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Kent Beck

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Kent Beck
Born1961 (age 62–63)
CitizenshipUnited States
Alma materUniversity of Oregon
Known forExtreme programming, Software design patterns, JUnit
Scientific career
FieldsSoftware engineering
Kent Beck speaking in 2001

Kent Beck (born 1961) is an American software engineer and the creator of extreme programming,[1] a software development methodology that eschews rigid formal specification for a collaborative and iterative design process. Beck was one of the 17 original signatories of the Agile Manifesto,[1] the founding document for agile software development. Extreme and Agile methods are closely associated with Test-Driven Development (TDD), of which Beck is perhaps the leading proponent.

Beck pioneered software design patterns, as well as the commercial application of Smalltalk. He wrote the SUnit unit testing framework for Smalltalk, which spawned the xUnit series of frameworks, notably JUnit for Java, which Beck wrote with Erich Gamma. Beck popularized CRC cards with Ward Cunningham, the inventor of the wiki.

He lives in San Francisco, California and previously worked at Facebook.[2] In 2019, Beck joined Gusto as a software fellow and coach, where he coaches engineering teams as they build out payroll systems for small businesses.[3]



Beck attended the University of Oregon between 1979 and 1987, receiving B.S. and M.S. degrees in computer and information science.[4]

In 1996 Beck was hired to work on the Chrysler Comprehensive Compensation System. Beck in turn brought in Ron Jeffries. In March 1996 the development team estimated the system would be ready to go into production around one year later. In 1997 the development team adopted a way of working which is now formalized as extreme programming.[5] The one-year delivery target was nearly achieved, with actual delivery being only a couple of months late. Currently on Facebook with over 1 thousand followers.




  • 1996. Kent Beck's Guide to Better Smalltalk : A Sorted Collection. Cambridge University Press. (ISBN 978-0521644372)
  • 1997. Smalltalk Best Practice Patterns. Prentice Hall. (ISBN 978-0134769042)
  • 2000. Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change. Addison-Wesley. Winner of the Jolt Productivity Award. (ISBN 978-0321278654)
  • 2000. Planning Extreme Programming. With Martin Fowler. Addison-Wesley. (ISBN 978-0201710915)
  • 2002. Test-Driven Development by Example. Addison-Wesley. Winner of the Jolt Productivity Award. (ISBN 978-0321146533)
    Beck's concept of test-driven development centers on two basic rules:
    1. Never write a single line of code unless you have a failing automated test.
    2. Eliminate duplication.

The book illustrates the use of unit testing as part of the methodology, including examples in Java and Python. One section includes using test-driven development to develop a unit testing framework.

Selected papers



  1. ^ a b "Extreme Programming", Computerworld (online), 2005, webpage: Computerworld-appdev-92.
  2. ^ "Given my newly independent status after seven years at Facebook..."
  3. ^ "Meet the influential programmer who's helping $3.8 billion Gusto make sure that its software always stays ahead of the times". Business Insider. September 4, 2019.
  4. ^ Beck, Kent. "Kent Beck". LinkedIn. Retrieved March 5, 2012.
  5. ^ Highsmith, Jim, ed. (February 18, 2024). Agile Software Development Ecosystems. Addison-Wesley Professional. p. 298. ISBN 978-0-201-76043-9.