Open source, Microsoft models both wrong, Simonyi said

Turns out open source and Microsoft have more in common than thought: both have it wrong, one prominent software developer claimed at MIT’s Emerging Technologies conference.

Turns out open source and Microsoft have more in common than thought: both have it wrong, one prominent software developer claimed at MIT’s Emerging Technologies conference.

Charles Simonyi, the Hungarian-born developer of Microsoft Word who later became a pilot, cosmonaut and co-founder of Intentional Software, said modern software developers – whether they are programming under open source or proprietary models of development – focus too much on the end result and too little on refining the process of development.

Using scrambled eggs as a metaphor for a finished software application, Simonyi said the current crop of developers tinker too much, almost in "obsessive compulsive" fashion, on tweaking and rearranging applications to fix or improve them, instead of finetuning the process by which they are created.

Simonyi was on hand to discuss the problems of modern software development and described his company’s intentional software process and workbench technology during his keynote at the conference on Wednesday.

Following his keynote, one attendee asked if he saw any commonality between open source programming and Intentional's paradigm, which seeks to mix, integrate and properly embed the intentions of business domain experts with programmers in the coding process.

Simonyi said he did not, and added that he thought the two current paradigms have more in common with eachother than with his paradigm.

“I have great respect for the open source community and what they managed to accomplish but what I’m focusing on is the technical details about how to write a program from a technical sense. The social problems of writing a program are quite a lot different,” Simonyi said. “I am not an expert in [social aspects of programming] but I will say that open source people, like Microsoft, which is not open source, are all working on scrambled eggs.”

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