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Good Software Takes Ten Years. Get Used To it.


Christopher Wells
Thursday, July 11, 2002

Tetris is a really great game. Im sure it did not take Ten Years.

If every problem is a nail, its great to have a hammer.


James Ladd
Thursday, July 11, 2002

You know, that was an extremely good article.  I'm emailing it to a few coworkers now.

Tayssir J.
Thursday, July 11, 2002

Joel's point of view is based on his experience with desktop software development. My view is that this is not true for all kinds of software. Read what Paul Graham has to say about server-based software particularly with regard to development, testing, releases and so on.

Does good software take ten years? with most depends.

Jagdish Bajaj
Thursday, July 11, 2002

Winzip is a great piece of software. It certainly did not take ten years to write, I could probably compile a list of at least 100 software applications that are 'great' but did'nt take 10 years to write, but who can be bothered?

Friday, July 12, 2002

Joel's point was that software takes time to mature into good software.

Winzip is a prime example of this, I'm sure it's been around for close to 10 years now, as I started using it on Windows 3.1.

Matthew Lock
Friday, July 12, 2002


Winzip was awarded:
"WinApp of the Month" PC Computing, 3/1992.

Matthew Lock
Friday, July 12, 2002

And still WinZIP can be improved.

Russian Developer
Friday, July 12, 2002

heh.  Like it or not, in the scope that Joel was talking about, PKZIP was a FEATURE of a Word or Excel or Windows.

It's easy to get a feature right the first time; the problem is combining a series of features to create a complete system.

In other words:

"[Large software systems] take ten years to write; get used to it."

Add the [], and I think Joel becomes a bit more correct.

BTW: I started using PKZIP around 1992, for DOS.  It rocked.  As I've read them, most of the windowed stuff that has appeared since is junk. :-)

Matt H.
Friday, July 12, 2002

Great!  Only 9 more years until I'll consider purchasing CityDesk!

its obvious
Friday, July 12, 2002

But 10 years is certainly no guarantee. Lotus Notes is 12 years old now.

Friday, July 12, 2002

Note that it's not necessarily technical issues that take ten years to smooth out.  Users take ten years to learn a product and steer the company.

Dave Winer's stuff doesn't seem that complex technically (of course I don't know his stuff very well) but Dave needs to solicit lots of feedback, guide and be guided by his community.

Napster could have used a few extra years.  Tetris probably needed some time too for sliding pieces, good pacing, two-player simultaneous, etc.

This is an interview from the guy behind Bitkeeper, a sort of distributed CVS:
He believes he could easily spend 20 years easily knocking away at it.

Friday, July 12, 2002

Winzip is a utility, not an application. HUGE difference.

Mr. Obvious
Sunday, July 14, 2002

What constitutes an application vs. utility?  Hmmm?

Nat Ersoz
Monday, July 15, 2002

A utility is an application that fails to come up with a decent GUI after 10 years ;-).

Just me (Sir to you)
Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Utilities are designed (generally) to perform one task in order to solve a problem, whereas applications perform  many tasks (sometimes using multiple utilities) to solve many problems.  I think developing WinZip or WSFTP would be much less complicated than MS Excel or Photoshop...

More complexity = more features = more opportunity for something to be missed.

Jeff MacDonald
Wednesday, July 17, 2002

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