Subject: Re: Kent Beck's talk
From: "Forrest J. Cavalier III" <mibsoft@mibsoftware.com>
Date: Wed, 04 Aug 2004 16:20:47 -0400

Adam Turoff wrote:
> The most important point I got from the talk was that something is
> _fundementally_ wrong here.  It could be reality, our model of reality,
> or Kent's grip on reality.  Personally, I think Kent is on to something.
> Fifteen years ago, if you built a better lint, programmers would be
> happy to pay an hour's wages for the tool, enough so that you could make
> a living and work on it full time for years to come.  

Bah! Humbug! Our memories of the "good old days" (fifteen years ago)
have to match reality too.

Programmers then, and now, would never create much sales opportunity for 
QA tools.  Sure there are fanatics, but they are far and few between.
(And if you don't believe me, ask yourself why -Wall is an option to 
gcc, and not the default?)

I might point out that Richard Stallman was around fifteen years ago,
and his stories indicate that it was nearly impossible to make a living
writing Free software then too.  (I hold Mr. Stallman was and is
definitely an entrepreneur but working on a totally different way of
measuring value of activities.)

But I don't think your point was about the specific example you chose.

I was not at the talk, but based on the summaries reported to this list,
I would identify Mr. Beck's fundamental break with reality as
thinking he has a "product" but failing to understand that "product"
means "sellable" means the customer gets a clear benefit by
purchasing it.

Partial solutions may be a product, but the rest of the solution must be
valuable and available to the customer, and it must be at reasonable
cost.

It is fun to think of potential uses for software we write as sellable.
It is fun to think of FUTURE improvements to software as a selling
point.  It is exciting to think that the ability to modify software is 
conferred by an open source license.

Sure, it is fun.  But that isn't business, because....

    1. Only sophisticated customers could make use of partial solutions,
       .... but most sophisticated customers can do it themselves.

    2. Promises of future improvements in the software world are 99.99%
       vaporware, so they are never convincing selling points.

    3. A license to modify software confers legal permission, not a
       technical ability.   Permission to do something you have no
       way of doing is not valuable.