What is the Agile Manifesto?

The Agile Manifesto is a brief document built on 4 values and 12 principles for agile software development. The document has been published online and for public use and has been translated in countless different languages.

History of the Agile Manifesto

In February 2001, 17 software development practitioners gathered at a ski resort in Utah. They were there to ski. They were there to relax. And, they were there to eat and drink. But most importantly, they were there to lament, pontificate, and solve problems.

Despite having widely varying opinions on the right way to approach software development, the crew agreed on at least one thing: the status quo was not working. There was increasing need for an alternative to documentation-driven and heavyweight software development processes.

The group named themselves “The Agile Alliance.” Out of their gathering in Utah that winter came The Agile Manifesto, a brief document built on 4 values and 12 principles for agile software development.

It’s important to note that agile in itself wasn’t born then. Its creators, and many other software development practitioners, had long been applying various agile values and principles piecemeal. But The Agile Manifesto made concrete the ideas that had been permeating the software development world for the last decade or so.

Who Created the Agile Manifesto?

As stated above, software practitioners from various backgrounds gathered to form the Agile Alliance who created The Agile Manifesto. But who exactly were they? Here’s who signed the original Agile Manifesto back in 2001:

What does The Agile Manifesto Say?

The Agile Manifesto outlines a set of 4 values and 12 principles for agile software development.

The 4 Agile Values

The agile mentality has 4 overarching values differentiating it from traditional software development processes.

“Through this work we have come to value:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

Working software over comprehensive documentation

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Responding to change over following a plan”

For more information about the 4 values of agile software development, read our overview of the 4 agile values.

The 12 Agile Principles

In addition to its 4 values, The Agile Manifesto also outlines 12 principles for agile development practices. These 12 principles emphasize things like “early and continuous delivery of valuable software” and “continuous attention to technical excellence.” Ready for more? Read our full overview of the 12 agile principles.

Agile is a Mentality

While the 12 agile principles and 4 values for agile provide useful guidance for those hoping to practice agile software development, they are not prescriptive.

The Agile Manifesto does not outline any specific processes, procedures, or best practices for agile. And that is intentional. The creators did not set out to develop a rigid framework or methodology. Instead, they created a philosophical mindset for software development.