Should we put up with software that doesn’t work?

Robert Dewar from AdaCore begins his Should we put up with software that doesn’t work? article with a statement:

We are used to software that dismally fails. What is surprising is that we accept this as reasonable. It is time to stand up and say we are not going to put up with this anymore. There is no excuse for junk software.

I could not agree more. It’s scary that the software business as a whole have managed to convince the world that it’s OK to deliver products that fail to function as advertized, and it’s even more scary that users have accepted this as normal. It’s a troubling development that buyers of software can expect less quality from expensive software than from cheap goods from other industries. Companies that manufacture and sell toasters are more liable in the world of 2011, than companies that manufacture million dollar software.

If software development is to be taken serious as both a science and a profession deserving of the term “engineering”, then we need to change our ways. A consequence of this change might be that the current model of selling boxed software will have to end. The constant need for new versions and features push the limits of our ability to produce quality products. If instead software is sold on a subscription basis or as a service, then stability and polish becomes more important than going from version 3 to 4.

But obviously this all starts with the user. As long as the users silently accepts the current state of affairs, nothing is going to change.

But luckily we have guys like Dewar, who are at least trying, even though it does seem like a pretty small candle in a very dark and giant room. The article is very much worth reading, especially if you’re in any way interested in software, which I suspect you are, since you’re here.

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