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Offshoring Opportunities/the Quark Debacle

I believe that the outshoring trend presents a tremendous opportunity for smart developers with a bit of business sense. This is a once in a lifetime opprotunity to grab massive market share from entrenched players.

Object lesson: Quark

QuarkXpress was indisputably the #1 publishing layout software in the world and almost all its users ran it on the Mac. In fact, this issue of graphics and publishing software on the Mac was probably the primary reason Apple computer even survived.

The original owner sold the company and the new owners fired the entire development staff and outsourced all development and customer service to India. They claimed that India had far superior developers who worked at a lower price and produced better, more stable, more feature filled software because of their better education and attention to process, a la the Decline and Fall of the American Programmer.

The project to port Quark to OS X, a simple carbonization exercise that many other programs of similar complexity accomplished with a modest staff over a period of a few months, dragged on and on in India. Eventually, the resulting version 6 was delivered two years late and at a far greater cost tahn any one could have imagined. But many customers had held on during these years and ignored the technically superior, file compatible, and less expensive Adobe InDesign (built in the USA, oddly). Customers had even refused to upgrade their hardware because Quark 4 (most skipped v5) didn't run well on newer machines that could not boot into OS 9. Apple's hardware sales suffered as a result. Apple even provided, free of charge, Apple consultants to India to assist with the port. But finally, very recently, version 6 was released and customers started to upgrade their hardware and move to version 6. During the two years, Quark went from around 90% market share to about 50%, but they still were a major player. Customers had a long history with the company and much invested in understanding the quirky and nonstandard ways that the software worked, and they did not want to give up on that investment.

Here are customer reviews of version 6:

http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/11887

Read all 261 reviews.

Among the problems are file incompatibility, draconian licensing, sluggishness, poor feature set, nonstandard UI, instability, and so forth. In addition to this, the program reuires a flakey and unreliable dial up activation scheme as well as a dongle and can only be run on one computer total. If you want to work on your lap top AND your desktop as just about everyone does, you MUST buy 2 licenses at an outlay of two thousand dollars. In addition, customer support is abysmal. for your money you are entitiled to only one customer support issue through email. If you have a second issue, you must pay $15 for each emailed-to-india question. Customers have found that Quack hangs up, refuses to answer, provides nonsensical answers, and requires you to pay multiple times in a single-issue guessing game in which they play stupid in response to your questions in order to bilk you out of additional support money, just like a phone sex operator tries to keep you on hold as long as possible.

In the last three months, of the 50% of the market who was waiting for Quark 6 to come out, most of them have upgraded their hardware and tested Quark 6. The result is amazing -- almost all customers, within days of acquiring Quark 6, bought InDesign and are in the process of migrating, never to return. Adobe's sales have flown through the roof in the meantime.

So the market leader has completely gutted their business. No one will be left to buy any version 7. It's the last straw.

So what's the point? If your competitor is outsourcing to India, encourage him. Then watch while his project stalls, costs spiral out of control, and customers leave his product in droves -- and come to you. This is surely a once in a lifetime opportunity.

As a side issue, I'll note that in the last few months it has been extremely entertaining to watch questions posted on programming lists from senior engineers with quark.co.in and other .in addresses. The questions are below that of a teh sophistication of a clueless newbie -- these guys know absolutel/y nothing whatsoever about the platform, or even about programming in general. They are basically begging westorn developers to help find all teh answers and write the code for them. These guys are, not within a hundred million miles, skilled developers who provide a competitive advantage. It is doubtful that they even have 6 months of IT training or exposure to computers total in their entire lives. They are no threat whatsoever to western developers. Of course the western developers are rather clueless in terms of business and are doing all they can to provide correct and helpful replies to these quark guys who are too lazy to even look basic stuff up on google. I personally think that's a mistake but that's just me.

Anyway - take advantage of this opportunity! Jump in there and provide software that works and decent customer service and reasonable product activation and you can decimate market goliaths who have outsourced their core competancy.

King David
Friday, November 14, 2003

so every developer in india is a stupid, incompetent fool?


fascinating opinion....remind me never to contract someone as blind, unrealistic and biased as yourself.

not to encourage the idea of outsourcing _too_ much, but if the only reason we can muster against outsourcing is "all indian developers are dumb"  then Id like to suggest its time we threw the towel in.

FullNameRequired
Friday, November 14, 2003

FullNameRequired,

I think that the point that he was getting at there was that you shouldn't outsource the core of your business.  There are many reasons not to do that, regardless of whether or not the outside organization is staffed by experienced people.

In fact, I currently work (in the US) with an Indian guy who used to be part of the team writing the new version of Quark.  He's a smart guy, but then intelligence isn't always the single largest deciding factor in the success or failure of a project.

K
Friday, November 14, 2003

I never said anyone wasn't smart and it's an absolute lie for you to characterize my statement in that fashion.

I said the quark team is not comprised of skilled developers who provide a competitive advantage. I also said they were lazy. Whether they are intelligent or competant I don't know. They seem to have done well at getting high paying jobs for themselves despite their clear lack of skill in the area they are working.

I'd say that at least qualifies as being somewhat clever.

King David
Friday, November 14, 2003

"I never said anyone wasn't smart and it's an absolute lie for you to characterize my statement in that fashion."

I feel terribly ashamed.

"I said the quark team is not comprised of skilled developers who provide a competitive advantage. I also said they were lazy."

ah, ok.  So our argument against outsourcing is:
"all indian developers are unskilled and lazy" ?

"I'd say that at least qualifies as being somewhat clever."

perhaps we could credit them with having a low, animal cunning?

...that rings a bell somewhere...

FullNameRequired
Friday, November 14, 2003

"I think that the point that he was getting at there was that you shouldn't outsource the core of your business"

<g> I suspect strongly that the point he was getting at is one that is rather less defensible.

I _do_ agree that outsourcing the core of your business is bloody stupid.

If I were a software developer and based in the states, outsourcing the actual development would be a hugely stupid move, even if we actually managed to find some skilled, hardworking indian developers ;-)

FullNameRequired
Friday, November 14, 2003

So, now you're trying to put words in my mouth that I think indians are 'animals', in your words?

If painting me a racist is the best you can do, then your response is severely lacking in substance.

I have outlined a number of matters of demonstratable fact as an object lesson and an opportunity for entrepreneurs to take advantage of unique market conditions.

King David
Friday, November 14, 2003

the story king david describes about incompetant indian developers rooking their way into jobs they don't know how to do sounds strangely reminiscent of 1998-2000 in the hot development locations in the USA.

I personally hooked up my friends who knew how to do very little technically (one was a bike mechanic, the other a substitute high school teacher) with pretty well paying sysadmin and "web production" jobs out in san francisco. They managed to learn the ropes and do a pretty good job, but there were tons of others who obtained jobs in a similar fashion and never really learned how to do anything. They just sort of floated through the chaos for a year or two and got laid off eventually, but it was suprising how long they lasted.

I would assume it is the same situation in india. Aside from the hardcore "real engineering" jobs that are going to IIT grads, I'm guessing there are a lot of people trying to scramble to get a piece of what is bubble industry over there right now. I don't really blame them for trying. If someone hires someone who is incompetant, who is really at fault? The phony programmer, or the phony hiring manager giving them a job?  At least the quark guys were posting messages to newsgroups trying to figure out how to do their jobs. Many fakers I worked with in the USA wouldn't even have the foresight or ambition to do that! 

another pseudonym
Friday, November 14, 2003

"If painting me a racist is the best you can do, then your response is severely lacking in substance."

your posting was severely lacking in substance :)

you posts are _entirely_ racist in tone, and are entirely indefensible in fact.

