Craftsmanship Manifesto

Paul Pagel
Paul Pagel
March 11, 2009

I would like to prelude this with an assurance that this is not the history of the software craftsmanship. Rather, this is just a brief history of Software Craftsmanship Manifesto.

It started when Uncle Bob's keynote speech last year at Agile 2008. Uncle Bob proposed an amendment to the Agile Manifesto titled: Software Craftsmanship over Crap. Now, the manifesto, to my knowledge, was never changed. However, the software craftsmanship community started to become more active.

The actual manifesto started with a summit on Software Craftsmanship in Chicago, on December 13, 2008. There we discussed what it means to be a craftsman and an apprentice and so forth.

We spent the afternoon discussing who the document would be written for, what the contents of it would be, if the document already existed, and if it needed to exist at all. The attendees deserve a lot of credit on getting these ideas started, and they are listed below.

On a whiteboard, we wrote the first version of the manifesto and all the attendees signed it. For a few months afterwards, we talked about it on the Google group, discussing the various ideas put forth at the summit.

Then, in February, Doug Bradbury wrote an email called “The new Left Side” which started to get the values and wording which was refined into the actual Software Craftsmanship Manifesto. There was a debate about how the agile manifesto and the software craftsmanship manifesto that was instrumental in moving forward with the manifesto.

You can read these threads at the software craftsmanship google group. They start with “The new left side” by Doug Bradbury and “Right side, revisited” by Scott Pfister. It was a fascinating conversation, which spawned the final language of the manifesto.

So, the question that was asked on the software craftsmanship mailing list and in the twitterverse, is “Why a software craftsmanship manifesto?”

Well, if you will permit me to give an existential answer, it is because the list has 1771 signatories as of this writing. That many people now know each other as craftsmen in some context. They know they can talk as craftsmen, and hopefully move forward in our industry as craftsmen.

Let me use some other answers to the question to give another perspective:

“As of today, there are over 1500 signatures on the Manifesto. 1500 people are fighting against crap code. Those who have been fighting crap code now know that they are not alone in their fight. Those who write crap code now know that there are 1500 people fighting against them.” —Micah Martin

“By becoming a vocal community, publishing a manifesto, beginning work on establishing principles and concrete schools of thought, we are creating a light that new developers can see. Those who are really interested can more easily find us, talk to us about apprenticeships, meet companies that actively engage in craftsmanship activities (apprenticeships, journeymen programs, etc.). In some cases, this will introduce them sooner to these ideas, hopefully saving some from the frustrations they can face in a different situation.” —Corey Haines

Here‘s a small sampling of the people who have signed the Software Craftsmanship Manifesto to date:

  • Dean Wampler
  • Matt Segvich
  • Dave Hoover
  • Joseph Leddy
  • Jake Scruggs
  • Robert Martin
  • Micah Martin
  • Paul Pagel
  • Brian Marick
  • Eric Smith
  • Doug Bradbury
  • Jim Suchy
  • Craig Demyanovich
  • Raymond Hightower
  • Corey Haines
  • David Chelimsky
  • Scott Pfister
  • Eric Meyer
  • Denny Abraham
  • Matt Blodgett
  • Zach Dennis
  • John Hwang
  • Mark Van Holstyn
  • Scott Roth