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Software Editorial

Six Laws of the New Software 313

LordFoom writes "Still suffering from post-dotcom stress disorder, I keep my eye out for gentle balm to sooth my ravaged psyche. The manifestos at ChangeThis are not it. The most popular manifestos range from irritating to enlightening, with none of them particularly comforting. In particular the recent Six Laws of the New Software have done my dreams of writing lucrative code no good - although it has changed my idea of what money-making code is."
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Six Laws of the New Software

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  • by melted ( 227442 ) on Thursday February 03, 2005 @09:46PM (#11568763) Homepage
    There was a widespread belief among physicists that there's nothing more to discover in physics. They were wrong. This guy is also wrong.
  • by Dancin_Santa ( 265275 ) <> on Thursday February 03, 2005 @09:47PM (#11568773) Journal
    When developing a web browser, if a plug-in needs to be launched, don't let the plug-in's loading cause all other instances of the browser to lock up.

    I'm looking at you, Firefox.

    What's the deal with the PDF-format anyway? The document is 17 pages of Powerpoint-like slides. I'm sure some nice, simple HTML could have displayed that much more quickly. And not locked up Firefox for a minute.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 03, 2005 @09:53PM (#11568819)
    But seriously, I thought the dot com bust was actually a *good* thing for real programmers. It weeded out all those retards with a geology degree who were in it just for the cash. Granted, those who were actually good at coding made a lot more back in those days. But if you're actually talented then there is no reason you can't make what you want to make. Doesn't matter what the profession is.

    Anyways, what's the deal with the .pdf download? First off it's /.ed, second... isn't that what the webpage is there for in the first place?

  • by cmowire ( 254489 ) on Thursday February 03, 2005 @09:53PM (#11568821) Homepage
    Disable the acrobat plugin.

    Not only does this prevent Firefox from freezing up obnoxiously, but it also means that you don't see the file until it's actually done loading. Progressive PDF's suck.
  • Respect your users (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MarkSwanson ( 648947 ) on Thursday February 03, 2005 @09:54PM (#11568830) Homepage
    By and large there is no need to demand your users trust you with full write access to their home directory, their ethernet device, and more. Consider writing your software in the Java Web Start sandbox.
  • Law 7 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DrKyle ( 818035 ) on Thursday February 03, 2005 @09:56PM (#11568837)
    All the good stuff has already been thought of, but not everyone knows they exist. Try to find really good ideas by looking back at least 10 years for a piece of software that never took off and has been abandoned and remarket it as the next big thing. Remember: Marketing people could sell blood to a turnip.
  • Writing vs Coding (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kiwidefunkt ( 855968 ) on Thursday February 03, 2005 @10:02PM (#11568872) Homepage
    It seems like some of these people spend more time writing about software than actually writing software...
  • by russellh ( 547685 ) on Thursday February 03, 2005 @10:33PM (#11569022) Homepage
    The geology, etc., majors I knew were awesome programmers. The morons I knew were computer science majors who were just in it for the money. I remember them in class. Most of my CS classes seemed to be full of them (1990-1994 - before the boom). I was shocked by this since I became a CS major out of a pure love of programming. the liberal arts and science people that I knew who were programmers had the true hacker ethic.
  • People are dumb (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 03, 2005 @11:02PM (#11569170)
    One good rule when writing software would be to assume people are profoundly retarded, thus maximising the possible market share of your software by making it really easy to use.
  • Re:In a nutshell (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Saeed al-Sahaf ( 665390 ) on Thursday February 03, 2005 @11:07PM (#11569192) Homepage
    You'll never be the next Microsoft thinking that way. Think big, have great unstoppable vision. Play to win, or give it up now.
  • manifesto? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by convolvatron ( 176505 ) on Thursday February 03, 2005 @11:10PM (#11569202)
    do the machinists create manifestos about their work? get over it, programming is mildly creative, but whole notion of paradigm-changing products is grossly overinflated. try doing something that has some obvious utility and dont try to ream people for it.
  • by alan_dershowitz ( 586542 ) on Thursday February 03, 2005 @11:10PM (#11569203)
    He was talking about the "Geology majors" who were in it for the cash, not the Geology majors who just plain loved programming. Given a choice between non-CS moneygrubbers and CS moneygrubbers, I'd rather have at least the formally trained moneygrubber.

