[prog] State of software engineering profession

Jimen Ching jching at flex.com
Mon Apr 14 00:41:52 EST 2003

On Sat, 13 Apr 2003, Jenn Vesperman wrote:
>On Sun, 2003-04-13 at 17:18, Jimen Ching wrote:
>> Cars aren't designed on an assembly line.  I don't see why the design
>> process of software needs to be different from the design of everything
>> else.  A software application is a system, just like products in every
>> other industry.  And there are a few 'visionaries' that design software
>> like everything else.  It's just that our industry doesn't do it that way.

>Forgive me, but I don't understand your premise. Once a car's rough
>design is made, a prototype is manufactured and tested. But the
>prototype cannot be burned to disk and have millions produced, and a
>prototype is never manufactured in assembly-line fashion.

Yes.  This is why I said 'Cars aren't designed on an assembly line.' This
is in response to Robert claiming that software is different from cars,
because software can not be designed on assembly lines.  My response was
to say that neither are cars designed on assembly lines.  Thus, software
and car design are done the same way.  Well, they can be done the same
way, because neither are designed on an assembly line.

I guess I went a round-about way of stating my point.  Which does make
things confusing at times.

>Once a software design is made, a prototype is manufactured and tested.
>Once the prototype is acceptable, a copy is burned to disk - in fact, a
>million copies are burned to disk.

Burning a million disks could be considered one step in the complete life
cycle of a product.  But I guess that's not what we're talking about.
So, no, burning disks is not considered part of the assembly-line of
software construction (implementation).

>When, in software, can the assembly line be used? Software IS design,
>down to finer and finer grain detail until finished.

I mentioned that our profession is not there yet.  Note, I do
differentiate the difference between design and implementation.  Design
can not be done on an assembl-line, see above.  But implementation could.
I've worked for a company that have software departments with specialized
programmers that only write code for a specific purpose.  I.e.  those who
write the GUI, those who write the networking code, those who write the
drivers.  This is a crude form of assembly-line software implementation.
Of course, each step in the assembly-line performs some minor design.  So
this can't be considered the same type of assembly-line construction as in
the car industry.  We're far from such a state.  But we're moving in that
direction, it seems.  But that's just one company I know of.  Though I
doubt that's the only company that is doing this.

Jimen Ching (WH6BRR)      jching at flex.com     wh6brr at uhm.ampr.org

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