In my younger days I was a great fan of the animated TV series Rocky and Bullwinkle. Among my favorite characters were Dudley Do-Right and his arch-nemesis, Snidely Whiplash, so I have taken their names for an occasional series of posts about the art and practice of software developed using the Design-Until-it-Drops (DUD) mode; see On designing software: DUD, RERO and BLOAT.
Our first chronicle comes to us by way of lxer.com, which posted a link to a wonderful blog post The Windows Shutdown crapfest — “I spent a full year working on a feature which should’ve been designed, implemented and tested in a week.”
It’s well-written and very informative, and a great example of a software design process gone wrong. There is also a link to a a related post Joel on Software — Choices = Headaches.
Though the first story is about Microsoft’s DUD-ness, DUD-ness is not hard to find.
For example, I was once involved in an open-source project that failed. My own view is that it was due to DUD-ness, but others thought my RERO-ness was the problem.
And I’ve recently heard a couple of stories that suggest IBM is not immune. A friend recently mentioned that one of IBM’s Java-based middleware apps instantiates over 60,000 Java classes when it is first fired up. Another said that he had seen a case where every class that implemented a piece of business logic resulted in the creation of at least ten related classes.
And though I’ve never been involved in Sun’s JCP process, I expect there’s a healthy dose of DUD to be found there as well.
I will write additional posts as I hear of interesting DUD-nes and of course user suggestions for further postings are welcome.
Snide remarks are especially welcome.
1. One of the great pleasures of the series was the narration, which was provided by some of the well-known actors of the period: Hans Conreid did Snidely Whiplash; Edward Everett Horton was the narrator; Charles Ruggles was Aesop; and William Conrad, one of my favorite actors, was the voice of Dudley Do-Right.
One of the writers was Allan Burns. His most famous creation is the breakfast cereal character, Cap’n Crunch. “Cap’n Crunch” is known in computer circles as the nom-de-guerre of John Draper. I met Mr. Draper one day in the mid 1970’s while I was at Courant. He even offered to show me how to use a phone, though I declined. I realized some months later when I read the news of his arrest that I had made the right call.