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Is the Software Renaissance Ending?

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the da-vinci-code dept.

Software 171

An anonymous reader writes Writer and former software engineer Matt Gemmell adds his voice to the recent rumblings about writing code as a profession. Gemmell worries that the latest "software Renaissance," which was precipitated by the explosion of mobile devices, is drawing to a close. "Small shops are closing. Three-person companies are dropping back to sole proprietorships all over the place. Products are being acquired every week, usually just for their development teams, and then discarded. The implacable, crushing wheels of industry, slow to move because of their size, have at last arrived on the frontier. Our frontier, or at least yours now. I've relinquished my claim." He also pointed out the cumulative and intractable harm being done by software patents, walled-garden app stores, an increasingly crowded market, and race-to-the-bottom pricing. He says that while the available tools make it a fantastic time to develop software, actually being an independent developer may be less sustainable than ever.

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Slew of missing business applications (5, Interesting)

jbolden (176878) | about a month and a half ago | (#47462717)

There is a slew of missing applications for industry verticals where there is no race to the bottom. I don't see any evidence that the mobile world is even close to saturated. It may be that general audience horizontal applications aren't the best place for small teams but that isn't the end of the world. How many general purpose task managers and tower defense games do we need?

Re:Slew of missing business applications (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a month and a half ago | (#47462731)

There is a slew of missing applications for industry verticals where there is no race to the bottom.

Yeah, e.g., the software for the translation industry is an utter joke. Or a crapfest, whatever you prefer.

It may be that general audience horizontal applications aren't the best place for small teams

http://www.vpri.org/ [vpri.org] would probably disagree on that. :-)

Re:Slew of missing business applications (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47462815)

The industry does not want independent software developers. The industry wants teams of full-time employees.

Software suffers from the smartest cow problem (it only takes one cow to figure out how to open the gate in order for all the other cows to pass through). For example, once one company creates a really good word processor, we don't need ten more to compete with them. The result is total market dominance for the one who does it first (or markets it the best), and a tremendous incentive to lock their program up with patents to ensure that other companies can't just duplicate their work and compete with them.

All of this drives the industry to take the form of a few enormous major players with teams of (cheap) developers working for them, and a shared interest in keeping all independent developers (who could upset their market dominance) out of the industry.

Re:Slew of missing business applications (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47463221)

No. The software industry wants offshore dev houses or bottom-of-the barrel H-1Bs that are bottom of the barrel cheap, and can crank out code at a level where constant patching of their early beta quality app can keep the griping and one star reviews to a dull roar.

Want to know what sells... fix bugs or add features to already present stuff. For example, if some college student found and checked in a patch to OpenSSL, they likely would be hired somewhere.

The problem is the illusion of wealth. Instead of trying to work on infrastructure which will get props on the CV, people want that instant gratification of purchases and IAP content from writing yet another fleshlight app.

Another cow analogy, If you are on the beaten path, and there are cows around you, don't expect any fresh/sweet plants to nibble on. Jump the electric fence and find new territory. Yes, it might not be comfortable, but that is where the money is.

I can name 10 apps that may not be profitable, but extremely useful:

1: A GOOD pgp/gpg app. There are a lot of crappy ones, but none that have a consistant UI and take advantages of the phone itself to store secure data. iOS has protected files, and Android can use loopback mounts to secure data. No PGP/gpg app on either platform takes advantage of this for keyring security.

2: A program like USB Disk Pro on iOS which allows one to move files between cloud servers, work as a USB drive when connected, use WebDAV if you are using the same wireless segment as another computer, and offer FTP, samba, and NFS access. Pretty much a Rosetta Stone of file transfer protocols that would allow one to move data to the phone, then off to some cloud provider, optionally encrypting it with sturdy encryption (ideally OpenPGP packets.)

3: An office suite that can keep all files in an encrypted container regardless of what OS it is sitting on. That way, confidential data that this app holds can't spill out, even if the device has no PIN/password.

4: A client that can work with Splunk so one can write and push dashboard data which are securely (securely as in SSH-like application level encryption ontop of SSL) pushed to the device, so an admin can keep an eye on his machines when not in the office.

5: An open alternative to Citrix Xen Desktop and Citrix Receiver.

6: An Amazon Glacier client for archiving documents for the long haul. Not a proof of concept, but something full featured with encryption, and the ability to interrupt and resume uploads/downloads.

7: For Android, a way to sync music between a PC and the device. iTunes sucks, but it does a good job at keeping track of songs, and if I erase my phone, good at throwing back all music, perhaps even transcoding it (the noise floor of my vehicle is so high, 192k AAC files sound OK.)

8: A decent e-Book app that is completely vendor-neutral. Think Calibre, but for mobile devices. Bonus points for the ability to back up, sync, and restore the collection somewhere.

9: For Android, an app that uses device admin privs to auto-erase the device if it has not successfully gotten onto any network for a period of time. Blackberries have this, and what this does is prevent a thief from accessing data by just yanking the SIM card, as well as ensuring the device only has "x" amount of time while it is offline before it kills itself.

10: A studio quality mixer app and a hardware interface. That way, the phone or tablet can be used as a 4-track with good sound quality.

Re:Slew of missing business applications (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47463343)

I can name 10 apps that may not be profitable, but

Stopped reading there. Actually, I didn't, and I weep for the fact that I could have, because all 10 apps would be great. But not one will ever be written.

1. A GOOD pgp/gpg app can't be monetized by putting your email in NSA's cloud
2. Moving files between cloud servers doesn't make money for any one cloud provider.
3. That's a great idea! If you want cross-platform encryption, let's do it as a web app implemented entirely Javashit, and dependent upon six different frameworks, and it'll only work on Mozilla Australis 29.0 to 31.0 or Chrome 42.x, because browser-based cryI'm sorry, I was going to do all ten, but I can't go on, I'm laughing too hard at the pathetic pile of shit our industry has become

Re:Slew of missing business applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47463761)

yet another fleshlight app.

I'm intrigued - all this time I've been purchasing my fleshlights from online stores and hoping my neighbors cant identify the discrete packaging. Having one as an app would make traveling with it easier. Tell me more.

All joking aside - I think you've accidentally mentioned the type of app that WOULD sell. If someone out there makes a male masturbation app I'm pretty sure they'll make a killing.