"I have outlined a number of matters of demonstratable fact as an object lesson and an opportunity for entrepreneurs to take advantage of unique market conditions."

you have spouted a load of racist babble and recited some (mildly interesting) story regarding incompetent _management_ of a software product.


<g> I have exact knowledge of how good indian developers are...I have recently lost a bunch of work from a client to cheaper developers based in india, I still do other work for this same client and have had regular conversations with the project manager.
he is absolutely rapt with the performance and rate of development.

<g> obviously I have mixed feelings about this, but the fact remains that although there _are_ some very good reasons not to outsource work, it can also work very well.

FullNameRequired
Friday, November 14, 2003

FullNameRequired,

I think we can assume that *most* indian developers are unskilled and unintelligent.  (pause for shock value).
Just like most american developers are unskilled and unintelligent.  I think what he meant was, India is not the magical solution to everyone's development problems.  I work with some really great indian programmers, and from what they tell me, the very best come here at the first opportunity.

Vince
Friday, November 14, 2003

"Just like most american developers are unskilled and unintelligent. "

<g> present company excepted of couse.


"I think what he meant was, India is not the magical solution to everyone's development problems."


I doubt that.  Its entirely _not_ what he said.  He was quite clear about what he was saying, and even clarified it after my initial 'misunderstanding'

FullNameRequired
Friday, November 14, 2003

"you posts are _entirely_ racist in tone, and are entirely indefensible in fact."

I didn't read them that way at all. Personally, I think you're off your rocker.

anon
Friday, November 14, 2003

"Personally, I think you're off your rocker."

interesting.  I admit thats a possibility I hadn't considered...

...hmmm....

FullNameRequired
Friday, November 14, 2003

This has nothing to do with race and everything to do with business opportunity, despite one poster's adept race-baiting, the last refuge of a scoundrel. Frankly, I am rather bored with the idiotic ways folks with nothing to say try to drag race into every discussion about offshore outsourcing, or any other subject that involves multiple cultures, races and/or nations. It's a sophmoric tactic to derail a discussion and contributes nothing, used by small minded fools with nothing to say.

That said, the story of Quark is highly relevant from a business standpoint. The absolute #1 market leader, after a complete outsourcing, has managed to completely alienate their customer base who was so loyal they put off upgrading hardware because of the promises of Quark which were not honored. Much of the failure is indeed with the business decisions made by the wostern parent company, particularly with their decision to fire their core developers who built the company and made it number 1, with their decision to base future development using decisions about per-hour development costs and ability to push around developers who won't push back, their belief that developers are interchangable widgets for whom domain knowledge and years of experience are irrelevant, and lastly and least important, their idiotic decisions regarding product activation and licensing. The licensing the customers could probably have handled. The lack of functionality, the bugs, the instability, and the extremely poor customer support were the things that forced the sum total of the vast customer base to leave in droves and in a very very short period of time ensure the absolute abandonment of the product at the sure collapse of the company that produced such a horridly flawed product.

The crows have come home to roost -- this is the legacy of outsourcing one's core competancy. This is not the first, nor will it be the last time this happens, and that fact presents an enormous business opportunity to any and all who choose to captialize on it, regardless of their color, creed or nationality.

King David
Friday, November 14, 2003

"The original owner sold the company and the new owners fired the entire development staff and outsourced all development and customer service"

There's your problem right there.

"to India."

is incidental.

www.MarkTAW.com
Friday, November 14, 2003

Damn, my post would've seemed a lot more witty if David hadn't beaten me to saying the same thing by just a few seconds.

www.MarkTAW.com
Friday, November 14, 2003

" have recently lost a bunch of work from a client to cheaper developers based in india, I still do other work for this same client and have had regular conversations with the project manager. he is absolutely rapt with the performance and rate of development."

Exactly -- competance has nothing to do with race.

King David
Friday, November 14, 2003

Bugger. I was going to say the same thing as His Majesty and Mr TAW, but I spent too long composing my reply. I'll say it anyway:

If you live in the UK, and have a mobile phone, and you call your service provider, firstly god help you, and secondly you'll probably talk to some c**t up North (Newcastle is the hotbed for this kind of thing, I believe) who has to answer the phones for any one of about 5,000,000 different companies.

Question: though they are probably European, do you think they give two shits? :)

Insert half smiley here.
Friday, November 14, 2003

FullNameRequired, your readiness to slot arguments into a narrow set of categories you've apparently got already organised is extremely worrying.

King David's point was that at least some of the offshoring is mercenary and fails to live up to the theories espoused by naive managements of all countries. He gives a very good example of his point.

If I remember rightly, you're from New Zealand. You wouldn't even be on the outsourcers' radar yet. Come back to us in 2005 with some more informed opinion.

analyst
Friday, November 14, 2003

I agree with the OP, now is the time to compete with the big companies.

While they are busy outsourcing and cutting expenses, an agile start-up can launch ahead and just write the software.

To quoteMao:

“The enemy advances, we retreat; the enemy camps, we harass; the enemy tires, we attack; the enemy retreats, we pursue.”

Bigco is retreating and tiring right now.

Matthew Lock
Friday, November 14, 2003

Did Quark really outsource all development to a group of programmers that had never worked on the software?  That's a recipe for disaster know matter how talented the group is that gets the outsourcing contract.  The guys that bought the company must have been totally clueless.

talented ass-clown
Friday, November 14, 2003

aww, come on Laurance...admit when you are wrong.

You said:

"So what's the point? If your competitor is outsourcing to India, encourage him. Then watch while his project stalls, costs spiral out of control, and customers leave his product in droves -- and come to you. This is surely a once in a lifetime opportunity."

then you said:
"They are basically begging westorn developers to help find all teh answers and write the code for them. "

and

"They are no threat whatsoever to western developers."

western?  note you did _not_ say:
"they are no threat whatsoever to _skilled_ developers"

your 'argument' against outsourcing has been made based on the idea that the developers are no good because they are not 'western'

ok, so maybe 'racist' isn't quite the correct term, but you are certainly encouraging the use of untrue and unjust stereotypes in the 'fight against outsourcing'
Despite the fact that its pretty clear _all_ of the problems were caused by incompetent management...if I as a manager hire a totally incompetent programmer, thats entirely indicative of _my_ skills, not the average skill level of the programmers in the programmer's country of origin.

there _are_ many good arguments against it, and some of them have been made here, but not by you.

FullNameRequired
Friday, November 14, 2003

"The crows have come home to roost -- this is the legacy of outsourcing one's core competancy."


_exactly_

your whinging on about the lack of skills in india, and the relative expertise of 'western' developers was absolutely a straw man.

The real problem, as you so perfectly described it is:

"Much of the failure is indeed with the business decisions made by the wostern parent company, particularly with their decision to fire their core developers who built the company and made it number 1, with their decision to base future development using decisions about per-hour development costs and ability to push around developers who won't push back, their belief that developers are interchangable widgets for whom domain knowledge and years of experience are irrelevant, and lastly and least important, their idiotic decisions regarding product activation and licensing."

The relative expertise of indian developers vs 'western' developers is utterly irrelevant.

FullNameRequired
Friday, November 14, 2003

"FullNameRequired, your readiness to slot arguments into a narrow set of categories you've apparently got already organised is extremely worrying."

