Agile software development is a conceptual framework for undertaking software engineering projects.
There are a number of agile software development methods, such as those espoused by The Agile Alliance. Most agile methods attempt to minimize risk by developing software in short timeboxes, called iterations, which typically last one to four weeks. Each iteration is like a miniature software project of its own and includes all of the tasks necessary to release the mini-increment of new functionality: planning, requirements analysis, design, coding, testing, and documentation. While an iteration may not add enough functionality to warrant releasing the product, an agile software project intends to be capable of releasing new software at the end of every iteration. At the end of each iteration, the team reevaluates project priorities.
Agile methods emphasize real-time communication, preferably face-to-face, over written documents. Most agile teams are located in a bullpen and include all the people necessary to finish software. At a minimum, this includes programmers and their "customers" (customers are the people who define the product; they may be product managers, business analysts, or actual customers). The bullpen may also include testers, interaction designers, technical writers, and managers.
Agile methods also emphasize working software as the primary measure of progress. Combined with the preference for face-to-face communication, agile methods produce very little written documentation relative to other methods. This has resulted in criticism of agile methods as being undisciplined.