Philip Su thinks Vista is the largest software project in the world and maybe the longest. However, Jim Coplien was in my Copenhagen ScrumMaster training last week and pointed out that he delivered weekly releases into a 100 million line code base deployed worldwide by ATT so that was at least twice as large as Vista. Jim also wrote a case study of the Borland Quattro project that was the inspiration for the Scrum Daily Meeting while he was at ATT. It was interesting to dive into the details of that project, but I digress. Here's Peter:
Scrum, Lies, and Red Tape by Peter Krantz
Philip Su from Microsoft gives us a glimpse of the inner workings of one of the most complex software projects in the world. It is interesting to see that the same problems that sometimes plague small waterfall projects (lies, red tape) exist in an organization that have put a lot of effort into their development methodology... Didn’t Microsoft adopt Scrum a year go? Maybe they skipped the part about transparency.
Vista. The term stirs the imagination to conceive of beautiful possibilities just around the corner. And “just around the corner” is what Windows Vista has been, and has remained, for the past two years. In this time, Vista has suffered a series of high-profile delays, including most recently the announcement that it would be delayed until 2007. The largest software project in mankind’s history now threatens to also be the longest...
Let's see if, quantitatively, there's any truth to the perception that the code velocity (net lines shipped per developer-year) of Windows has slowed, or is slow relative to the industry. Vista is said to have over 50 million lines of code, whereas XP was said to have around 40 million. There are about two thousand software developers in Windows today. Assuming there are 5 years between when XP shipped and when Vista ships, those quick on the draw with calculators will discover that, on average, the typical Windows developer has produced one thousand new lines of shipped code per year during Vista. Only a thousand lines a year. (Yes, developers don't just write new code, they also fix old code. Yes, some of those Windows developers were partly busy shipping 64-bit XP. Yes, many of them also worked on hotfixes. Work with me here.)
Lest those of you who wrote 5,000 lines of code last weekend pass a kidney stone at the thought of Windows developers writing only a thousand lines of code a year, realize that the average software developer in the US only produces around (brace yourself) 6200 lines a year. So Windows is in bad shape -- but only by a constant, not by an order of magnitude. And if it makes you feel any better, realize that the average US developer has fallen in KLOC productivity since 1999, when they produced about 9000 lines a year. So Windows isn't alone in this.