:) analyst, your assumption that Ive got a narrow set of categories into which I slot arguments in a pre-organised fashion is exceptionally...well....wrong, actually.


"King David's point was that at least some of the offshoring is mercenary and fails to live up to the theories espoused by naive managements of all countries. He gives a very good example of his point."

is that 3, or 4 totally different interpretations of King Davids point?

his point was that indias developers are clueless, (he skipped lightly over the sheer stupidity shown by management) and that we should all encourage our competitors to outsource their development because of the advantage that would give us (because indias developers are so clueless)

"If I remember rightly, you're from New Zealand."

ayup.

" You wouldn't even be on the outsourcers' radar yet. Come back to us in 2005 with some more informed opinion."

LOL

FullNameRequired
Friday, November 14, 2003

..actually, to be technical about it..

My parents are _from_ New Zealand

I am _from_ america.

I _live_ in New Zealand.

<g>  anyone out there was to take a guess at which state I claim as my own?

FullNameRequired
Friday, November 14, 2003

wibble

FullNameRequired
Friday, November 14, 2003

> anyone out there was to take a guess at which state I claim as my own?

Trollville, USA?

Matthew Lock
Friday, November 14, 2003

While India does produce many good developers, most of the good ones don't stay in India.  There are hundreds of thousands of Indian developers in the US, Canada, Europe, Singapore, and Australia.  So yes, it probably is the case that the population of those still in India aren't as skilled as Western developers (including Indian developers living in the Western world), on average.

But the greater load of incompetence lies with the US managers who outsource to India and treat the offshoring as if it were some magic gold dust that would automagically bring massive savings.  They dive into it not caring to invest the proper planning and ongoing management effort required to mitigate the risks and ensure that they will get want they want, because they have already banked the savings before the project has even started.  As far as they are concerned, the offshore vendors can do no wrong, and offshoring MUST bring savings no matter what because "everybody else is doing it." Until it all blows up in their face in an undeniable way, and they have to pay a US consulting firm big bucks to come in and clean up the mess.

T. Norman
Friday, November 14, 2003

I think FullNameRequired is jumping a bit prematurely on several unclear points in the original post. When I saw it, it did sound like the original poster was comparing western developers to Indian ones.

The point is, this is one of the biggest reasons lawyers exist: to figure out what those written words really meant. Words don't always carry the meaning you think they do.


Friday, November 14, 2003

"While India does produce many good developers, most of the good ones don't stay in India.
<snip>
So yes, it probably is the case that the population of those still in India aren't as skilled as Western developers (including Indian developers living in the Western world), on average."

thats the biggest load of bollocks Ive seen since the original post. there is _no_ reason to believe that the 'best' developers leave india.
Its a fact that the _greediest_ developers leave india, and I have no doubt that some of those will be good developers, but AFAIK there is no correlation between 'greedy' and 'good'.

Thats the same kind of argument that leads to refusing to pay teachers good wages because "no one with any real talent would become a teacher, look at how little money they earn"

There is absolutely _no reason_ to believe that the average developer in india is any more, or less, talented and capable than the average developer in america (although its clear to the most impartial observer that developers in new zealand are a cut above the others...)

FullNameRequired
Friday, November 14, 2003

"When I saw it, it did sound like the original poster was comparing western developers to Indian ones."

<g> I put it to you that the reason it sounded like the original poster was comparing western developers to indian developers was _because_ the original poster was comparing western developers to indian developers.

FullNameRequired
Friday, November 14, 2003

Eczpt that many indians say that "the best developers come here".  I'd say thats a good reason to think that the best developers come here.  Are you saying that the majority of good software developers wouldn't jump at the chance to live in a more desirable country, (and yes, most indians consider the US a more desirable place to live), for more money and less harsh working conditions?

Vince
Friday, November 14, 2003

I think FullNameRequired's interpretation of the original post was entirely reasonable.

Many of the supposed problems with the latest version of Quark Xpress (e.g., firing the original coders, requiring a draconian copy protection scheme, and providing a wretched technical support policy) are problems with knuckleheaded American managers, not with Indian programmers.

However, the original poster framed this as a parable about the dangers of using "unskilled" and "lazy" Indian programmers -- deliberately framing it as an "us versus them" issue.  Funny how the title of this thread isn't "Stupid American Managers/the Quark Debacle" or "Outsourcing coders/the Quark Debacle."

Robert Jacobson
Friday, November 14, 2003

" many indians say that "the best developers come here". "

LOL..it wouldn't be indians currently living in america that are saying that, would it?

what a shock.  Its almost as surprising a result as the rugby survey carried out a week or so back....apparently 90% of australians believe that the australian rugby team is the best in the world...unbelievable, dont you think?

"I'd say thats a good reason to think that the best developers come here."

:)  If I told you that only the good new zealand developers posted to JoelOnSoftware, would you naturally assume that I was a good developer as well?


"Are you saying that the majority of good software developers wouldn't jump at the chance to live in a more desirable country, (and yes, most indians consider the US a more desirable place to live), for more money and less harsh working conditions?"

beats me :)  I _do_ know why many teachers work in relatively low-paid country schools rather than chasing the higher paid city jobs.
1.  Less Stress
2. They grew up in the country and prefer it
3. They love teaching, and genuinely dont care _that_ much about the money.
4. they have families and are either unwilling or unable to move their family.
5. They are nervous about leaving a known environment
6. By staying in the country, they are _very_ much appreciated by the surrounding the community, whereas moving to the city they become pretty much just another teacher

There are dozens of reasons for developers to decide to stay in india, none of those reasons necessarily correlate to how good they are as developers.

FullNameRequired
Friday, November 14, 2003

The bestest of the best would probably stay in India and form their own companies.  But that's only the top 0.1%, not enough to sway the totals.  And many of those will start companies in places like Silicon Valley or New York.

The set of Indian developers outside India will be generally better than those still in India because:

1. The bad developers will have a much harder time finding a job outside India, so they will be overrepresented within the developers who remain in India.

2. Those who came to the US or other developed countries as a result of being sent over by their Indian-based employers will generally be better than those still in India, because those companies will choose their best to be placed at the clients -- since that is where good impressions are more important and incompetence is harder to hide.

3.  The best will gravitate towards where they are paid the most, and will have greater opportunities to make those moves.

T. Norman
Friday, November 14, 2003

"The bestest of the best would probably stay in India and form their own companies.  But that's only the top 0.1%, not enough to sway the totals."

qualified indians _already_ represent some stupidly low % of the indian population...they are the top 0.00000001% or somesuch.

<g> a very interesting argument _could_ be made that the worst of the qualified indians are quite likely to be _better_ than the best of the qualified americans.
(I am not making that argument here however, just reminding you that statistics are not necessarily always your friend)


"1. The bad developers will have a much harder time finding a job outside India, so they will be overrepresented within the developers who remain in India."

I have seen no real evidence that this will be true...Ive seen some awfully bad developers given jobs...surely this isn't going to suddenly stop happening because the applicants are indian?


"2. Those who came to the US or other developed countries as a result of being sent over by their Indian-based employers will generally be better than those still in India, because those companies will choose their best to be placed at the clients -- since that is where good impressions are more important and incompetence is harder to hide."

Again, this is not necessarily true.  I have an employee that I use for handling the communication with clients, but that is _not_ the same employee that I trust to do the most complex developing.
Good communication skills are _far_ more important when dealing with clients IMO....most clients tend to be pretty clueless themselves, so less expertise in the tech side is not as much of a problem as being a bad communicator.
(and _many_ very good developers are surprisingly bad at communicating...I know I am)


"3.  The best will gravitate towards where they are paid the most, and will have greater opportunities to make those moves."

