Article development led by
Quality happens only when
someone is responsible for it.
By PouL-hEnninG KAmP
tHirteen YeArs AgO, Eric Raymond’s essay,
“The Cathedral and the Bazaar,”
2 redefined our
vocabulary and all but promised an end to the waterfall
model and big software companies, thanks to the new
grass-roots open source software development movement. I found the book thought-provoking, but it did not
convince me. On the other hand, being deeply involved in open source, I
couldn’t help but think that it would
be nice if he was right.
The book I brought to the beach
house this summer is also thought-provoking, much more so than Raymond’s book (which it even mentions rather positively): Frederick
P. Brooks’s The Design of Design.
As much as I find myself nodding in
agreement and as much as I enjoy
Brooks’s command of language and
subject matter, the book also makes
me sad and disappointed.
Thirteen years ago also marks the
apogee of the dot-com euphoria, where
every teenager was a Web program-
mer and every college dropout had
a Web startup. I had genuine fun try-
ing to teach some of those greenhorns
about the good old-fashioned tricks
of the trade—test-restoring backups,
scripting operating-system installs,
version control, and so on. Hindsight,
of course, is 20/20 (that is, events may
have been less fun than you remem-
ber), and there is no escaping that the
entire dot-com era was a disaster for
IT/CS in general and for software qual-
ity and Unix in particular.