Keeping things simple

Software engineering is bad engineering

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This a common phrase that is used in reference to software in general. I have heard it from my friends, customers and even co-workers all of which are often ignorant of the complexity and the amount of different factors that are involved in the execution of a software application. I’m especially amassed when my programing colleagues criticize some software with no objective reason and fully knowing that their own software is as equally flawed. The very same question was raised on my new favorite programing Q&A site stackoverflow.

Bugs in software is something that we have to be aware will happen as long as there is software. Now most people that are not familiar with programing always ask why software can’t be bug free? That’s when I ask them if they have experienced something of the following:

  • Oil leak
  • Engine trouble
  • Leaky faucet
  • Wobbly chair
  • Squeaky doors
  • VCR eating the tape

Off course the answer is yes, we have all experienced some of this if not all and this are the equivalent of software bugs. Oil is not meant to leak from your car – bug, chairs are not meant to be wobbly – bug. In short my answer is no we can’t have bug free software because nothing around us is bug free even not ourselves we can only try to keep bugs down to the minimum.

You are not meant to be sick but you still are is that a bug in you immune system or was it caused by something else out of your body’s control? Strange question you might think but what it comes down to is that our body starts to malfunction because something that is out of the body’s control has influenced it and disrupted the normal way of functioning same apply’s to software.

Software developers constantly combat the external influences on their applications be it human input, operating environment, incompatible software or whatever other external source of influence. This all invites so many variables and possibilities in an already highly complex system that is being developed by humans and is thus by default faulty. When developing software you have to take into account different hardware and software combinations on which your software is supposed to run, users that are supposed to use it and when you factor all of that in you get massive number of possibilities. Now as I see it most applications today are quite stable for what & where they are meant to run.

Software engineers are trying to combat all of those possibilities and the bugs that arise from such a number of different scenarios and so far we have seen with each new release of software that they are managing to decrease the number of bugs rapidly and are producing really quality code.

Anybody remember Windows 95? šŸ™‚

Written by Luka Ferlež

December 14, 2008 at 1:03

Posted in Programing

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