I'm being very serious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47464379)

yet another fleshlight app

All joking aside - I think you've accidentally mentioned the type of app that WOULD sell. If someone out there makes a male masturbation app I'm pretty sure they'll make a killing

An app which combined male masturbation with fleshlight (not fl_a_shlight) out to outsell both any time of the day !

9. During huricane disaster = mega fail (2)

cheekyboy (598084) | about a month ago | (#47464951)

Yeah id like to see 1000000 phones die, on day 5 of a major weather event

Re:Slew of missing business applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47463235)

Your partially right, but then you jump right into an example that is easily commoditized. Enterprises pay a lot of money for systems and software (both COTS and custom) that solve real-world business problems that allow them to generate more revenue, reduce cost, or prevent waste (fraud, tax liability, delay). That type of software requires teams on developers. Using your cow metaphor, the smartest cows are expensive and rare but do the design/architecture/expert-level algorithm work, with herds of cheaper developers supporting them. If the ISV's and freelancers add value, they have great earning potential both in shorter term contract work and longer term investment/acquisition prospects with enterprise customers. Even if the enterprise software is open source, there's still a ton on opportunity in support contracts and consulting. There's little money in selling EULAs to consumers regardless of the platform/delivery (mobile, SAAS, desktop, etc) regardless of how good your idea is. In most cases the money can only be made by timing a sale well (if you get buzz) and getting out to let the bigger fish absorb the losses from your lack of a sustainable business model. That or outright fraud like Autonomy.

Re:Slew of missing business applications (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47463251)

The industry does not want independent software developers. The industry wants teams of full-time employees.

I believe you meant teams of cheap H1-Bs and offshore programmers in India & China.

Re:Slew of missing business applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47463389)

Software suffers from the smartest cow problem (it only takes one cow to figure out how to open the gate in order for all the other cows to pass through). For example, once one company creates a really good word processor, we don't need ten more to compete with them. The result is total market dominance for the one who does it first (or markets it the best), and a tremendous incentive to lock their program up with patents to ensure that other companies can't just duplicate their work and compete with them.

The smartest cow effect is intentional.

"GNU will remove operating system software from the realm of competition."
- Richard Stallman, GNU Manifesto, 1985

Re:Slew of missing business applications (1)

iMadeGhostzilla (1851560) | about a month and a half ago | (#47463535)

But there are endless gates to be open. And opening more gates leads to more gates still. Not all of them equally lucrative but that kind of thing always works itself out naturally.

Re:Slew of missing business applications (2)

westlake (615356) | about a month and a half ago | (#47463737)

once one company creates a really good word processor, we don't need ten more to compete with them. The result is total market dominance for the one who does it first (or markets it the best

Word Perfect had the perfect character-oriented word processor---

which it ported to every OS known to man with customized print drivers for every printer known to man.

But it stumbled badly when small business oriented operating systems --- Mac and Windows ---- began moving towards higher levels of abstraction. The GUI. The printer API ---

and stumbled again when trying to keep pace with the new and rapidly evolving concept of the integrated office suite.

Re:Slew of missing business applications (2)

ruir (2709173) | about a month and a half ago | (#47464109)

No, it didnt. Word Perfect excellent, I actually used it in DOS to write technical manuals. What really happened is other players used their dominant position to effectively lock them out of the market. Microsoft worked with the Apple teams to produce Microsoft for Mac. Windows was also shipped with buggy and/or incomplete APIs and then only Microsoft Office brought the additional functionalities/patches bundled with the product to ensure the competition could not write a stable/faster competitor. This not taking in account hidden/barely documented APIs and the bundling of other software.

Well that's not always a bad thing. (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about a month and a half ago | (#47463767)

The idea that a tiny team can always make something amazing isn't true. Big projects often need big teams. The model shouldn't be "all tiny shops, all the time." You wanna do a tiny shop, go for it. Just know there are things you can't compete in.

Also it is a waste of resources to have people keep creating the same thing over and over. We should want to see 100 groups creating 100 word processors. If you can legitimately make one that would be an advantage for some reason then great, go to it, but don't do it just to "have another one."

Re:Well that's not always a bad thing. (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | about a month ago | (#47464775)

Well, tiny shops can compete, but sometimes they're deliberately excluded because they're not backed by a major IT consulting firm/custom solution provider(such as IBM, Northrop, etc) or major COTS vendor(such as ADP, Kronos, etc). The company I work for was independent for 20 years and very successful, but we weren't even allowed to submit RFPs on some projects because of requirements like that

Which industry are you in ? (2)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about a month and a half ago | (#47463989)

The industry does not want independent software developers. The industry wants teams of full-time employees.

When I read what you typed I am perplexed

Exactly which industry that you are referring to?

I have had a string of successful investments in many starts-up and will invest more in the future and it is never my intention to change those starts-up into humongous monsters (although if they change by themselves I won't stop them) employing teams and teams of data monkeys

But TFA does contain a nugget a truth, that is, the so-called " Software Renaissance " is long dead - but not because of the mobile platform, rather, it was because of everybody and their granny's second cousin all chasing after the same pot of gold and copy-catting each others

Instead of exploring new fields, instead of coming up with something exciting, so many starts-up went bust trying to re-invent the wheel (and worse, trying to copy-cat the original shape of the wheel and then sell it as their own invention)

The starts-up that I invest in are those which are offering something that I simply do not see much in the marketplace, and yet, the things that they are doing (sometime it's the back-office thing that consumers don't get to see too often) prove to be essential and become de-facto in the respective niche that they have created

But if I were to take a step back, I reckon that what is happening to the mobile platform is a repeat of what had happened to the desktop (and related big-iron) scene --- which is, too many people (including geeks) are too lazy to explore a new field, rather than do something completely new, they tried to "do a better version" of what is already available in the marketplace

There are only so many improvements one can do to a spreadsheet program, for example - as there are only so many "re-invented angry bird" that the market can bare

Re:Slew of missing business applications (3, Insightful)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about a month and a half ago | (#47462855)

Yeah, but the missing applications require specific domain knowledge that is difficult for an indipendant without experience in that field to aquire.

Re:Slew of missing business applications (1)

jbolden (176878) | about a month and a half ago | (#47462889)

I'd assume everyone knows something about a few specific things. If not partner with an SME who does.

Re:Slew of missing business applications (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | about a month and a half ago | (#47463643)

I'd assume everyone knows something about a few specific things. If not partner with an SME who does.