:)  and you know this because....?

thats just one of those myths that float around, I have seen no real evidence of its truth. 
Perhaps you could provide me with some evidence today?  <g> or do you just have faith that its true?

FullNameRequired
Friday, November 14, 2003

There are only 800 qualified developers in India? (800 million times your percentage)

The worst indian developers are better than the best american developers?

Where do you come up with this stuff?
Friday, November 14, 2003

"There are only 800 qualified developers in India? (800 million times your percentage)"

<g> I _knew_ I should have stopped and looked up the real percentages before I posted...some pedant was bound to actually do the calculation.

you got the point anyway :)

FullNameRequired
Friday, November 14, 2003

Some bad Indian developers do find positions in the US and UK.  But if you disagree with my points, then you must believe:

1. Bad developers can find jobs in the US (and other developed countries) just as easily or easier than the good ones.

2. Indian companies are equally or more likely to send their bad developers to US clients as they are to send their good ones.

3.  Good Indian developers ignore economics, and are no more likely to be willing and able to obtain lucrative job opportunities outside India than the bad Indian developers.

If you prefer to believe the above, you won't be convinced by any logical argument.

T. Norman
Friday, November 14, 2003

Er, ....

Needs to find equivalent to 'cd':

http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=lang_en&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&safe=off&threadm=e17d3672.0210170551.59e9906e%40posting.google.com&rnum=43&prev=/groups%3Fq%3D%2Bquark.co.in%26ie%3DUTF-8%26oe%3DUTF-8%26hl%3Den%26btnG%3DGoogle%2BSearch

Wants to know what application behavior when OS "throws exception", posted in a C++ NG. Does not specify the OS.

http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=lang_en&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&safe=off&threadm=bb4a662d.0308042031.78210ef2%40posting.google.com&rnum=5&prev=/groups%3Fq%3D%2Bquark.co.in%26ie%3DUTF-8%26oe%3DUTF-8%26hl%3Den%26btnG%3DGoogle%2BSearch

Wants to know how many records are returned by an ODBC "SELECT":

http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=lang_en&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&safe=off&threadm=367201c1f5bd%241c2ba150%2495e62ecf%40tkmsftngxs02&rnum=50&prev=/groups%3Fq%3D%2Bquark.co.in%26ie%3DUTF-8%26oe%3DUTF-8%26hl%3Den%26btnG%3DGoogle%2BSearch

Google really IS your friend. (that rascist bastard search engine!!!)

Bored Bystander
Friday, November 14, 2003

"1. Bad developers can find jobs in the US (and other developed countries) just as easily or easier than the good ones."

amazingly enough I suspect this is true (wait! hear me out...)

As everyone knows, its surprisingly hard to tell a good developer from a bad one...we have had endless threads here about how do to so, and what questions are best etc etc.

bottom line is that its hard, very hard.

Now, many developers who move to the US and are hired by US companies have an additional reason for being given the benefit of the doubt....cultural differences and problems with communication.

I suspect that its 10x harder for the average american who is doing the hiring hiring to tell a good foreign developer from a bad foreign developer.
Which means that I suspect that on average it _is_ easier for a bad indian developer to get a job in the us than it would be for the same developer to get a job in india. 
_and_ I suspect that "Bad developers can find jobs in the US (and other developed countries) just as easily or easier than the good ones."

"2. Indian companies are equally or more likely to send their bad developers to US clients as they are to send their good ones."

I dont actually know of any indian companies who are sending their developers to the US anyway, so I suspect this is a moot point either way.
Why _would_ any indian company send a developer to america when its cheaper and easier to keep them at home?  does this really happen?

"3.  Good Indian developers ignore economics, and are no more likely to be willing and able to obtain lucrative job opportunities outside India than the bad Indian developers."

Im really not sure that I understand what you are saying here..


I totally believe that bad developers are going to be equally _willing_ to accept job offers from outside india.
So I assume that was a badly worded statement, and that you really meant to say:

"3.  Good Indian developers ignore economics, and are no more likely to be able to _obtain_ lucrative job opportunities outside India than the bad Indian developers."

now, I have no idea what exactly economics has to do with this..economics is not a set of rules we have to follow, its the study of choices and why we make them...so lets take that word out and the statement becomes:

"3.  Good Indian developers and are no more likely to be able to _obtain_ lucrative job opportunities outside India than the bad Indian developers."

and the answer is, of course, that I have absolutely no idea...but given the difficulties in judging someones talent when you are living in a different country I would say that is true, at least initially.
In fact, I suspect that the indians who find it most easy to get jobs outside of india are those who write and speak the best english, not necessarily those who are the best at developing.

"If you prefer to believe the above, you won't be convinced by any logical argument."


thats not entirely true..I am perfectly willing to be convinced by a logical argument that takes into account _all_ the relevant information.

FullNameRequired
Friday, November 14, 2003

hey bored bystander...

it seems a little odd to be claiming that google is racist, are you trying to make a point of some sort?

<g> you've provided a few links to various stupid questions...apparently all made by developers with who work woith quark.

what _exactly_ does that prove?

FullNameRequired
Friday, November 14, 2003

Robert Jacobson, the Dumb Managers responsible for the Quark fiasco were Indian entrepreneurs. This again supports King David's point, which FNR was so keen to misinterpret.

King David's point was that offshoring as a process is dumb and does not deliver the benefits management thinks. I did not detect that KD was attacking Indian developers as such; he was attacking the process and the trend.

analyst
Saturday, November 15, 2003

FullNameRequired, if I have to spell my meaning out for you, I ... decline. It's just too much trouble.

It's Friday night. Have a beer.

Or 12.

Bored Bystander
Saturday, November 15, 2003

Bored,

Oh you are such a wicked boy! So very very naughty!

:-))

Good show old boy
Saturday, November 15, 2003

"FullNameRequired, if I have to spell my meaning out for you, I ... decline. It's just too much trouble."

?? I really wish you would.

I _never_ made the claim that quark hired competent programmers.  Its pretty clear looking at the list of bugs that they did not.

The _point_ is that they hired incompetent programmers because the managers themselves were incompetent.
That in _no_ way reflects badly on programmers living in india...anymore than it would reflect badly on programemrs living in america if I found and hired some incompetent ones from there.

Incompetent programmers exist and often thrive (amazingly enough) in every country I have ever visited.

so..._what_ was your point exactly?


"It's Friday night. Have a beer.

Or 12."

saturday night here :) Ive just been looking up some carbon calls so my app can be notified when someone moves or alters files in the users home folder of osx.
Ill need a whiskey tonight....I need t ofortify myself against mondays work....debugging a port of my application to windows <shudder>

FullNameRequired
Saturday, November 15, 2003

"Robert Jacobson, the Dumb Managers responsible for the Quark fiasco were Indian entrepreneurs. This again supports King David's point, which FNR was so keen to misinterpret.

King David's point was that offshoring as a process is dumb and does not deliver the benefits management thinks. I did not detect that KD was attacking Indian developers as such; he was attacking the process and the trend."


no, that was _not_ his point.

KD was quite specific about his attacks on indian developers.

What is impressing me is the number of people who are willing to read more into his posts than he actually said.

KD was _very_ specific about his views on indian developers, go and reread both his initial post and one or two others that he made.

