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Slashdot: Making Software Suck Less

Jan 23, 2001, 22:49 (0 Talkback[s])

"That much software sucks -- perhaps most of it -- is hard to dispute. Except for the simplest programs, it seems like the price of complexity is a tendency to failure. Commands don't work, user interfaces are neglected to the point of ruin, and components of even the same piece of software often clash with each other. And once you start combining them and try to use more than one application at once, sometimes the best you can hope for is an operating system that neatly segregates the problems so that your word processor doesn't take down your web browser, your IDE or your e-mail client. At least those are desktop applications for individual users, though -- the trouble compounds briskly when the common faults of software manifest in multiuser environments, where one machine going down means a wasted time and frustration for a lot of people at once...."

"Once upon a time, a prominent writer and programmer rose to declare "I want software that doesn't suck!" He then explained that certain successful free software projects have similar development features that contribute to software quality. Most of us aren't gifted with the organizational clarity of a Linus, or the brilliant non-orthogonal design of a Larry."

"There's hope, though. Improving the ways in which we produce software can dramatically improve the software itself. Extreme Programming suggests that simple habits, acting in concert, produce extremely powerful results. By adapting these techniques to the unique world of free software, we can improve the quality of our programs. We start by restating some common truths about free software development."

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