Why software sucks: the podcast

Why software sucks: the podcast

Summary: What can you do about bad software? Tune into this podcast to hear David Platt, author of "Why Software Sucks" discuss the problem and some possible solutions.

TOPICS: Tech Industry

Last week, I posted an entry on why users put up with bad software and referenced David Platt's book "Why Software Sucks." The topic was top of mind because I'd just finished interviewing David for IT Conversations. If you're interested, I just published the podcast version of Why Software Sucks today. Here's the description:

What is the most important thing to the average computer user? They want their machine to "just work". Why does Google know how to correctly translate a United Parcel Service tracking number, while the actual UPS website requires multiple entries just to get to the point where the tracking number can be entered? Programmer David Platt is the author of "Why Software Sucks...and What You Can Do About It". He discusses his findings with Phil, Matt, and Scott.

Platt believes that much of the problem is related to poor design, with not enough consideration for the end user. For example, he considers open source to be software written for other programmers, of little interest to the typical computer user. He also believes that blaming a particular operating system does little to solve the problem. He talks about the number of programmers who drive cars with manual transmissions to better illustrate how different the programmer thinks compared to other people.

Tune in to hear David's examples and descriptions. He's really quite entertaining.

Topic: Tech Industry

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  • Especially in the open source world, sad to say

    At least large corporations have to have [i]some[/i] consideration for the consumer. After all, the consumer can decide not to buy their products, or buy a competitor's products instead, losing them some money.

    Open source, however, has none, since there is no money or other incentive involved. I'm seeing quite a few of them (the makers of GAIM come to mind) come out and say something to the effect of "this is only for us - be glad you have it at all." And people wonder why Linux isn't taking over the desktop.

    It's because, out of all the people who don't care about the consumers, the open source people care the least.
    • Right

      The one exception I can think of is Firefox. Somehow the Mozilla group has organized itself with a guiding vision, and has actually created something a user can figure out how to use.

      I agree with you. In general the open source community has no concept of what a user wants. They assume everyone who is involved is a programmer. So if anyone pipes up and says "I want X feature." They just turn it around and say, "Code talks! You write it." I've seen it before and I just shake my head in disbelief. I don't know if it's the same people, but I also have seen innumerable times the open source zealots show up in these forums and call desktop users "stupid" because they chose Windows over Linux. Talk about being detached from reality.

      It seems like the reality is that the only contributors to open source who have the user in mind are major corporations. They take the time to develop a guiding vision for a project that they contribute to. The rest of the so-called "volunteer force" are consultants, students, university faculty, or government workers. They contribute technical features to an open source project that they used to finish a custom project they got paid to do one way or another. They aren't given a budget to have a guiding vision. They're paid to set up a machine with some unique functionality or adapt the software to some hardware, just to throw out some examples. They contribute some of the code they created for their project back to the community, as a donation.

      True, there might be some people who donate code totally altruistically, with no profit motive, but I imagine most OSS developers are not in this camp, at least not anymore.

      Companies that use open source code in their commercial products are probably worth a look. They probably have a guiding vision that produces some consistency in their product. Dealing with them is easier for customers. This way they don't have to deal with the coders, and the chaos going on behind the scenes in the development project.
      Mark Miller