[Foundation-l] FlaggedRevisions status (March 2010)

William Pietri william at scissor.com
Thu Mar 4 17:12:33 UTC 2010

Hi, Stephen. Thanks for making your point in a polite, low-drama way.

On 03/04/2010 05:58 AM, Stephen Bain wrote:
>> The answer is already given ... When it is done. You have been informed with
>> >  the latest developments.. so you know the existing issues.
> That's normally the perfect answer, but the point of this discussion
> is that it's not unreasonable to expect something more concrete when
> there are people getting paid to do the work.

I think the real problem here is not the lack of a date for when it will 
be done. It's that progress isn't sufficiently transparent -- something 
that also frustrates me and something we are actively working on solving.

Right now people can see code being committed, and they can see items 
being checked off. But for most people, that's effectively meaningless; 
it gives them no familiar, intuitive way to judge progress. So they fall 
back to dates, which they do have experience in judging, and deadlines, 
which give the comforting illusion of surety. [1]

Instead, I think the right approach is to put new software out there 
frequently, so people can try it out for themselves and form their own 
opinions of how close we are. Eventually, both the builders and the 
community will agree that there's something worth shipping. And in the 
meantime, the discussion that goes on will improve the product in ways 
that no mere look at the calendar ever could.

So yes, all parties are in favor of something more concrete, and as soon 
as possible. We're working on it. We would already have it, except that 
I underestimated both the issues involved in releasing to labs and the 
difficulty of quickly setting up new production-equivalent test 
environments. That's hard for the same reasons of historical 
underinvestment that until recently held Wikipedia's UI back.

And to address an occasional theme in both the on- and off-list mail 
I've received: I believe there are no bad actors or sinister plans 
keeping this from happening. If I did, I'd raise a ruckus, quit, or 
both: I've got better things to do than go-nowhere projects. This is 
happening. We are making good progress, progress that we want to show to 
you, and we will do that as soon as we can.


[1] There are a lot of reasons I think the deadline model is 
pathological for software projects. Having spent a decade understanding 
why and learning more effective approaches, I have a lot to say on the 
topic -- too much for this list, I think. But if people want to discuss 
that off-list, please do drop me a line. In the world of print, 
McConnell's "Rapid Development" ch. 8 and 9 has a very readable 
explanation of the problems. Poppendieck's "Lean Software Development" 
and Cohn's "Agile Estimating and Planning" are good places to start for 
the modern solutions. Caspers Jones also has some great material on 
deadline failure rates, but I don't have refs handy.

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