You, me, ass...

Re:Slew of missing business applications (5, Insightful)

Bite The Pillow (3087109) | about a month and a half ago | (#47463637)

Guy spends 20 years doing something and decides he would rather become a writer. Things he used to internally justify the decision, instead of being a sign to change jobs or move to a new city, are now reasons for EVERYONE to jump out of the game.

None of your questions seem relevant, because one ex-coder is not a rigorous study with good selection criteria and clearly reported margins of error.

In my line of work, this guy stands out as an outlier who was looking for a reason to quit. His friends are all apparently employed and doing fine, not complaining about being *this* close to losing the job, or cuts around the corner, or asking how he changed careers.

In other words, his blog sucks.

Re:Slew of missing business applications (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about a month ago | (#47464275)

the article is just hogwash.

basically, they're arguing that because there's so many indie devs there's no room for any indie devs.

Re:Slew of missing business applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47465173)

Name the vertical market, and I'm there. I've spent two years of intensely looking for such a market, and came to the conclusion that the only vertical markets left that don't have software written for them are ones where it would cost more to create the software than you'd ever make because either the market is too small, the software is too hard, or both.

brain implants coming soon (1)

alen (225700) | about a month and a half ago | (#47462759)

I bet there will be apps for those as well

iLife, much? (0, Flamebait)

reanjr (588767) | about a month and a half ago | (#47462765)

Since I never tied myself to being an iDeveloper, no, I have to concern or fear over the purported implosion of a pointless indie game market on a second-rate platform.

Walled garden? (5, Insightful)

MikeMo (521697) | about a month and a half ago | (#47462783)

Could someone explain to me how a "walled garden App Store" is crushing small developers? Exactly what about a walled garden does this?

Re:Walled garden? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47462839)

The walled garden may look like it makes it easier for users to get your app, but if it's the only way most people use to get apps, then there is no diversity in ranking. With only a single option for getting users to notice you, you end up with what I call the rock star economy: Few make it big, the rest need a real job to support their art. The walled garden is a hit parade and it has the same effect on product diversity as the equivalent in music.

Re:Walled garden? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47462957)

False. What's wrong here is that there is a slew of young developers out there who don't want a job they need to wear a tie to so they go out and try to catch the latest "wave" of the app world. What we end up with is a thousand versions of Tower Defense and only 3 make any real money. That's reasonable to me as 95% of most apps out there come off like the degree capper project that they are. This isn't mature software, this is slackers who want that lottery ticket but haven't considered making something original and worthwhile. We see this with every software wave and mobile apps is just the most recent version of this.

Re:Walled garden? (4, Informative)

Rinikusu (28164) | about a month and a half ago | (#47463617)

Just as an aside, I've yet to wear a tie and I've had plenty of "real jobs." If wearing a tie is the requirement, I'll pass. Fuck, I don't even think I *own* a tie, much less a suit.

Re:Walled garden? (4, Funny)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | about a month and a half ago | (#47463663)

Just as an aside, I've yet to wear a tie and I've had plenty of "real jobs." If wearing a tie is the requirement, I'll pass. Fuck, I don't even think I *own* a tie, much less a suit.

You should get one. I haven't been able to wear my suits to work much because I look silly sitting next to all the other long haired unshowered developers with ripped jeans and body odor loodking classy. So, I just wear it around town when I want to drink whiskey, smoke cubans and pull women. Kinda like Barney Stinson.

I wish someone had told me in high school how much easier your life becomes if you invest a bit of time and money into decent clothes. My life would have been so much more enjoyable.

But, I'm sure, like I was, you're "too intelligent for that crap". Your loss.

Re:Walled garden? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47463735)

> Kinda like Barney Stinson.

Now that is definitely someone worth emulating.

Seriously, I can not tell if you are joking or really are a walking cariacture.

Poe's Law strikes again.

Re:Walled garden? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47463841)

He's a caricature. He thinks that he can put on a suit and people will ignore that he's 400 pounds and has skin that looks like 100 year old leather work boots.

Re:Walled garden? (1)

Rinikusu (28164) | about a month and a half ago | (#47464129)

Why does suit == decent clothes? I invest quite a bit in my Made-To-Measure shirts, I wear handmade shoes, and wear quality denim. A suit? No thanks. I get laid plenty, thanks, and my body odor is tempered by daily showers.

Re:Walled garden? (2)

ruir (2709173) | about a month ago | (#47464167)

There are places to wear suits, and places not to wear them.As there are the places for bathing suits. It is a matter of common sense, you would not come in a bathing suit to a wedding or go to the pool with a suit. As for devs or sysadmins, when we see an office full of suits, it is an huge red flag. HUGE one. We know we wont be evaluated fairly, the standards of evaluation are just fluff, bullshit talk and keeping up the appearances because they do not know any better, and have also to promote and protect the inaptitude of their peers, and corporate politics are far worse there than in other places. As for suits, to go out, or even to the workplace, if I want to stand out from the crowd, I prefer to invest in slightly more expensive and fashionable clothes than suits. Lets face it, nowadays the suit is no more than a garment for formal situations, and a uniform for sleazy politicians and greasy salesmen. Your paragraph also shows a prejudice against your coworkers and that you are an idiot who likes to pretend to be something else. Nobody is forcing to work with stinking people, you can always change places and go work for suppliers of warm bodies in suits, like Gartner. Maybe if find the life there more akin to your aspirations, who knows. I did enjoy it, and will sure not exchange my work with "scruffy" people back to then again.

Re:Walled garden? (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a month ago | (#47464641)

But, I'm sure, like I was, you're "too intelligent for that crap". Your loss.

Woah there cowboy! Just because someone disagrees with you doesn't mean they're automatically a bad person.

I haven't been able to wear my suits to work much because I look silly sitting next to all the other long haired unshowered developers with ripped jeans and body odor loodking classy.

I work for myself in a co-working space. Not much point wearing a suit and tie day to day. The smelliest guy in the office is a non-developwe who wears a suit. There's also nothing that implies no tie == smelly, long haired and ripped jeans. My hair is not long, my jeans usually are in one pieve if I'm even wearing them and I shower daily.

I tend to be a bit more rattily dressed when I head over to the workshop, but really youdon't want to get solder paste, swarf or melted platic on nice ones.

