Being the thoughts and writings of one Gustaf Erikson; father, homeowner, technologist.

Saturday, 2005-07-30

Internal software

Joel describes the five software worlds

This description of “internal software” rang a lot of ( warning ) bells:

Internal software only has to work in one situation on one company’s computers. This makes it a lot easier to develop. You can make lots of assumptions about the environment under which it will run. You can require a particular version of Internet Explorer, or Microsoft Office, or Windows. If you need a graph, let Excel build it for you; everybody in our department has Excel. (But try that with a shrinkwrap package and you eliminate half of your potential customers.)

Here usability is a lower priority, because a limited number of people need to use the software, and they don’t have any choice in the matter, and they will just have to deal with it. Speed of development is more important. Because the value of the development effort is spread over only one company, the amount of development resources that can be justified is significantly less. Microsoft can afford to spend $500,000,000 developing an operating system that’s only worth about $80 to the average person. But when Detroit Edison develops an energy trading platform, that investment must make sense for a single company. To get a reasonable ROI you can’t spend as much as you would on shrinkwrap. So sadly lots of internal software sucks pretty badly.

( emphasis added )

Submit a comment

Please enter comments as plain text only; HTML is not supported. Submitting an URL is optional.

Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately.

Comments are closed for this story.