[Bruce D'Arcus:QOTD] When Design By Committee Gets In The Way Of The Design

by M. David Peterson

darcusblog � Blog Archive � OOo: Quality Through Obsolescence?

Michael notes a lot of progress on the OOo organizational front of late, such as the move to more frequent releases. But clearly the deeper organizational dynfucntions are really, seriously, weighing on the capacity for OOo to innovate. I really hope they don't slow down implementation of the new metadata support in ODF 1.2. It really has the potential to be a killer innovation opportunity for OOo, but not if it gets delayed for five years by business as usual.

I'm cautiously optimistic, though.


2007-06-06 08:13:57
Degree. Technical specifications well done will make it possible to get it done. With quality? No. There is a definitional problem there. Is quality a faster system, a more fully-featured system, a cheaper system, a more open system, and so on? A technical specification does not measure quality and quality is about measurements, themselves, locally defined unless tooling is shared.

OTOH, as I pointed out to Rick and Kurt, tooling is what the wisdom of crowds is all about.

More releases faster won't lead to quality either. It will lead to fewer bugs for the features specified. The trick is to constrain the features and that is a tough problem in a consensus-driven environment because it is automatically political. Does the leader remove features or remove opinions (contributors all too often)?

On the other hand, I'm sitting here working on a system that was specified by committees and it is going rather well. Why? They only spec'd the messages on the wire with a light sprinkling of business rules and left the rest to the locals. The locals took the message specs and did light customization for local needs. They left the rest of the puzzle to us.

The first release will be very clean. Then the feedback and the nonsense will begin. Obsolescence? That is another multi-dimensional problem? Things that cost a lot to procure don't obsolete as fast as things that are cheap or free in the general case.

That is why OOo may lose. It won't be the specs that kill it although that process done badly can. It will be because the owners have no deep motivations for defending it after the second generation of users.