If the Dumb Managers responsible for the entire mess were Indian Entrepreneurs (I have no idea whether this is true or not, but Im perfectly wiling to believe it) then that _still_ proves nothing about the quality of indian developers (or about indian managers of course).

I do not care if every employee in the sodding quark company were indian (<g> and its beginning to sound as if they were), it proves nothing.
Indian developers living in india are _not_ necessarily lazy, they are _not_ necessarily unskilled and they are _not_ necessarily less well qualified than their western equivalents.

Pull your heads out of your asses people, and recognise the things you are saying for what they are.

FullNameRequired
Saturday, November 15, 2003

Full Name,

Do me a favor. Go read all 261 reviews I posted the link to:

http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/11887

Go ahead. I don't think I have ever, in my many years as a developer, have seen reviews this bad. And this is for a product that many of these folks were absolutely devoted fans of, up to the last on-shore release. You tell me that the product described in these 261 reviews was developed by a team of experienced developers who knew what they were doing? You really going to make that argument?

Here's what I'm saying: there's plenty of these stories playing out and getting in the process to play out. Some of them are in the fields a  few of us are pretty good at. This is a great chance to do like Adobe is doing and like a previous poster eloquently stated -- use agile methods to speed develop superior products and take the market share away from these big corporations that are destroying their bread and butter by getting rid of developers with experience, expertise and domain knowledge, and replacing them with some sort of weird overseas fantasy date. The people who are going to be the next generation of market leaders are the little guys here in the states, in romania, in russia, in norway, in finland, sweden and these other weird little pockets of 'western thinking' developers who know how to do the start up thing. Yeah, I'm excluding the india mainland from this because I don't see any innovation whatsoever coming out of india right now. However, I do see innovation coming from indians who happen to live in the US and Britain. So, yeah i am saying some things about indian developers in india. But it has nothing to do with race.

King David
Saturday, November 15, 2003

"Indian developers living in india are _not_ necessarily lazy, they are _not_ necessarily unskilled and they are _not_ necessarily less well qualified than their western equivalents."

I agree with you. However, there is overwhelming evidence that these things are true for enough of the quark team to doom the product. Sure, I guess it's all the managers fault.

Many developers in india are hardworking and skilled. Obviously true. In the case of business ware, the indians guys may indeed be much better than their western counterparts. Maybe so; I don't know but I'm willing to entertain the notion.

But developing GUI apps that are market leaders does not seem to be something I am seeing a lot of superior products come out of india right now. Maybe your experience is different.

King David
Saturday, November 15, 2003

Nobody seems to have mentioned that Quark was a lousy piece of software in many respects anyway.

It made Egyptian hieroglyphics user-friendly.

It did however have the market, mainly because it was the most accurate in positioning - or so I'm told.

I'm pretty certain that when the new version crashed  thousands of soon-to-be-ex-Quark users went off over the weekend and followed BB's advice about the beers.

If you sacked your whole development team and started with a new one you would have a disaster even if you took them from the same suburb.

The guy who made the comparison with the dotcom days is nearer the mark. There is a shortage of qualified experienced programmers in India and there are vast amounts of people who have taken training courses but don't have that great an idea. Start throwing people at the project and you're going to end up with a load of unqualified people as well as good people. It is well-documented in "The Mythical Man Month" but IT companies keep making the same mistakes. Add to that the fact that Indian salaries for programmers are low and the temptation to hire incompetents becomes even greater.

And I would be worried if the incompetents have started asking questions on Google groups. My limited experience with Indians suggests that this is the one thing they are loathe to do; if they keep at it the incompetent developers will end up being competent.

The question of poorly worded questions does bring up the one advantage US and other native English speaking developers have; the fact that we don't have the added overhead of working in a foreign or second language when we are researching our job. Often badly worded questions are the result of linguistic incompetence rather than  the result of lack of domain knowledge, or simple nounce.

As for whether King David's post is racist change every ocurrence of  "Indians" to "blacks" and see what it sounds like.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, November 15, 2003

"Do me a favor. Go read all 261 reviews I posted the link to"

yeah, I did.

<g> it makes interesting reading for all sorts of reasons...(particularly interesting were the number who were _already_ using indesign, also the english-as-a-second-langauge posts giving quark 5 out of 5 were a bit of a laugh as well..)

overall though, pretty grim.


"You tell me that the product described in these 261 reviews was developed by a team of experienced developers who knew what they were doing?"

nope. (I assume you posted this before noticing my earlier post)

"This is a great chance to do like Adobe is doing
<snip>
use agile methods to speed develop superior products and take the market share"

this chance has _always_ been around, but I agree...its still here.
Its one of those endlessly interesting things about software IMO...I can create an app that 60-80% of the work the bigger, more established software packages do pretty damn quickly relatively speaking.


"So, yeah i am saying some things about indian developers in india. But it has nothing to do with race."

umm....what? 
Im just saying some things about black people in africa...but it has nothing to do with race.......Im just making some statements about jewish people in israel...but it has nothing to do with race....

...next post..

"However, there is overwhelming evidence that these things are true for enough of the quark team to doom the product. "

absolutely.  <g> I will not now, or ever, argue with you about the competence of the quark team.
"Sure, I guess it's all the managers fault."
yes, it is.  _entirely_ the managers fault.
<g> anyone can hire an incompetent programmer, but only if they are sufficiently incompetent.


"Many developers in india are hardworking and skilled. Obviously true."

many?  Ill bet you a dime to a dollar that the % of hardworking and skilled programmers in india is _exactly_ the same as that in america.  or so close to it that it makes no odds.
people are people, wherever you go.

"But developing GUI apps that are market leaders does not seem to be something I am seeing a lot of superior products come out of india right now."

?? or, as far as I know, out of ireland, germany, china, japan...hell, its pretty hard t othink of _any_ country that is producing a lot of superior products.
<g> but then, I can think of only..maybe...3 of the hundreds of products Ive seen and used that would be classed as 'superior'

FullNameRequired
Saturday, November 15, 2003

Not surprised to see Mr. Jones playing the race card once again.

So... you are familiar with projects that have been outsourced to blacks?

Last time I checked, India was a country. I am not sure that there even IS some mythical indian 'race' as you suggest. My Indian friends and neighbors claims India to be quite the melting pot.

King David
Saturday, November 15, 2003

Give me a freakin break with your examples!

Black people in subsaharan Africa are at much higher risk of getting AIDS than black people in America. True or false? Racist to say so?

Jews in Israel are at much higher risk of being slaughtered by Palestinian suicide bombers that Jews in America. True or false? Racist to say so?

Indian developers in America and Britain produce far better software than indian developers in india. True or false? Racist to say so?

What exactly is this fascination you have with issues of race? Do you see the entire world in terms of race issues?

King David
Saturday, November 15, 2003

Actually, the Germans produce some pretty fantastic GUI apps. Very stable ones too. So do the israelis for that matter, and the Russians. I haven't seen any Chinese or Irish software so I don't know about those places.

