Dreaming of Control
Rosenberg’s Law: Software is easy to make, except when you want it to do something new. And then, of course, there is a corollary: The only software that’s worth making is software that does something new.
— Rosenberg, p. 268
I just finished reading “Dreaming in Code” with some mixed feelings. It was really good as a story book, but entertainment was pretty much all it had to offer. I had hoped a little more; new stimuli for improving project management, not just to confirm the average case. The book described a lot of “don’t do this”-stuff, but the “do this instead” was missing.
The bulk of the content was a well-written story about the early history of OSAF, and it’s project Chandler. While it was some easy reading, the project was yet another incident of unclear plans and execution. So it wasn’t that helpful, just (somewhat) entertaining.
The last third of the book was more interesting as there was listed some of the most accurate and interesting observations from the history of computer science and practice. Still, even if the quotes were very interesting reading, it didn’t educate much. Programming methodologies and technologies have advanced a lot in half a century, but, although some later developments are also described in the book, the main focus in the book was just in verifying the unfortunate state of an average software project with less-than-optimal practises.1
However, it was a very fine story book! A must read for managers and relatives, not so for programmers themselves.
Joel Spolsky was quoted several times, and I must include this quote here as it describes one of the most important aspects of my aspiration for being an entrepreneur in software product business:
Craftsmanship is, of course, incredibly expensive. The only way you can afford it is when you are developing software for a mass audience. Sorry, but internal HR applications developed at insurance companies are never going to reach this level of craftsmanship because there simply aren’t enough users to spread the extra cost out. For a shrinkwrapped software company, though, this level of craftsmanship is precisely what delights users and provides longstanding competitive advantage, so I’ll take the time and do it right.
— in ‘Craftsmanship’
(Delivery as shrink-wrapped is essentially the same as delivery as a service.)
PS. a three-page excerpt of the book available here.