I wish someone had told me in high school how much easier your life becomes if you invest a bit of time and money into decent clothes. My life would have been so much more enjoyable.

Well, you know now. Is your life more enjoyable?

Re:Walled garden? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47464623)

You never go to friends marriages, or other such formal events?

Or you like embarrassing your friends and relatives wearing some inappropriate clothing?

Re:Walled garden? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47463959)

It's also a way to practice developing in order to get a job. Every mobile development company I know lists on their job requirements that the person needs to have mobile dev experience. If you can point to some crummy flashlight app that only turns the flash on/off you're way ahead of far more experienced developers who don't have a crappy app.

Re:Walled garden? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47464573)

"95% of most apps"?
  90.25%?

Re:Walled garden? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47464765)

Is this an American thing, people have to wear ties in offices still? The only people I see wearing ties in the UK work in shops or burger places.

Re:Walled garden? (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about a month and a half ago | (#47462887)

Sarcasm?

Re:Walled garden? (2)

tepples (727027) | about a month and a half ago | (#47462903)

For one thing, hobbyist developers can't necessarily afford to pay $495 per year, or $99 per year for each of five platforms, to stay on the platforms' respective monopoly app stores.

Re:Walled garden? (4, Insightful)

aaronb1138 (2035478) | about a month and a half ago | (#47462963)

That remark is nonsense. Most hobbies require an investment in tools and materials to continue the hobby. At $8-40 / month, iDevelopment is among the cheapest of hobbies. Evening adding in the Apple tax to own a couple iShinys still keeps this well below the cost of most modest hobbies.

If someone is trying to make a living off iCrapware, then they will certainly need to be making a good amount more than that per month to sustain themselves. Not being able to afford a fixed $40 / month cost to do business means your product is a failure.

No shit (4, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about a month and a half ago | (#47463817)

My two big hobbies are computer games, and digital audio production. I spend easy that on either one of them. Like digital audio, I not long ago bought BFD3. $350 right there, and it is nothing more than a digital drumkit. I'll never make a cent on it, it is just a toy to me, but damn is it fun. That's just one set of tools I've bought, there were more in the past, and I'm sure more to come.

Or gaming, I buy new games whenever the mood strikes me, get new hardware when I need it and then of course there's MMOs. When I played WoW that was $130 or so for the game and all the expansions, plus $15/month for like 3-4 years. A bargain in my book, I got a tremendous amount of entertainment out of it.

For all that, my hobbies are cheaper than some I know. One of my coworkers is in to cars. Fuck me can you spend a lot on that shit.

Hobbies cost money. Everything costs money. That's just life.

And as you said in terms of a business cost? That's chicken shit. $40/month is hardly on the radar of a small business. When my parents ran their small business (about 4 employees) their PHONES cost more than that. Never mind power, heating, rent, payroll, taxes, etc, etc, etc. Just having the requisite number of phone lines (two) cost more than $40/month. Such a minor cost it was just inconsequential.

Re:Walled garden? (1)

bytestorm (1296659) | about a month ago | (#47465051)

As far as development costs go, that is absolutely rock-bottom cheap. Indy mobile developers don't pay 1.5k+ USD for a development-only unit with in-system debugging capability. They don't pay 1k+ per year, per seat for the tool suite. They don't pay 10k+ for external auditing and verification for major releases. It costs nothing to load unsigned apks on android. It costs nothing to load a binary from Xcode onto a target iOS device. The only thing that costs money is development equipment, which is less than 600 USD each for all major mobile platforms, and distribution, the 100$/yr being discussed.

500 per year for an entire team is laughable if you produce one good app with 500 sales (or donations) per year at a dollar each. Get four friends with the same hobby as you. Buy your release licenses as a club. Hell, go to your mom with the app you wrote and have her play around with it. I bet if she likes it she'll just give you the 100 USD to buy an iOS distribution license.

Re:Walled garden? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47463469)

It limits the runtime(s) / tooling available for each platform and forces you to live in their world. Contrast it with a platform like windows (desktop) that doesn't have any restrictions. In the 90s, there were a ton of options for developers; java, flash, win32, etc. (way too many to list). Now, with the closed mobile platforms and walled gardens you basically get 2 runtime choices on each platform; the platform's native option or a browser, both controlled 100% by the platform owner.

Even if you dislike Adobe or Oracle, their runtimes added a lot of value for small developers because they were (mostly) cross platform and were a good choice for line of business applications. Now, if you want to support all the mobile platforms, it's much more work because you need to rewrite (port) an application several times. This is great for big developers because it creates a large, financial barrier to entry. It's not so great for a small developer.

Plus, the platform owner is God when it comes to distribution. If they decide to kick you off the platform, even if your only mistake was being in a market they covet, you have no options. Small developers have almost no recourse either since they don't have any financial or PR clout.

We've gone from an era that had hundreds of competing platforms and unhindered distribution to one with (about) three platforms and curated distribution. Sure Microsoft lost their monopoly, but the platforms that replaced them are, in the long run, bad for small developers, innovation, and, once everything is subscription based, consumers.

Re:Walled garden? (1)

bytestorm (1296659) | about a month ago | (#47465127)

Of all the explanations given so far, AC is the only one that has hit the crux of the matter. I don't agree with his assessment of runtime/tooling as there is middleware which will enable porting with relative ease between platforms. But it's absolutely true that if the garden owner tosses you out, your options are few in number, especially as a small developer and they can do so for any reason they want. If the platform owner changes the way part of their platform works and it completely breaks your application (android 4.4.2 anyone?) you must quickly adapt or (get bad reviews and) die--hobbiests don't have time to drop everything and fix their app and if my understanding is correct, there is no expectation of long term (>2 yr) platform API stability (in specific example, push notifications on android).

Mobile devs are stuck with three evil giants who are conflicted on whether they want you to fill their garden with useful tools or toss you because you've stepped into their safety zone.

Walled garden? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47465133)

The walled garden infrastructure is too expensive. It costs USD $100/year + ca. USD $1000 for a new computer every five years, and ca. $600 for a new phone/tablet every three years, because the latest OS does not run on old hardware. That makes USD $500/year without taking into account any development costs or tools. Since the walled garden does not (realistically) allow you to use a shared code base for different platforms and cross-compile, but customers nevertheless expect you to deliver for PC, MAC, Linux, Android, iOS and possibly even Windows RT, you'll have to multiply this value by two or three (e.g. you'll need an android phone or tablet, and an iPhone, etc.) and also take into account the increased development time for working on at least 2-3 code bases at a time.