King David
Saturday, November 15, 2003

what was the argument again here? that indians can't program? that new zealanders aren't a bunch of sheep buggerers, they are just a pack of politically correct bores?  that USA programmers are a bunch of lazy teamster wannabes? what else is fucking new? the french are a bunch of decadent bureaucratic chain-smokers??

all i know, is that if you are writing quark version 6.0 or a clone of quark, or whatever, your life is fucked already, and if you get outsourced to antarctica, that is what you fucking deserve. i say let the indians take what they can get while they can.

and stephen jones, you really need to get out of IT, and into writing humorous postmodern realist fiction. really.  your shit is good, and you need to exploit your talents. the only reason i read joel on software is to see what you say next. fuck these IT dweebs, and get your books in at borders next to murakami and david sedaris. I'll gladly pay for the hardcover edition.

another pseudonym
Saturday, November 15, 2003

since its late, and i'm drunk, i'll chime in on kind dave's last diatribe. yeah, the germans produce some bad-ass software.  tight audio applications, DSP intensive, GUIS that don't crash that NO fucking american or indian or kiwi could ever come up with in their monst confused technological WET DREAM.

wanna know why? because germans secretly (or not so secretly) HATE technology. they don't want to put on a wife-beater tank top and spend a sunday afternoon with a 30 pack of coors lite canned beer tweaking their 1970s BMW 2002. they just want to get their shit WORKING, and have it NOT CRASH, so they can get along with their lives, having decadent group sex and pretending to be normal middle class human beings.

so they get SHIT DONE, it just WORKS, and they go to the beer garden and get sloshed. they don't spend endless hours debating whether or not C++ metaprogramming ruins the object oriented paradigm, they just DO IT. yeah. same with some of the swedes. what was i talking about again?

another pseudonym
Saturday, November 15, 2003

You were talking about Cubase and Reason my friend.

I agree with you completely
Saturday, November 15, 2003

"My Indian friends and neighbors claims India to be quite the melting pot."

LOL...some of your best friends are indian, I have no doubt...

"What exactly is this fascination you have with issues of race? Do you see the entire world in terms of race issues?"

?? what is _your_ fascination with the indians in the quark story?  the poor sods weren't even relevant.

Your initial post is quite clear in its descriptions and its reasoning.
<g> your more recent posts have shown that you are very capable of reasoned discussion.....its a shame you didn't think your initial post through a little more carefully.

"Actually, the Germans produce some pretty fantastic GUI apps. Very stable ones too. So do the israelis for that matter, and the Russians."

:) you obviously have used rather more software than I have.
Id be interested in seeing some examples of german, israeli and russian software, do you have the names and/or urls?

FullNameRequired
Saturday, November 15, 2003

"that new zealanders aren't a bunch of sheep buggerers"

hey! thats a cultural custom.....dont knock what you dont understand.


" i say let the indians take what they can get while they can."

amen brother.  let capitalist rules rein, and the devil take the hindermost.

FullNameRequired
Saturday, November 15, 2003

"Yeah, I'm excluding the india mainland from this because I don't see any innovation whatsoever coming out of india right now."

"Indian developers in America and Britain produce far better software than indian developers in india. True or false? Racist to say so?"

I don't know if it's true or not, but you seem to think it is based on one product and some general "feeling" you have.

If it is true, you're going to have to come up with more than that and some posts on mailing lists. Sheesh.


Saturday, November 15, 2003

german software:

www.native-instruments.de

www.ableton.com

www.steinberg.net

www.emagic.de

ETC.

another pseudonym
Saturday, November 15, 2003

King David, thats classic.  (the post about being racist).    FullNameRequired, I'm not quite sure what your arguing.  Are you sayin in general, India produces equivelant software with America (or any other "western country"), at a much cheaper cost? 

Vince
Saturday, November 15, 2003

Dear King David,
                          Possibly you're not being racist - just obtuse.

                            A company makes some daft decisions and goes under. The fact that the dud software was written in India means to you that we ought to encourage all our competitors to use Indian programmers because they'll produce crap.

                              I think the manager in charge was American. Why don't we persuade all our competitiors to get American managers because it is well known that they are lazy, stupid, and dishonest.

                            Siemens turned out some total fiascos for the British government. Do we claim Germans just can't do software? And lets not talk about Pentagon toilets.

                            And what is all this crap about "western" programmers. Sounds like sub-standard Kipling. Indian programmers do not intone mantras while they are programming legs akimbo in the Lotus position (though they might do if they lived in California).

                           

Stephen Jones
Saturday, November 15, 2003

Another recent post questioned the availability of good software work in Melbourne (Australia).

Traditionally, one of Melbourne's largest IT employers has been Telstra, the dominant national Telco. Their latest bee-in-the-bonnet is to outsource as much work as possible to Infosys, an Indian company, as a means of saving costs.

As one person put it ... "There's too many chiefs, let's get a few more Indians"

Telstra dumped most of their contractors with knowledge, and the few remaining are not exactly rushing to share their expertise with the know-nothing fools that have been brought in to take their place.

Yup, LOTS of good job opportunities coming up in Melbourne, fixing the incredible mess which will result from Telstra's Indian Adventure.

HeWhoMustBeConfused
Saturday, November 15, 2003

The Indian comapanies are three or four really big outfits.

So think - would you outsource to an Indian IBM. Sure you'll save n wages, but you'll lose on the overhead.

Now, there are plenty of jobs where the saving on wages is considerable, and the loss on overheads is small, because you'd probably have them in India, or whatever. And there are other jobs where the idea is damm stupid.

But let's get one thing clear. Outsourcing to India is working, and will work IN CERTAIN CASES. Accept it and learn to make the best of it.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, November 15, 2003

>"Why _would_ any indian company send a developer to america when its cheaper and easier to keep them at home?  does this really happen?"

If you don't know that this happens and happens a lot, you are clearly out of touch with this industry.  There are tens of thousands of Indian programmers on L-1 and H-1 visas working in the US employed by Indian-based companies.  They are sent to the US to work at clients, where they can be billed out at $60-$90/hr instead of the $20-$40/hr they can bill for in India.

T. Norman
Saturday, November 15, 2003

"Outsourcing to India is working, and will work IN CERTAIN CASES."

Really, I don't have a problem with the cases where it actually works.  My problem is with the many cases where it doesn't work, with management continuing to be in denial that it is isn't working or ignoring the possibility that it won't work, and/or neglecting to do the things to actually make it work.  It just becomes another form of the dot-com gold rush, where everybody was ignoring reality and chasing after this supposedly guaranteed pot of gold that was elusive in reality.  And these kinds of fantasy gold rushes lead to economic meltdown when reality surfaces.

If offshore outsourcing does work, bringing actual net savings, stock prices will go up and more money will be freed up in the economy for something else.  It may mean I won't have a job as a developer in the US, but I have many other career options.

However, when outsourcing does NOT work, the shareholders lose because of the money wasted, customers lose because of poorer products and service, employees lose because they were laid off to facilitate the outsourcing, and the economy loses because failed outsourcing represents money being sent out of the country without something of equal or better value coming back in. In that case the only winners are the executives who were able to collect their bonuses before it all came tumbling down, or benefit from golden parachutes afterwards.  And perhaps the local companies who get paid to clean up the mess.

T. Norman
Saturday, November 15, 2003

Dear T. Norman,
                        You're the prime mover on discussion of outsourcing. Sure management often fucks up. and it usre ain't tellingm,and if you value your job you ain't either. But if the attitude of the Usean progammers on this forum is anything to go by, we are going to see a mess. Because nobody presented with offshoriing is going to look at it and say when it will work and when not. It's the old crying wolf scenario.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, November 15, 2003

I have to agree with King David on one thing, the quality of intipendent German development shops is quite impressive. There is a slew of high-quality shareware comming out of Germany these days (several great Tablet PC utilities I use are German)


Saturday, November 15, 2003

I have to admit I didn't read all the above posts.

