2005-03-12 23:59

Developer-centric and proud of it

Ok, as everyone and its goat in the free software/open source/pet-keeping communities already has read, Eugenia [1] has been up to her old antics.

The latest shape of her discontent is, developers of GNOME (and lately of KDE, too [2]) are developer-centric instead of user-centric.

Basically, the gist is that developers have a responsability to keep in mind their users desires, and follow their wishes when deciding what way their projects should go. That these "people" are developing said software in their free time and giving it away is unimportant, she says, the user's voice shall be heard. [3]

Well, I am not a developer nowadays, at least not of shared software [4] but I still recall when I was one. And I am cranky. And I have little care about what people think about me. So...

Let me express my feelings when I read her editorial (and another one called the riddle of the sphinx, I think [5] ).


I have read, in the editorials and (specially) the clueless talkbacks, the following:

  • If you are going to do a half-assed job, don't put it on the internet

Well, dude, pretend it's not there. That works for me when I consider japanese tentacle porn, it can work for you and a mail client. If you pretend it's not there, it won't bother you. Then those who tolerate half-assed jobs can live a life of jolly fulfillment.

  • The user has invested effort on learning and using the program, so the developer owes him something.

I suppose the solution for that is not allowing people to use the software unless they accept that it is provided as-is... oh, wait... that's already true. Never mind.

  • That since GNOME (or KDE) claim to provide useful and user-friendly software, by failing to follow the user's lead we are engaging in some sort of false advertising.

Coca Cola promised me "Everything is better with Coca Cola". Then I tried pouring a can into my computer, hoping it would make it faster, or somehow better in some way. I have to tell you, those bastards won't know what hit'em!

  • Posting bug descriptions in bugzilla is too much work.

Well, try fixing one someday, missy! That's WAY harder. You are saying that using a little energy is too much work, to people who spend hundred times more as a consequence.

It's like complaining that planting seeds is too much work, when you later get a harvest. Well, if you think, so, drop agriculture.

  • That the development is somehow skewed towards developers, not users.

Well, to that I have many answers. Let me share a few.

  1. So? You say that as if it's a bad thing.
  2. Well, that's good for the developers.
  3. What magic potion did I have to drink to become a developer? Developers are just users who are way too involved in the project.
  4. As a lawyer once said, since phoenicians invented money, the question "what can I do for you?" has a single answer. Well, think about it.
  5. No, it isn't.

Finally, let me tell you the depressing part. In a comment, Eugenia said she dropped GNOME for WindowMaker. Let me show you what she said:

RE: So Eugenia refuses to use GNOME? By Eugenia (IP: ---.osnews.com) - Posted on 2005-03-10 20:32:31

I moved back to WindowMaker, yes. At least I don't expect anything more from it, because it is not a prominent environment and I know it's a much smaller project with fewer responsibilities.

Talk about throwing the baby away with the bath water. She is simply saying that she choses to use worse software (according to her needs), because... well, I have no idea why.

Because she has low-enough expectations about WindowMaker that she won't be disappointed? That road leads to dating ex-convicts, you know.

In the end, well, I have no idea what people think. I simply don't understand the world. I mean, I intensely dislike GNOME, and even a few people involved in it, but it's just code. And code that is worth millions of dollars. And it's there, dudes! It's like finding a stack of bullion in your doorstep, and not only that, but on every doorstep [6].

Why don't people simply look up and thank the invisible dwarves who must have toiled in darkness for years in order to rip it off the earth? [7]

No, what we get instead is a bunch of jewelers asking for finer craftsmanship in the goods, or else they are just gonna buy some bullion from someone else.

You know what? Developer-centric is good. In an absolute, objective, measurable way. Because it's developer-centric you get developers. developers make code. Code brings users.

If all you attract are users because being a developer is a pain the butt, you have no developers, thus no code, thus no users.

What do you think is better for users in the long term?

So, say it loud, I'm developer-centric and I'm proud. At least this old hack is.

[1] of OSNEWS.COM fame. You decide if that's a good or bad thing.

[2] A new post in her site. I suppose she has to feed the hit-monster.

[3] That being published in a big site that lacks threaded replies in 2005, and a woman who, when she gets a complain about it, said she was doing it in her spare time, so stop bothering her. No, I don't get it either.

[4] Isn't that much nicer-sounding than open source and much less annoying and pompous than free software?

[5] Which is, I think, #4 in the list of "ten titles you should never use in an opinion piece". #1 is What I did last summer, but I digress...

[6] And by some economic miracle, it hasn't caused yet a global depression in the value of bullion.

[7] Well, at least we work in comfortable chairs.


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