This results in ca. USD $80-$120 costs per month just for participating - add to this the costs for development tools and actual development time. For many small developers, particularly former shareware developers like me, that's simply too much.

The good news for Apple & Co is that many small developers still make cross-platform apps because they don't realize how much money they loose (until they stop their business and get a full daytime job).

Just don't do the same thing everyone else is.. (4, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | about a month and a half ago | (#47462807)

Everyone wants to make another Candy Crush or Flappy Birds game, and they'll be lucky to make minimum wage for the time they spend doing it. When I became a Mac developer in '84, and when I switched to NeXTSTEP in '89, both were moves decidedly out of the mainstream.

There's no shortage of unmet needs that can be addressed with an iOS app, but if you don't take the time to figure out what they are, then of course you'll fail.

-jcr

Re:Just don't do the same thing everyone else is.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47463999)

And that's why I don't play or make games. I see them as a waste of time, and I don't want gamers as customers. While I've only written a handful of apps, they were the result of finding customers who had unique problems to solve. The most recent app was turned down by a half dozen app developers before the idea was presented to me. I didn't really see a problem with it other than it was very complex. It was the complexity that drove the other developers away - and what I liked about it.

Parent is right - there is no shortage of unmet needs. Finding them can be a problem. Had my customer not already had the idea, I never would have dreamed they needed it.

Now, if they'd only make that final payment so I can actually make a profit.

Isn't this a good thing? (5, Insightful)

JustNiz (692889) | about a month and a half ago | (#47462861)

What I got from the article is that the flood of people that call themselves Software Engineers when all they actually know how to do is configure 3rd party tools and at best write a few scripts to run stuff on the internet are finally being called out.

If so I think that's actually a good thing for restoring some value to the job description and to the currently low perceived value of skilled Engineers that actually can/do develop complex software from scratch.

Re:Isn't this a good thing? (1)

aaronb1138 (2035478) | about a month and a half ago | (#47462971)

Thank you. I don't think I could have said that so succinctly.

Re:Isn't this a good thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47463035)

Weeding out those who don't understand code is like cleaning up projects on /r/shittykickstarters.

Kate Gregory [gregcons.com] is a good example of going the long haul. She's been programming for over forty years and is still on top of it.

Isn't this a good thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47463175)

Yup, the one thing that really pisses me off with a lot of apps is that it's shit that's easily done on a website thru a browser.
And what really fucks me off are apps that just duplicate a website with fuck all in the way of added functionality because the PHB mandated that the company must have an app because he read it in the latest edition of 'iManager Today' (thru it's own app, not the website obviously!)

For example, just a quick search on the Play Store reveals 3 Slashdot reader apps. What is so fucking hard about starting up your tablets browser and actually reading the website?

Maybe I should just write an app that prints out 'Breath in... now breath out" every 5 seconds. It could be a lifesaver for the terminally stupid app whores.
Scrub that, I'll just make it print "breath out" repeatedly.

Re:Isn't this a good thing? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a month and a half ago | (#47463379)

For example, just a quick search on the Play Store reveals 3 Slashdot reader apps. What is so fucking hard about starting up your tablets browser and actually reading the website?

Dealing with the web site's mobile UI? (Some are horribly screwed, not sure about /.)

Re:Isn't this a good thing? (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about a month and a half ago | (#47463441)

Not sure about beta, but sometimes I set the user agent to iOS for a cleaner page. You get more control over column width, for instance....

Re:Isn't this a good thing? (1)

SB2020 (1814172) | about a month ago | (#47464853)

Tried to search for something on /. on an ipad at the weekend, saw the beta layout for the first time (the humanity!) browser crashed after paging through 3 pages. Maybe the standalone readers are needed for basic functionality – after studiously ignoring the beta kerfuffle I now see the point – they really have killed slashdot with that design.

Re:Isn't this a good thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47463207)

I'm eager to vigorously make sweet, tender love to your comment. In a not-strange way.

Re:Isn't this a good thing? (1)

some old guy (674482) | about a month ago | (#47464923)

Wow, talk about nailing it from back court! Game, set, and match.

Re:Isn't this a good thing? (0)

narcc (412956) | about a month ago | (#47465031)

You got that from the article, eh?

What I got from your comment is that you have absolutely no other skills and desperately want software development to be considered on-par with engineering.

Actual engineers, I'm sure, cringe when they read nonsense like that.

Let's face reality here: Writing software is easy. It's easier today than it was 30 years ago -- and back then it was so easy that millions of children taught themselves! (I'll bet a good number of Slashdot users are among them. How many users here taught themselves how to program before the age of 10? If not a majority, I'll bet it's a very large percentage.)

I'm sorry, but being a competent developer does not make you special. It does not make you an engineer. It does, however, show that you're at least as competent as the average middle-class kid in the 80's. So, congratulations on that.

Who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47462899)

I'd say gemmell (or gem all, however it's pronounced) is out of ideas.

The appcrap boom is over (5, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | about a month and a half ago | (#47462925)

What "software renaissance"? The writer means the appcrap boom - millions of small bad programs, with a few good ones. Many, maybe most, "apps" could just as well be web pages.

The appcrap boom seems to be winding down. Developers realize that writing a quickie app has roughly the success percentage of starting a garage band. That's a good thing.

It's a great time to code, if you have a problem to solve. The tools are cheap if not free, the online resources are substantial, and there's vast amounts of cheap computing power available on every platform from wrist to data center. If you don't have a problem to solve, coding is sort of pointless.

Re:The appcrap boom is over (4, Insightful)

Panaflex (13191) | about a month and a half ago | (#47462997)

Amen! I'm know there were some gems in the rough, and also some amazing apps that I never saw, but by-and-large the emphasis on shiny marketing and top tens over quality has overshadowed the market for a couple of years.

I have some genuine good ideas I'd like to throw at an app, but I'm looking at the market and I don't really want to touch it.

Re:The appcrap boom is over (1)

satuon (1822492) | about a month ago | (#47464239)

Well, they have a problem to solve - namely, that they need money and fame.

Re:The appcrap boom is over (1)

LordWabbit2 (2440804) | about a month ago | (#47464841)

If your comment wasn't already a 5 (and I actually had points) I would mod this. There is so much cr@p in the app stores it boggles the mind.