Coming back to the initial statements of King David I'd say that, yes, it's not fair to blame "lazy" or "unskilled" Indian programmers, and, yes, the problem lies in the western managers who decided firing all former development staff would be a good idea. But then I ask myself: that Indian programmers had some 2 years for the development (minus planning/debugging/etc.), and Quark sure could hire some thousands of experienced programmers for their money, and they ended up with such a poor quality? Come on, there's more to this than "those were just code monkeys, given enough time and manpower Indian companies can produce excellent software".

Yes, I still do wait for one excellent piece of large application software being developed in India and being competitive. It's not that Quark is just one single failure among myriads of success stories. It's that it is the only large application from India that I know of. (Feel free to provide examples for other applications.)

Johnny Bravo
Saturday, November 15, 2003

=========================================

That's the 10 foot pole I'm not going to touch this thread with.

www.MarkTAW.com
Saturday, November 15, 2003

Johnny Bravo,

I believe they had five years total to do the port -- Apple made sure Quark was set up with very early alphas of OS X. Also, ninety percent of the Carbon porting issues were ready to be tackled many years before (OS 8.1).

The two years was the period they overran their delivery estimate.

Again, it is absolutely certain that with at team of 3 or 4 American, yes American Mac developers with real Mac and other programming experience, that the entire port should have taken six months at the absolute most. Very few new features were added -- version 6 was basically a straight OS X port of version 5. And this sort of port -- the carbon port, is not like porting from Linux to OS 9 or Amiga to Windows 3 -- the port involves replacing some direct field accesses with wrappers, and other mechanical operations that are no-brainers.

This stuff about blaming the managers is amazing to me since it is very clear that the developers here were not skilled and were definitely lazy -- helplessly asking other developers in forums for solutions that were only a google away or basic knowledge that should be known is not what I expect out of programmers who take the initiative. The questions they asked were not ones that would be asked of developers with even a small amount of experience.

King David
Saturday, November 15, 2003

King David, has this story made it into the anti-offshoring web sites or blogs, and/or has it been submitted to "effedcompany.com"?

It seems pretty ripe to splatter all over the place, and should be.

Bored Bystander
Saturday, November 15, 2003

New Zealand - where men are men and sheep are scared.

- Traditional Australian saying

echidna
Saturday, November 15, 2003

hi ya kingie

"This stuff about blaming the managers is amazing to me since it is very clear that the developers here were not skilled and were definitely lazy"

so...the managers hired developers who were very clearly not skilled and were definitely lazy, and you _dont_ think that the managers should be blamed?

instead you are using the fact that incompetent (and lazy) indian developers exist to go from the specific to the general case, and make the claim that indian developers are lazy and unskilled (until they move to america, at which point they magically become hardworking and skilled).


slap me silly and call me a penguin, but you are looking at the world through some interestingly shaped filters.

FullNameRequired
Saturday, November 15, 2003

People need to read the actual technical questions that the Quark developers are posting to the various mailing lists and newsgroups.

The quality of the developers working on QuarkXPress is shockingly low.  I'm not quite as optimistic as King David; as I see it, a team of 10 highly experienced Mac developers could have done the port to Mac OS X in about 9-12 months.  That's 9-12 months from the first alpha seeding of Mac OS X to Apple's major vendors in late 1999 or early 2000.  (I'm not talking the first wide-scale developer seeding, I'm talking the super-selective seeds to companies like Adobe and Microsoft.  Note that I have no actual inside knowledge of the timing of these seed, it's just reasonable conjecture on my part as a long-time Mac developer.)

Quark could have actually shipped QuarkXPress for Mac OS X concurrently with Mac OS X 10.0's release in March 2001, or at the latest by Mac OS X 10.1's release in September 2001.  Instead, it took them until spring 2003 -- fully two years after the first *full customer release* of Mac OS X.  That's like waiting until 2008 to release a Longhorn-compatible release of your software, even though Longhorn alphas are being released now, and Longhorn is theoretically going to ship in 2005-2006!

It's not actually a management problem.  Even with completely incompetent management, with marginally competent software developers they should have been able to do the job and do it acceptably over the course of about 18 months from their first alpha seed in late 1999 or early 2000.

Fundamentally, the problem is that at least some portion of Quark's developers:

(a) Don't understand the fundamentals of software development.  Things like checking error codes from calls that can return errors - really basic stuff.

(b) Don't understand debugging.  Things like stepping through code to determine where a failure occurred.

(c) Don't understand that different platforms have different capabilities and APIs.  For instance, they ask where OLE is on the Mac, how to access data from XLS files, and so on.  Often they will say things like "What's the equivalent of this particular Windows OS call?"

(d) Don't understand advanced features they're using.  Things like writing threaded code without understanding how to do so and the tradeoffs involved.  Quark developers have actually asserted that thread performance on Mac OS X is horrible and makes everything slower (it's not and it doesn't, it only does when there's lots of contention - like on any platform).  Quark developers have actually asked how to require all threads run on a single CPU because "otherwise our code crashes on multi-CPU systems."

(e) Don't participate in the actual culture of the platform they're writing the software for.  The people working on QuarkXPress for Mac OS X are obviously not Mac OS X users at all, much less power users who use the machines in their daily (non-work) life.  And you can't develop great Mac software without being a skilled Mac user, because you won't know about all the little things Mac users expect.  (They actually use 255-character UTF8 pathnames internally!  if you don't understand why this is bad, you're neither a Mac user nor developer.  But let's just say that Mac power users, particularly in publishing, *like* their nested folders.)

(f) Don't seem to ever actually read documentation or do even the most minimal amount of research using Google or the sample code installed with the Mac OS X developer tools.

This is why it took Quark probably 3 years from when they first received a very early seed of Mac OS X to when they finally released QuarkXPress 6.0 for Mac OS X, why it is such a terrible product, and why I say their developers are the problem.  All of the above is based on postings made by Quark employees to public Mac development mailing lists and newsgroups.

Similar issues are what caused me to start offering an outsourcing vendor evaluation service.  There are some teams that will be able to handle a software or IT project better than others from a technical standpoint; the point of my service is to evaluate a company's narrowed-down list of vendors and rank them.  (In a completely platform- and geography-agnostic fashion.)  I'm hoping others start offering a similar service - near as I can tell, there are a ton of companies that could make very good use of it.

Chris Hanson
Sunday, November 16, 2003

Bored,

I do admit that I am absolutely fascinated by this story as I have watched it unfold up close right in front of me. I think I am the  first to really lay tho whole story out in one place, but i don't fallow the boards you mention. You're welcom to post this thread wherever you think people would find it valuable. As I said, although the dynamics of it being another of the Great Failures of Software Engineering and is worthy of a interesting movie of the week even or perhaps a novel, complete with all the drama and excitement, the thing I reall ywant to do is tp off people to the opportunity for real small groups to take over the big companies. it's not dissimilar to the current amazing opportunity of small, independent musicians, to gain market share while the big record companies are messing up big time.

(And to others, my comment about encouraging your competition to outsource is basically facetious -- I don't really expect any one to try this... building a product to compete against the guys who are currently shooting their own feet should be enough to keep any one busy and if you don't know how to develop, you can capitalize on this situation by playing the markets.)

King David
Sunday, November 16, 2003

Chris is a much more experienced developer than I am and so I trust his estimate of 10 people 9-12 months considerably more than my own estimate. One of the small number of APIs that was completely replaced in Carbon was that of printing support and a huge amount of Quark's architecture is its extremely fine control of printing so it's not as cut and dried as I implied.