    You could get hired without a degree, so a bunch of people ditched lower paying jobs to start programming by demonstrating basic skills. Compared to them, even the people who got a formal CS degree _for the money_ were better programmers than these other goofballs, primarily Visual Basic jockeys.

    Sorry if I offended any VB programmers out there...Most VB programmers aren't idiots, but most idiot programmers program in VB.
  • by Brian Brian ( 849676 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @12:08AM (#11569458) Journal
    Anyone proclaiming the end of anything has just demonstrated the limits of their mind.
  • by Leo McGarry ( 843676 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @01:12AM (#11569668)
    Also, your chair is too comfortable. Consider trading it in for a nice, hard piece of plywood supported by two cinderblocks.

    And it's too warm in your office. Consider turning off the heat.

    And it's too easy to type with all ten fingers intact. Consider breaking three. Any three. Doesn't matter.

    I bet there are a lot of other really good suggestions for people who are into massive amounts of pain.

    Of course, anybody who writes end-user applications in Java is also into inflicting massive amounts of pain. But that's another conversation.
  • Sorry, but... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 04, 2005 @01:31AM (#11569744)
    Anybody who uses "leverage" as a verb is not qualified to comment on the state of computer programming.
  • by CaptnMArk ( 9003 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @02:27AM (#11569930)
    PDF is good for printing.

    For screen it's total shit because the page doesn't resize appropriately like in a browser.
  • Re:In a nutshell (Score:2, Insightful)

    by clockwise_music ( 594832 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @02:35AM (#11569962) Homepage Journal
    I agree, this manifesto is too closed-minded. Saying "you are not going to be the next microsoft/SAP because you are too late" is completely wrong. Let's see how google goes in another 5 years.

    No-one says it is going to be easy, but with a bit of imagination anything can happen. Who the hell would have thought five years ago that google could beat yahoo et al? (Of course the day they write an OS that is better than XP, I'll eat my hat (luckily I don't have any))
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 04, 2005 @02:36AM (#11569969)
    Seriously folks, does anyone here think that they're going to get to be Bill Gates by whining and complaining about the market?

    If you want to make a living, or get rich for that matter, writing code... then you better have a decent idea and a great (and agressive) sales staff. Everything else is just about squeezing money from every turnip you can find. Your geek ethic doesn't lend well to this, which is why so many are under-employed right now.
  • by starfishsystems ( 834319 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @02:38AM (#11569976) Homepage
    to chain together many small commands to accomplish a single task very easily. I suspect there is some terminology for this process, but as I don't know what it is

    You're on to something here. The essential design principle is composability. Take Lego for example. You can make complex artifacts by assembling many existing elements together.

    A similar, but distinct, principle is extensibility. To continue with the Lego example, it allows you to invent a completely new element that extends the behavior of existing elements, a slider piece for example.

    Not to get totally pedantic, but let's have one more. The principle of modularity enables both of the above. Originally, it meant that you could replace any piece with a functionally identical substitute. But what makes it such an interesting principle is that there are different aspects of identity. Two 1x8 Legos might be replaced by a 2x4 and two 2x2s, and so on, and perhaps the substitution has different and desirable properties.

    The source of all modularity is the enabling principle of standardization. And here, if you care, is where open source comes into the picture. Because it's very hard for multiple parties to ever agree on a common standard if the candidate designs are all secret!

    So your intuition is right. There is something about Unix that gives it a fundamental advantage over proprietary alternatives. However, to debate between command line and GUI, or likewise to compare statistics on security incidents, is to focus on emergent symptoms. I get frustrated with these debates because they never really seem to converge on a clear answer.

    A clear answer does emerge when we look to deeper principles. These aren't just a matter of subjective preference, they are fundamental to the design of any complex artifact. Designs which express these principles are objectively superior to designs which don't. And I think that's worth remembering.

  • by Captain Kirk ( 148843 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @02:54AM (#11570028) Homepage Journal
    He says, correctly, that HTML is the standard for documents on the Web.

    He says stick to these standards.

    His own article is in a crappy PDF - possibly the lamest format possible for web articles.