Beyond Betteridge. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47462931)

Shamelessly begging the question.

And Close the Patent Office ... Again (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about a month and a half ago | (#47462965)

The reports of the death of software development has been greatly exaggerated. That is, unless Netcraft says so too.

hmm... (1)

buddyglass (925859) | about a month and a half ago | (#47462983)

Seems like we need a more precise definition of renaissance. My pay hasn't suffered and I haven't had trouble finding jobs. Standard warnings about small sample size apply.

It sure is, just like every other year (2)

Sarusa (104047) | about a month and a half ago | (#47463039)

Everyone thinks this when their specific little niche goes away for whatever reason. Or even when it changes.

Opportunists who are just in it for easy money will bail out and find whatever the land rush is this month. The others will find a way. Remember when AAA gaming crushed all small budget games forever? Yeah.

(This can be 'bad' as well if you're one of those people who think income is the only thing that matters... some of those people could have done better financially elsewhere).

Timing (3, Insightful)

Livius (318358) | about a month and a half ago | (#47463047)

Well, once the current dark age of bloated web pages with delusions of grandeur masquerading as 'apps' is over, the renaissance can start, and then we'll talk about it ending.

Re:Timing (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a month and a half ago | (#47463561)

Well, once the current dark age of bloated web pages with delusions of grandeur masquerading as 'apps' is over, the renaissance can start, and then we'll talk about it ending.

There are a lot of directions web apps/development could go, and many of them are not good. Web development is a problem that will remain a problem for a long time.

The only thing constant is change (5, Interesting)

adosch (1397357) | about a month and a half ago | (#47463135)

I read Matt's blog posting and I do have to say it sounds like his underlying issue is less of a quandary with a code renaissance being over and more of the drowning complexy and exhaustion involved with today's changing technology world from a code slingers perspective. Reading his blurb touching on a few profound things I find myself doing more and more as I get older in the tech industry: enjoying the simplicity of hacking shell or automative code in a text editor without launching an IDE, still having algorithmic thought processes and approaches, documenting less and thinking more. It sounds like his interests have just shifted and probably for the better. There's tons of shit that I look at on my shelves: projects started, topics heavily bookmarked in myriad of O'reilly books, half-finished circuit design on breadboards, code lying around here or there. It's just that: what was important now isn't and you're trying to just simplify the black hole of tech that was once an intriguing and mind-blowing ordeal.

Software will kill the software profession (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47463159)

In the next (insert short time frame here I prefer 15 years) software will be creating new software, not humans.

All we will do is dictate our requirements. By the time we are done speaking, the software will have been "written".

Re:Software will kill the software profession (2)

DahGhostfacedFiddlah (470393) | about a month and a half ago | (#47463567)

And then we'll *still* need developers.

If someone ever invents a language that let's people program in plain English, it will be discovered that the majority of people cannot learn English.

The real worry (4, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about a month and a half ago | (#47463323)

The real worry is that his article is astonishingly short on numbers. In fact, he 1500 words and didn't include a single piece of data to indicate an end to a 'Software Renaissance." All he did was complain that he's tired of programming. That's it. Annoying.

What he's really mad about (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about a month and a half ago | (#47463793)

Is that he can't seem to milk the mobile app gravy train, or at least the perceived gravy train. I know a surprising amount of people who thought "Gee great, I'll learn how to make mobile apps and then go off and make my own company and be RICH!" They are the reason why there's so much same shit in app stores.

However, turns out that most don't make any money. Producing the 4,593,928,192nd tower defense game just doesn't excite anyone, unless you happen to do a really good job in an unique way, and these people aren't. So, these money chasers don't make much, if anything. Hence, whining like this. This guy doesn't wanna have a real job at a programming company, he wants to work for himself or with his buddies and shovel out crap and get paid.

That has never worked great, and what is left is drying up.

Re:The real worry (3, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | about a month and a half ago | (#47463973)

didn't include a single piece of data to indicate an end to...

'cuz the data renaissance is also ending

Professional Coder != Indie Developer (2)

sirwired (27582) | about a month and a half ago | (#47463401)

Yes, the viability of mobile as a platform for indie development is now less. But bottom-grade shovelware has been a problem since the dawn of consumer computing. (Anybody remember when PC shovelware was literally sold by the foot at K-Mart? i.e. "Six Feet of Games!" as a chain of CD-ROMs.) It has nothing whatsoever to do with the viability of coding as a profession. The vast majority of developers making a living always have been, and always will be, IT drones coding database applications. Mobile is just another platform for those folks...

Does this mean....? (1)

Zaphod-AVA (471116) | about a month and a half ago | (#47463425)

Does this mean that there might be some software that isn't completely terrible?

Re:Does this mean....? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47463461)

Does this mean that there might be some software that isn't completely terrible?

No, the UX designers behind the Digg and YouTube revamps, Firefox, GNOME3, and Win8 will migrate like locusts, fucking up every project in their path.

These aren't even real developers (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47463487)

The community/industry that these bloggers exist within (at least, the first of the 3, Finkler) isn't real software development anyways. When I read Finkler's blog post, the key phrases that stand out to me are these:

"I used to be really excited about JavaScript"
"I have 15 years of PHP under my belt"
"[...] Python. I don’t feel like I really grok the module system. I definitely don’t understand the class system."
"Have you ever tried setting up something on AWS? There are a billion buttons and settings and new, invented words I don’t understand. I have no clue how any of that stuff works."
"Did you know I used to be a 'designer?'" [of web apps and such]

What I read from the amalgamation of these statements is: This is one of those guys who jumped on the "I want to be a web designer" bandwagon many years ago when the field was hot and it was easy to churn out crap and make money at it. He learned (by cargo cult copypasta and/or Whatever for Dummies books?) to get by in PHP and Javascript over the years. But he never really understood what he was doing.

For one that actually studies (not in a school, I mean really in the real world) computer science and the art of programming, by the time you've learned a language or three the rest come very easily. Such a person can write useful production code in a new programming language on the first day byt the time they get to language number 4 or 5. That simple, core aspects of a sane language like Python baffle Finkler after 15 years of experience and serious use of at least two languages is very telling in this regard.

