CHAT: software quality (was: SIL Toolbox and IPA Unicode 1.0)
|From:||Mark P. Line <mark@...>|
|Date:||Thursday, September 2, 2004, 17:53|
Philippe Caquant said:
> This is the topic of a (supposed) science called
> "ergonomy". This is exactly the thing that a real,
> pure, smart, clever, computer specialist doesn't want
> to hear about.
I don't see the need for such hyperbole.
I think you're trying to ask the perfectly reasonable question, "Why does
not every software development project enforce strict ergonomic quality
requirements on their product?"
Looking back on about 30 years of software development and its management,
I think your question has a pretty straightforward answer in the sense
that the obvious answer is the correct one:
(a) every software development project reduces more or less to a network
of trade-offs among time, money and quality;
(b) money is institutionalized in an objective accounting system going
back to the Medicis;
(c) time is institutionalized in an objective accounting system going back
to late 19th century "scientific management";
(d) there is no institutionalized objective accounting system in place for
software quality or development process quality;
(e) quality doesn't sell software, marketing sells software;
(f) the more software you can market, the more you can sell, regardless of
quality; and therefore
(g) the success of software development teams is generally measured in
terms of the existing accounting systems (time and money) -- typically at
the expense of product and/or process quality, when trade-offs lead to a
A case could be made (by somebody other than me, though I wouldn't
necessarily disagree) that the Open Source movement is at least partially
an attempt to refocus the software industry on quality at the expense of
time and money. (Think of the opportunity cost of SourceForge volunteer
work, for example.)
> The computer specialists are, as a rule, unbearably
> satisfied of themselves and their tools.
I guess that depends on how broadly you choose to define "computer
specialists". In my book, software requirements engineers, software
quality engineers and software ergonomists are computer specialists who
are seldom satisfied with the state of the art (and often enough
dissatisfied with the final product they're forced to confront).