[prog] State of software engineering profession

Robert J. Hansen rjh at sixdemonbag.org
Mon Apr 14 19:03:10 EST 2003

>  - your prototype kind of mostly works, so management ships it, or wants
>    to, and *also* get exceedingly angry whenever they discover a bug in
>    your "final product".

Major pet peeve: when management thinks "prototype" means "this is
within epsilon of the finished product".

"Prototype" is engineer-speak for "works enough that we can really begin
to play around with it to make the final product better".  I've never
seen a prototype which I didn't want to tinker around with--sometimes
minor changes, and sometimes "oh, well, that design doesn't work too
well, I'll rip it out and put in a new one".  A prototype is meant to be
messed around with, broken, rebuilt, and then you use the lessons from
the prototype to build the final product.

My pet peeve is when Management sees your prototype and assumes:

	* There's a prototype, so the product is mostly done
	* The finished product will look/act like the prototype
	* The prototype needs to be protected from non-critical changes
	* The prototype works 95%, so it'll be done soon

... the list goes on and on.

I love prototypes.  I hate when Management sees them.

>  - your manager wants to see the work you've done every day, and
>    designs, and especially refactoring, testing and bug fixing, simply
>    do not look like progress to your manager.

Especially when your day's been spent in pointless meetings, rah-rah
corporate pep rallies (my <sarcasm level=withering>favorite</sarcasm>
slogan: "We do the right thing because it's the right thing to do"),
navigating six layers of bureaucratic hell to get the Ethernet jack in
your cube working, or--worst--getting trapped in email hell, where
everybody and their grandmother thinks that if they send you an email at
9am, they'd better have a response by 9:05am...

Robert J. Hansen <rjh at sixdemonbag.org>

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