Stack OverflowWhat is a less pleasing sounding name for the waterfall process?
[+11] [21] MatthewMartin
[2009-07-13 12:45:49]
[ process waterfall ]

I'm in a big organization that likes waterfall processes and need to help discourage its use at least on my project. It would be helpful if the name was more ugly, jarring and not as pretty as a waterfall, a forest or sunset.

Any suggestions?

(11) should be community wiki - community_owned
(2) Unless we are going to have a separate site for development methodologies rather than coding issues, this belongs here IMHO. - David M
(1) As in shouldn't be closed - agree also with Neil's statement. - David M
True, however I'm all for it being a community wiki. - AlbertoPL
A rose by any other name.... - Hardwareguy
+1 for asking a ballsy question sir. - Cameron MacFarland
(10) Coming up with an ugly name for an existing process so as to achieve that it's not applied for you is unprofessional. Write down why it can't work specifically for your project, be clear, and convince management. If you don't make it, maybe you're wrong or not good at explaining your reasons. - Daniel Daranas
(1) @Daniel - I don't know about that. Like it or not, corporate politics is very much part of software development, and methodologies most assuredly are. So the question is, if you let others frame the debate for you, and you lose, is that professional? - T.E.D.
Notice that making something a wiki won't make the distracting meta-discussion go away. - MatthewMartin
why is it a meta-discussion? - skaffman
@skaffman Meta-discussion is discussion about the discussion, as opposed to talking about software process. It's like injecting an essay about dictionary crafting into a the entry for "spork (n.)" in the Oxford English Dictionary, about if the word should be included or not. - MatthewMartin
(1) Attempting to blur something to hide the fact just appears to be dishonest and unprofessional, and honestly the intention seems to be rather manipulative, attempting to force a decision... Call it what it is and settle with the decision made, thats your job. - Ian
[+17] [2009-07-13 12:48:24] Paul Dixon


Think Niagra - in a barrel ! - Martin Beckett
Niagara--three As - emddudley
[+13] [2009-07-13 12:49:29] Williham Totland

Avalanche? Landslide?

(2) Upvote was for Landslide. - David
+1 for Landslide :-) - ninesided
(4) The Pyroclastic Flow Programming Model? - JeeBee
@JeeBee: I was thinking of that, but could not for the life of me remember the name of the phenomena (or so I thought. Stupid spell checker. :/) - Williham Totland
(2) MudSlide sounds better. - Joel Coehoorn
Nah, that's a rather nice cocktail - skaffman
[+13] [2009-07-13 12:48:20] skaffman [ACCEPTED]

You should be able to get some ideas from this:

After years of being disparaged by some in the software development community, the waterfall process is back with a vengeance. You've always known a good waterfall-based process is the right way to develop software projects. Come to the Waterfall 2006 conference and see how a sequential development process can benefit your next project. Learn how slow, deliberate handoffs (with signatures!) between groups can slow the rate of change on any project so that development teams have more time to spend on anticipating user needs through big, upfront design.

An example would be "Glacial Methodology"

(6) "User Interaction: It Was Hard to Build, It Should Be Hard to Use." Thank you for that, skaffman :) - Jeff Sternal
That page is absolute genius. I printed it out and pinned it to the wall as a warning to all. The scary thing is, I don't think the project managers got the joke. - skaffman
"Dead Fish Can't Swim But They Can Float Down a Waterfall" - skaffman
We came up with the same answer, which in my book means you require an upvote. :-) - T.E.D.
My personal favorite is: "Pair Managing: Two Managers per Programmer" - T.E.D.
[+7] [2009-07-13 12:50:27] AlbertoPL

Instead, why not just draw a picture of a REAL waterfall?

You start at the top, and the project simply crashes into a mess at the bottom.

(2) The process being represented by a barrel. At the bottom the broken barrel and the strewn remains across the rocks of the poor sod that tried to ride the barrel down the waterfall... - Colin Mackay
[+4] [2009-07-13 12:51:14] Jonathan Deamer

While I agree that people won't really be hugely influenced by the name if they're already aware of the process behind it, something a bit more functional and less poetic like "sequential stage development" makes it sound less attractive.

See also: Big Design Up Front [1]


[+4] [2009-07-13 12:48:59] Graham

How about non-Agile?

[+3] [2009-07-13 12:50:09] tvanfosson

How about avalanche? or landslide? What starts as a few snowflakes or rocks at the top eventually crashes down destroying everything in its path. Or by what its likely ending will be: the infamous Death March.