For one that works professionally in the computer/internet industry, understanding how systems and networks work is critical. Can you build a server from components (at least in theory? Done it a few times years ago with a home PC or something?)? Can you spec out a 100 (or 100,000) -system network of machines for a production cluster of some kind, and understand all the issues involved with everything from cabling to traffic loadbalancing to data migration and scaling issues and fault tolerance tradeoffs and blah blah blah? Could you, at least in theory, go build it all out yourself and be successful and having a fairly optimal and well-designed system at the end of it? Configure the routers and set up peering/transit agreements with the rest of the internet and get your traffic flowing smoothly to a global customer base?

People put *way* too much emphasis on the "Learn a Programming Language" part of being a developer. A real developer who's worth his salt must do much more than that. You must understand the whole stack you're operating on. Just to touch the highlights of that stack for a typical web app: The client's browser, the browser's OS, the machine that OS runs on, the ethernet interface on that machine, the DSL router at the user's home, the ISP network the traffic traverses and how it peers with everything else that peers with you, important side-issues in the network like low-level details of the DNS and how the ISP resolves and caches it, the routers, switches, cabling, and configuration of the network in your datacenter, that whole production cluster mentioned in the previous paragraph, Linux kernel issues on the appserver machines related to interrupt routing and TCP socket features, how your HTTP server works and how to debug deep issues in it, and how it connects to whatever engine or VM runs your application code, and how *that* is scaled locally to utilize the hardware efficiently, etc.

You want a guaranteed job as a desirable developer for decades, without being subject to industry whims and immigration politics? Learn to be someone for whom everything I've said above is trivial. Those are the badasses. If all you can say is "I can write some PHP code that seems to be functionally correct most of the time; the user inputs X and it outputs Y", you're not even 5% of the way there on actually understanding what you *need* to understand to do the job well.

One of the reply blog posts to Finkler's mentioned a "glut of developers". There has never, in the history of computing, been a glut of developers. There have been many waves of gluts of talentless hack pretenders, but we're always short of people that actually know what the fuck they're doing.

Re:These aren't even real developers (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a month ago | (#47464425)

Can you spec out a 100,000 -system network of machines for a production cluster of some kind, and understand all the issues involved with everything from cabling to traffic loadbalancing to data migration and scaling issues and fault tolerance tradeoffs and blah blah blah

I don't even know how to do this. Would you have a giant load-balancer in front that receives all web requests first, and passes divides it among various servers? What would you do when that load-balancer goes down?

Re:These aren't even real developers (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47464795)

You would use round robin DNS to distribute traffic to several IP's. Search for 'redundant load balancing".

cry me a fucking river (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47463531)

my* frontier got paved over 10 years ago and there is a wallmart sitting on top of it

Mad's Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a month and a half ago | (#47463549)

Is the Software Renaissance Ending?

Yeah, like ten years ago.

He lives in the Apple world (1)

iMadeGhostzilla (1851560) | about a month and a half ago | (#47463635)

XCode, iOS, Swift... Much of that world is centered around "cool" stuff ie. it's less about making something that creates value/makes money or enables someone else to make money or be productive and much more about pass time. At the same time this cool world has attracted a huge number of developers -- so now there is little of importance left to do and plenty of volunteers. Kind of like the digital music making scene.

To test this theory, I'm firing up the App Store on my iPhone and here are the top paid apps:
1. Minecraft - Pocket edition ($6.99, Games)
2. Heads Up! ($0.99, Games)
3. Monument Valley ($1.99, Games)
4. Blek ($0.99, Games)
5. Afterlight ($1.99, Photo & Video)
6. 7. Minute Workout ($1.99, Health and Fitness)
7. PAW Patrol Rescue Run ($3.99, Education (?))
8. Magic Locks -- LockScre... ($1.99, Entertainment)
9. Dark Sky - Weather ($3.99, Weather)
10. Facetune ($2.99, Photo & Video)

And so on. Photo & Video on iPhone? The builtin app is perfectly fine, in honesty. Health and fitness? People have been fit before iPhones but OK, fine. And the rest? Entertainment, Games, Games, Games.

(The top free app are almost all Games, with some Photo & Video and occasional Entertainment. And of course, 15. Facebook (Social Networking).)

The world of Windows and Linux has much more going on for it IMO, new stuff creates opportunities for new stuff, so I don't think his reasoning applies to software in general.

get off my lawn (1)

NynexNinja (379583) | about a month and a half ago | (#47463677)

speak for yourself, Matt Gemmell, oh and by the way, Get off my lawn.

Re:get off my lawn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47463821)

Chk-chk - I am counting to 5, so you better be gone by 4

click-bait troll article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47463783)

Bitter ex-programmer writes click-bait blog about how much he's bitter about it. Then he posts them anonymously to /.

Can't we mod articles troll?

Virtual reality is coming (1)

PANTANO (1666613) | about a month and a half ago | (#47463803)

Assuming it takes off, I'm calling virtual reality as the next "renaissance." Engines like Unreal and Unity are making it easier and easier for independent publishers to produce quality applications and VR really is a separate medium with a ton of unexplored territory.

Re:Virtual reality is coming (1)

SB2020 (1814172) | about a month ago | (#47464985)

This. Naively I hope that the days of Neuromancer/SnowCrash/Vurt/Ready Player One are upon us, tools and hardware are there to create immersive experiences that evolve gaming out of the pit it's in. Bought Titanfall for the kids - they got 2-3 days out of it before getting bored and going back to Minecraft, we don't need another Shiny Doom. Playground Tag games, even with giant robots, are fine for 5 mins but as a 40 something year old I yearn for something a little more cerebral - didn't seem to have any problems finding smart, challenging games as a kid on my speccy/C64/Amiga. The experiences today are pretty much the same as games in the early 90's just easier and prettier. Design by committee and market research gets you faster, prettier horses. The new renaissance will be led by the auteurs making 'experiences' out of and for the love of it, not from the study of analytics, and monetisation streams. System Shock, Elite, Civ, Myst. We started with benchmarks like Robotron, where the fuck did we go wrong?
Lawn? I remember when all this were fields.

A little early, I think (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a month and a half ago | (#47463823)

I predict the final implosion on mobile app-mania will occur much closer to the end of the decade. Sometime in 2019 at the absolute latest, but probably no sooner than 2017.

Where I think the problem lies (3, Interesting)

petrus4 (213815) | about a month and a half ago | (#47463905)

I have overwhelmingly observed that the majority of computer users, do not want a truly free, democratic, autonomous, or self-empowering scenario, where their use of a computer is concerned.

