Improving Wetware

Because technology is never the issue

The Rugged Software Manifesto is not a Parody

Posted by Pete McBreen 28 Jun 2010 at 18:14

It turns out that I was mistaken, the Onion did not write the Rugged Software Manifesto, or at least if they did InfoQ got taken in as well.

But it still sounds like a parody even if they are serious…

Rugged takes it a step further. The idea is that before the code can be made secure, the developers themselves must be toughened up.

The InfoQ article is not a complete waste of time though, there has been some conversation sparked by the parody, but Andrew Fried seems to have taken the idea in a new direction with his condensed version with just three points:

  • The software should do what it’s advertised to do.
  • The software shouldn’t create a portal into my system via every Chinese and Russian malware package that hits the Internet virtually every minute of every day.
  • The software should protect the users from themselves.

The first point is obvious and does not really require stating except to those developers who are not aware of authors like Gerald Weinberg.

His second point is again obvious, if you are building any software, you should know what the libraries you are including do. Well, Duh!

His third point is just plain wrong, and shows the usual arrogance of developers. Protect users from themselves is not an attitude I would like to see on my teams. Yes, protect users from stupid programmer mistakes, but the kind of arrogance shown in protect users from themselves leads to the kind of problems that fly by wire aircraft have had, notably the Airbus that did a low level pass and continued in level flight into trees and more recently shutting off a warning alarm that released the brakes causing the plane to slam into a wall.

Overall, it still sounds like a parody, but it is getting to sound like a very sick parody, more like graveyard humor.