Here's an interesting bit of trivia from Wikipedia [1] (emphasis mine):

The first formal description of the waterfall model is often cited to be an article published in 1970 by Winston W. Royce (1929–1995), although Royce did not use the term "waterfall" in this article. Ironically, Royce was presenting this model as an example of a flawed, non-working model (Royce 1970). This is in fact the way the term has generally been used in writing about software development—as a way to criticize a commonly used software practice.


[+3] [2009-07-13 12:50:27] James Black

Rather than trying to make the waterfall model be less pleasing sounding, why not find a process that you want to use and make it sound like a better option.

For example, XP could be a customer-driven model.

[+3] [2009-07-13 12:57:59] Jim Ferrans

The most pejorative term I've heard used in serious software engineering literature is big bang delivery. The connotation is that the pure waterfall model results in a single massive, all-or-nothing integration and delivery of everything at the end of the process. This contrasts with evolutionary/incremental delivery, the goal of agile methodologies. Incremental delivery is far less risky, and far more likely to meet customer needs.

Software Projects: Evolutionary vs. Big-Bang Delivery [1] (1997) is an example pairing of these terms.


[+3] [2009-07-13 13:02:37] Nat

The Outflow Process.


The Discharge Process.

[+2] [2009-07-13 12:54:46] akf

You could use No Looking Back to emphasize the sequential nature of Waterfall and the inability to revise in an iterative approach. Just start calling it NLB until people ask what you are on about.

Or No Going Back. - Robert Gowland
[+2] [2009-07-13 12:54:15] Bill the Lizard

The "WaterFlawed" Model? Just make sure they're aware that the model was originally presented as a flawed, non-working model (by Royce [1]).


[+2] [2009-07-13 12:47:39] John Saunders

Our suggestions won't really matter. The people using the process probably know it by the name "waterfall", which has been in common use for some time.

If I thought it would matter, I'd suggest something like sewerage outflow. Or lemmings, you could mention lemmings.

[+2] [2009-07-13 12:48:04] community_owned

The "plummeting screaming to your doom" process?

[+1] [2009-07-13 12:54:44] David M

There's an excellent diagram in Steve McConnell's Rapid Development that shows fish trying to swim back up a waterfall to emphasise the problem of embracing change in a methodology like this. Worth using in any such presentation!

[+1] [2009-07-13 12:54:59] bmoeskau

"Death march"

Isn't that the truth. - orbfish
[+1] [2009-07-13 12:56:30] User

Waterfall uncovered: You plan, design and develop you software, then on day X you turn it on and all the shit hits the fan.....

[+1] [2009-07-13 12:59:27] geowa4

Be careful. A waterfall-like process may fit your team. It is not a good idea to force people to behave differently than they do naturally. Methodologies related to the waterfall are great for big corporations with a large code base or the inexperienced, for example. Agile is better suited to those who can move quickly and precisely. Unless you are noticing problems with the company losing money because it can't release quickly or often enough, then maybe staying with a similar process is enough.

See this article by Boehm [1].


[+1] [2009-07-13 13:58:04] Jared

I suggest "Brick Wall". The waterfall process was originally described to me as if all teams are separated from each other by tall brick walls. When a team is done working on a project they heave the results over one of the walls to another team which then proceeds to do the same.

[0] [2009-07-13 19:03:17] meade

How about 'Traditional waterfall' or Mainframe era Waterfall

Or "Legacy Waterfall" - emddudley
[0] [2009-07-13 12:49:51] Kirtan

Agile software development [1] is the in-thing these days. AFAIK, no one uses the Waterfall approach.


(1) If only it were true. In the US, the federal government mandates (but doesn't thoroughly enforce) agencies to use the SDLC process, which is essentially waterfall. - MatthewMartin
Ewwww. That's gross! - Kirtan
Keep on dreaming. Management where I work basically has the opposite opinion of what the agile principles are, believing that good software is made through extensive process, customer sign-offs on requirements before development, and avoiding change during development. - Joeri Sebrechts
@Joeri Customers have shown time and time again that they don't really know what they want until you show it to them. Forcing them to sign off on requirements early in the process is essentially forcing them to agree to a product that probably will not suit their needs in the end. - emddudley
@emddudley: you don't have to convince me, you have to convince the managements of the world. My point is that in lots of places process is still valued over working software. - Joeri Sebrechts