    A case of "do as I say not as I do"
  • by knBIS ( 743731 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @03:21AM (#11570105)
    Why does a web browser need to be able to read pdf files??

    I never bothered installing the adobe software, and have firefox set up to open all pdf files in xpdf automatically... it works great!
    The document is opened a second or two after i click the link, and i never have to worry about my browser crashing..
  • Re:In a nutshell (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Master of Transhuman ( 597628 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @03:26AM (#11570116) Homepage
    "You're not gonna be the next Microsoft"

    Fuck him.

    Somebody has to be - why not me?

    Remember, Microsoft didn't exist thirty years ago - and will likely not exist thirty years from now...

    This is just the usual bullshit from people who can't deal with change.

    Total crap.

    Nothing to see here. Move along.

  • Hovno! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ZurichPrague ( 629877 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:02AM (#11570380)
    This was also said 15 years ago: go for vertical markets, nothing else is left. And it's good advice, unless you're ambitious. It's b*llsh*t to say all companies needs have been met. Look around you. It's called the "software crisis" for a reason. There is something huge waiting, lurking around the corner. Be there for it.
  • by iwan-nl ( 832236 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:18AM (#11570416) Homepage

    From TFA:

    HTML is a standard for the web. All software vendors who develop software that either views, displays or edits HTML comply with the standard, which means that content developed on Dreamweaver will not only be viewable on Internet Explorer but can also be reopened and reedited by Frontpage. Macromedia, who developed Dreamweaver, doesn't need to have ever tested on Microsoft's product, they both comply.

    The author is obviously lives in some parallel universe. I wish I could live there too. Not testing your html in *all* browsers is the most ignorant thing one could possibly do.

  • Re:In a nutshell (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Flaming Foobar ( 597181 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:19AM (#11570419)
    The question is, do you want to be the next microsoft.. especially with the deep shit they are now in?

    Do you mean the $3.400.000.000 profit they made in the last quarter of 2004?

  • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:54AM (#11570493) Journal
    The point isn't as much the degree. I think college didn't teach me too much that I didn't already knew, for example.

    The problems are (A) if you love programming, and (B) if you have the mental skills for it. At all. Yes, I've been through the "bah, programming is easy, everyone could do it if they wanted to" phase myself. Then you start to realize that things that are trivial and obvious to you, just aren't so for 90% of the rest of the people.

    For example, I've actually sat and watched someone painfully try every single of "*", "&" and nothing, on every single variable on a C program, until it stopped crashing. He just could never wrap his mind around the concept of a "pointer". Some 10 years later, AFAIK he _still_ can't. Made me realize that maybe it's not that trivial a concept as I assumed.

    And that's just one example. People just aren't built to, basically, think like a machine. They're hampered by natural language fuzziness, and by the human-to-human expectation that the other gets the basic idea and can work out the details for himself.

    And it only becomes worse when you deal with people who don't even intend to learn. They're in it just because they "deserve" to be paid a ton of money. And they're not gonna "waste" their time on such boring stuff as actually learning an algorithm, or even the basics of the language they're paid to program in.

    I've dealt with too many people whose _only_ interest is hanging around bored until the next paycheck, and their _only_ skill is marketting themselves to a clueless PHB. They can't program worth shit, and they don't even intend to learn more.

    And why would they? They get paid anyway. And in the unlikely case that the boss gets a clue and fires them, they'll just move on to another company to scam. There's one sucker born every minute, after all. Not hard to find another sucker who'll swallow a faked resume. Beats actually working and learning.

    And, yes, there are a _lot_ of clueless ex-burger-flippers who did just that. Moved into programming not even "just for the money", but "for _undeserved_ money."
  • by tedgyz ( 515156 ) * on Friday February 04, 2005 @09:25AM (#11571152) Homepage
    Progressive PDF's suck.

    No. ALL PDF's suck.

    Don't get me wrong, I wholly support a platform-neutral document format. What I don't support is a document reader that takes longer to load than my operating system. Nor do I support a document reader that insists on nagging me to install OTHER software for the benefit of a bloated software empire (the other one).

The road to ruin is always in good repair, and the travellers pay the expense of it. -- Josh Billings