With computer use, we now essentially have two groups of people. A minority of specialised, elitist programmers who write software for an almost completely unskilled, disinterested, and technophobic majority; and said technophobic majority themselves.

It seems that the proverbial "owner driver," of computers (a group among whom I gladly self-identify) are becoming a dying breed. I sat up all night last night, until 7 am this morning, compiling and re-compiling sources for my new NetBSD/amd64 vm. I have found use of that system tricky; and the current install is my third attempt. It is uneven in some areas, and there are many jagged edges. Nevertheless, I am determined, and while it has been somewhat frustrating, I have enjoyed the process; to the point where I have since only had six hours' sleep, in part due to my level of enthusiasm to get back into it.

People need to understand that maintaining their freedom requires vigilance, personal initiative and responsibility, and active defense. The psychopaths are tireless in their attempts to take it away from us; and more, to convince us that we should actually want them to take it away.

Learn to program yourself; but when I say this, I do not merely mean the new languages that are popular, which will win you approval from a manager. I mean the old languages, like C, FORTH, Tcl/Tk, shell, awk, m4, and LaTeX. Learn simple HTML, and use RMS' own web site [stallman.org] as a code example if you do not know how. Java might bring you money, but in my observation at least, it will not bring you joy.

Use the BSDs. Get comfortable with compiling something from source code. A lot of applications are designed much more smoothly than they used to be, so this is nowhere near as difficult as it once was. Get VMware Player, and install an Open or NetBSD guest. Use it to teach yourself the command line and shell scripting, and then realise that there is no reason for you to pay hundreds of dollars to Microsoft for Windows if you don't want to. You can buy a perfectly good computer from here [thinkpenguin.com] , which has completely Free Software compatible hardware, and then run one of the BSDs natively, and dual boot it with Windows if you want. I don't hate Microsoft at all; I just think people should have that choice.

In addition to your use of Twitter, consider downloading XChat 2 [silverex.org] and discovering Internet Relay Chat. Many open source software projects have IRC channels, so if you do start using *BSD, that will also be a good way of getting help if you need it.

In addition to your use of Reddit, get Forte Agent [forteinc.com] and find out if your service provider maintains a Usenet server. If they don't, Forte sells Usenet access at $3/month for 20GB.

I know many of you want the new, shiny thing; but voluntary simplicity is becoming a major movement in other areas of life as well, and truthfully I really think it's time we brought it to computer use as well. I am certified as a Permaculture [permacultu...ciples.com] designer, and I truthfully view use of the BSDs as being as close as I can get to using a computer in a Permacultural manner. The word Permaculture is short for "permanent culture," and UNIX is timeless.

The nail has been hit on the head (1)

gwstuff (2067112) | about a month and a half ago | (#47464051)

A very fine article reflecting on what indie developers such as myself have been feeling in recent times. This was my favorite excerpt:

"If you attend an iOS/Mac dev meetup and hang around long enough, you’ll start to hear the whispers and the nervous laughter. There are people making merry in the midst of plenty, but each of them occasionally steps away to the edge of the room, straining to listen over the music, trying to hear the barbarians at the gates. There’s something wrong with the world, Neo."

Exactly.

"I really hope that I’m wrong about this, and that we haven’t entered the Second Sundering of indie software, the likes of which we haven’t seen since “shareware” was the word on everyone’s lips. I really do hope I’m mistaken."

Yep.

Touch is dead right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47464089)

Every single computer program that exists will need to be ported -and ported well- to a touch interface. Kids these days have little interest in mice or keyboards (anyone under 5). They will grow up and want everything to be touch. If the older generations can't do it for them they will do it for themselves. Still a ton to be made in software.

Became a writer? (2)

satuon (1822492) | about a month ago | (#47464289)

Writer? Am I the only one who thought that saying "writer" is a great euphemism for unemployed? This might turn out to be a great vacation that ends when he runs out of money.

Race to the bottom (2)

giorgist (1208992) | about a month ago | (#47464449)

Why do we call it race top the bottom and we are sad when we are talking cost of software but we call it economies of scale when we buy hardware and we are happy ?

Re:Race to the bottom (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about a month ago | (#47464667)

Why do we call it race top the bottom and we are sad when we are talking cost of software but we call it economies of scale when we buy hardware and we are happy ?

I think because economies of scale don't apply to software production. When designing some large system the overheads associated by having different teams working together increase (this is described well in The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering [wikipedia.org] ). The same is true of physical systems, producing the design and prototype of a new airliner will be a large project - and if you got each engineer to design a small "one person" project (an electric bicycle, a better toaster, etc) the output in terms of components would be much bigger.

In physical systems, however, there is then a production phase where the product is produced over and over. The larger the volume the better the economies of scale - when Ford produce a volume car they know they will be producing millions so they put a lot of effort in making the assembly quick and automating. For airliners it is less so, there will be much more manual assembly involved as they may be in the 100s.

With software, however there is very little in the production stage, essentially the copying and distribution costs are much lower than the design cost. This means the only benefit of volume is dilution of the original design cost.

Mo money Mo Problems (1)

Ken Poirier (3749555) | about a month ago | (#47464671)

As long as people don't care about making money, there will always be software that needs development!

In what sense is this about software (1)

Phillip2 (203612) | about a month ago | (#47465005)

He is complaining that there is little room for independence, that everything is becoming owned by large corporations who control everything through a combination of their power in the marketplace, use of the law.

I am struggling to understand how this is an issue with software development. The same is happening everywhere. Once he's been writing for a while, he'll discover that this is mostly owned by a few large corporations. The same is true with music, science, education and so on.

We are sinking back into a "free market" feudal hierarchy. Software development is just following the rest of society.

Sadly all we get is mediocre software.... (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about a month ago | (#47465159)

I want a GPS app that when I follow a route it does not "FREAK the hell OUT" when I pull off for gas or lunch. It also should pull the current weather radar and allow it to be superimposed over my GPS map so I can see if I am going to be driving into rain. We have ALL this information right now all the technology is there. Yet programmers are too damned lazy to add real features that people will want.. Instead we get crap like Flappy Bird and oh a new redesigned User Interface!

Everyone wants their own secret sauce to be kept hidden, and I want to beat them with a sack of doorknobs.

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