Engineering I.E. Quality

James Richard Tyrer tyrerj at
Thu Apr 8 03:34:55 CEST 2004

Christian Loose wrote:
> Am Mittwoch, 7. April 2004 23:08 schrieb James Richard Tyrer: [snip -> 
> software engineering]
>> With this attitude prevalent among developers, it is going to be us 
>> against them, and I don't want any more of that.

> Hi,
> I think you are forgetting a few thinks:
> 1. not all of us have a computer science degree

I am quite aware of that.  It doesn't matter.  Engineering still works the
same way.  My point was that engineering is NOT what some people that seem
to have a reason to denigrate it say it is.  They are defending the hacker
culture by denigrating engineering.

> 2. some of us aren't even trained software developers

Doesn't matter.  Bill Gates is a self taught hacker.

But this suggestion is even more important for those that are not yet
highly skilled: 'design first, build second'.

> 3. some of us just started to program in C++

Since I am one of those, I have not forgotten.

> 4. most of us do this in our free-time. So you could try to convince 
> people that drawing an UML diagram before starting to program is fun and
>  fruitful,

I am not talking about designing the code before it is written.  I leave
programing methods to the programmer.  I don't usually draw such diagrams.
  I am talking about designing the application before it is coded.  I am not
suggesting any method to to this.  Any ad hoc methods would work.

> but telling people that they have an attitude is offensive.

The word 'attitude' is not supposed to be a pejorative term.  I am only 
saying from the perspective of utility that the attitude is not helpful.  I 
could say more, but this is just descriptive: the attitude appears to be a 
rationalization to defend the status quo.

> Especially on this mailing-list where many new contributers are 
> listening and might be scared away by this kind of talking.

Well you could make that fallacious argument about anything that anybody
said that suggested any improvement.  In this case it is only the
developers that have self appointed themselves to the position of High 
Coder Priest that might take offense.  But, you you have it backwards.  It 
is the High Coder Priests that have been saying things that are truly 
offensive and you are saying that I shouldn't take exception to it when 
they have said offensive things to me.  All that I said about it was that I 
didn't want anymore of it.

The question remains about what to do when the developers refuse to fix a
bug.  I have been told that the thing to do was to fix it myself and submit
that patch.  It appears to me that in some cases this is disingenuous.  The
previous time that I said OK, I will fix it myself, personal insults were

This is just the territorial imperative.  It was his app and he didn't want
anybody else fixing a bug in it.

The latest is less clear:

Note that I filed this bug not for myself but based on questions I had
tried to answer on the support lists.  Also note that it was closed as
WONTFIX after less than three hours.  I have great respect for Waldo, so I
am very puzzled as to why he would do that.

An older one is:

Various comments there are interesting.  Note that the problem is
denigrated and that the bug was closed and KDE-3.2.0 was released before it
was completely fixed.  Since it was a regression, it should have been a

There *is* a problem (with the attitude of developers both towards bugs and
other KDE contributors).  I don't want any more of it so I am not going to
report any more bugs.  It isn't worth the aggravation.

> 5. your bridge metaphor is flawed. You design the bridge before building
>  it because a mistake is catastrophic because of possible lost of human 
> lives and for monetary reasons. Our programming time just costs our 
> free-time but no money or lives. So throwing away our code because of a 
> bad design is annoying but not prohibitive unlike e.g. in commercial 
> companies.

No, the bridge analogy is not flawed.  Defective software has killed
people.  Your flawed reasoning is that because there is a difference of
*degree* that the analogy isn't valid.  That is wrong.  You design the
bridge first because it is more efficient to do it that way and the end
product is better.  The same applies to software -- that fact that a poorly
designed bridge might have more serious negative consequences  doesn't
change that.  Also, you seem to have made assumptions about the size of the
bridge.  What if it is a 6 foot bridge over the (dry) creek in my Father's
front yard.

This seems to apply both to Sergio's denigration of engineering or your
comment about my bridge analogy:

When someone goes out of their way to say that someone is wrong rather than
making the same effort to understand what they meant, I have to question
their motivation.


More information about the kde-quality mailing list