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From "Geir Magnusson Jr." <>
Subject Re: How do we win?
Date Tue, 17 Jul 2001 02:16:37 GMT
Brad Cox wrote:
> At 12:15 PM -0700 7/16/01, Jon Stevens wrote:
> >This is a perfect example of something I see all the time:
> >     If we don't write docs, people complain that there are no docs.
> >     If we write docs, people don't read them.
> >How do we win?
> Since you put it as a question, I'll respond to it as such. Politely,
> which is far from what I feel like doing.
> There is far more complex world than implied by such cartesian
> either-or choices. The answer to your question is to avoid such bogus
> choices altogether. The software industry is full of examples of
> software that delights users regardless of whether they read the docs
> or not. Apple, Microsoft and Adobe are particularly well-known
> examples of companies who do this well.

You are 100% right, but I would argue (being argumentative) that only 2
of the three you mention truely delight with real innovation. 

> If you want to win, deliver products that *delight* your users
> whether they read the manuals or not. Software that anticipates
> common mistakes and silently prevents them (via menus that only
> contain valid entries) or when that's not possible, describes the
> problem in the user's frame of reference (stack backtraces do not
> qualify).
> If you want to lose, write software that throws NullPointerExceptions
> or segfaults upon the slightest mistake (see mod_jk, Tomcat, and
> Velocity for great examples of this). Then blame the user on public
> listservs for not reading the manual.

You know, I don't think you made the 'slightest mistake'.  We haven't
heard about an NPE for a really long time now, and if we did, we'd fix
it in a heart beat.  I agree there is no excuse for an NPE. (I would be
surprised if every bit of code you write is NPE proof....)

I really wish you would stop waving that one example around like a
flag...  just tell us what you did, and we will fix it.  Or you can fix
it and send the patch.  

I would prefer to dicuss your ideas in an open constructive forum.  You
didn't approach this community with 'open' or 'constructive' as far as I
can tell.  I am probably wrong as I can jump to conclusions (see that
bit about immaturity and insufferable arrogance...:), but that's how I
read it.  And your responses only furthered that idea.  I saw the same
thing happen on tomcat-dev a while ago when  you brought JAWA up

>  Better yet, impugn their
> professional capabilities, even call assholes, threaten to throw them
> off the list for even questioning the developers' decision. And so
> forth. If you don't know what I'm talking about, see recent traffic
> on this list.

I was a major cause of that recent traffic.  And I will note that it was
my professional capabilities, my maturity, my dedication that were all
questioned.  Not once did I resort to name calling or insults.


Geir Magnusson Jr.                 
System and Software Consulting
Developing for the web?  See
You have a genius for suggesting things I've come a cropper with!

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