My 256 char UTF-8 path names aren't good I know (is the use of UTF-8 and fopen going to fail on non-english locales?) but how else can I make use of the ansi standard file library routines like fopen so that I can use fprintf as well?

King David
Sunday, November 16, 2003

"It's not actually a management problem.  Even with completely incompetent management, with marginally competent software developers they should have been able to do the job and do it acceptably over the course of about 18 months from their first alpha seed in late 1999 or early 2000."

<sigh>

it _is_ a management problem.

Look at it this way, if in my capacity as manager I hired 12 parrots to write my code, and those parrets failed to do so....is it their inadequacies that are at fault, or my own?

on the other hand, Im glad KD has moved away from tarring all indian developers with his brush....the (clearly incompetent) quark developers are no more indicative of the talent of the average indian developer than KDs opinions are of the average samoan.

FullNameRequired
Sunday, November 16, 2003

One of the main problems with Indian developers is that all of them have not grown up with computers as users. And even fewer of them will have experience of Macs.

There is a Quark user base in India among journalists, but I doubt if anybody thought of hiring consultants from it.

India no doubt offers a great opportunity to fuck it all up grandiosely but the fact is that if a company hires a load of clearly incompetent developers, then the fault lies with the guy in charge.

If an Indian company produced something that came in under-budget and on time, you wouldn't suggest all development should go off to India, and the same applies in the opposite case.

Stephen Jones
Sunday, November 16, 2003

"what a shock.  Its almost as surprising a result as the rugby survey carried out a week or so back....apparently 90% of australians believe that the australian rugby team is the best in the world...unbelievable, dont you think?"

Ha ha!  At least the second best.

Proud Aussie!
Sunday, November 16, 2003

"Ha ha!  At least the second best."

<G>  I couldn't believe it, our entire team choked from the second the aussies got that first try.

bunch of flaming women.

gah!  now the only sporting achievement we have left is in ...that game women play...like basketball but different....

personally I thought that the ausie rugby tactic of using skill and courage was a little unfair...our entire teams been lacking in both those traits ever since rugby went professional in this country.

FullNameRequired
Sunday, November 16, 2003

The problems labelled a to f turn up all over the place. You'd be surprised at the number of supposed UNIX developers I've met who aren't UNIX users. And Windows developers who aren't windows users...

It IS really hard to develop decent Mac software until you become a mac power user -- I know, I had to do this: In a few months I'd got the hang of the mac "philosophy" and the software started coming out mac-like. And once you understand the user experience, the OS starts making sense.
What concerns me is that it's not hard -- it takes a few months of daily use to become a mac power user. It takes  the same sort of time to become a UNIX power-user and then suddenly the software starts working WITH the os instead of against it.

And yet so few developers seem to manage it. or even seem to want to manage it.

Katie Lucas
Monday, November 17, 2003

Hi Chris,
May be this is too late to talk about your post that you wrote almost 3 months back. Sorry, that i am seeing it today only. But, may be I would still like to share my views being having been one of the developer in QXP 6.0

The most  important point thing i feel is you have  based your opinion about indian developers based on the postings put on the newsgroup. I would have agreed if you meant it for XPress  developers. But, Generalizing it to indian developers is may be stretching too far. Somewhere in the post, it seems you have also disagreed on incompetent management. But,  I know for sure is that its true.
Let me tell you some facts about quark's india development centre.
* Its situated in a place called Mohali in India, where its the only software developer company.I bet, you have not heard of it in context of outsourcing. The reason for choosing this was said to be Fred's right hand whose native place was this area. The company started with few locals on a very measly salary(yes, measly even by indian standards). Even now, the company's almost all developers are the ones who earn one-third  of their counterpart averages. Recently the company has hired about 60 fresh developers(?? or whatever  you can call) for 80$ monthly salary. This is the truth about  the developers. Average in other parts of India is still 200 times more than this. Do, you still really blame the developers here? They are definitely not the ones who should be handling this code, but whoz to blame?
* The company in india is run by an indian who is right hand of Fred and just a system admin guy. He lured Fred into this trap and he fell. This is a comapny where anyone gets a job because manager wants his relative in some job. There exists a s/w company where everyone bows in front of his senior and expect his juniors to bow to him. Its not the guys fault, but the way company culture has been built in.
* Have you ever seen postings by so many other indians from wipro.com, celstream.com or whatever.Do you still feel the same about the indian s/w developers.

I would like to say that outsourcing has to work for India, as they can provide best of talent at a relatively cheaper cost. Dont mistake Quark as a lesson in outsourcing. This company is suffering because it has 1000 times worse work atmosphere than its in Quark US. And, I am sure that even Quark US would figure at the bottom of any list of 'million best companies to work for'.

EQ
Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Looks like no matter how you slice it, Quark will lose. I've called their tech support several times since the move to India, and have always been disappointed. They just don't have answers. They read boilerplate from the manual to me. Their learning curve is steep.

Quark was never user sensitive. They're even less so now. Their 'hold up' in moving to OS X, for whatever reason, cost them dearly. They will lose even more business as time goes by.

Some users are blindly Quark-addicted. They don't want to learn a new program. But InDesign has been in the right place at the right time, and Adobe is much more responsive. InDesign will catch on.

Good-bye Quark XPress. My very large publishing employer will move officially to InDesign this year. I won't miss it at all.

namewithheldbyrequestthanks
Friday, April 23, 2004

There is something to the original post that needs some thought. It may _appear_ on the surface to be a ‘racist’ statement. Keep your mind open long enough to allow this thought to enter and be processed. Then come to a conclusion.

Every culture has strengths and weaknesses. Does this make one better than the other? No. The multicultural folks are always reminding us to celebrate diversity. Yet, if one has the audacity to actually enumerate and define what makes us different, we’re labeled a racist! How can we ‘celebrate’ an unknown?

There are differences between western and eastern cultures. No, it’s not fair to paint each individual person with such a broad brush; there are always personal exceptions to cultural norms. However, cultures differ. These differences engender competitive advantages and disadvantages. To deny this is to miss a large variable in calculating the current “outsourcing” equation.

Even through I’m a native US citizen and resident of the Pacific Northwest, I’ve traveled through southern India. I spent about a month there. Even with this direct and personal experience, I know very little about Indian culture. So, I’ll talk about US culture.

US culture can be defined as the most ingenious, inventive and technologically advanced culture on earth, perhaps even the most advanced in the history of the world. Microwaves, atomic power, micro computing, drive throughs, smart bombs, portable kidney dialias machines, the light bulb, maned space travel…  shall I continue?

Software is a neonate thing. Here, in the most inventive culture on the planet, we’re still trying to figure out how to do it the right way. We’re still trying to discover how to make software as boring and predictable as, say, mechanical engineering. US culture, therefore, is the best suited culture for software in its present state in the engineering evolutionary process.  In twenty thirty to fifty years, software will be defined enough that other cultures will be able to take it and advance it beyond our cultural limitations. We’re great at inventing but we aren’t so great in many, many other areas.

For software to eventually realize its full potential for us humans, it will “take a village” to mature it properly. However, at this present time, software is in the right place in the village hut called the US. Of course, there are extremely smart and inventive people outside of the US, but their surrounding cultures either restrict or even prevent the full expression of their gift. That's why so many gifted people come here. In the US, even modestly talented people can own a patent or a start up. It’s a cultural thang.

So, call me a racist.

Michael A. Smith
Thursday, July 22, 2004

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