The Trouble With Software (and what to do about it)


“Why Would You Want To Do That?”

Posted in General Overview,Order Management Systems by Ernie Schell on August 30, 2011

Many years ago I was asked by a software development firm to meet with their programmers to discuss an order management module they were working on. One of the developers, who had over ten years of experience writing code, had hard-coded a drop-down box for the customer’s “prefix,” i.e., Mr., Ms., Mrs, Miss, etc. He had, in fact, only coded for Mr., Miss, and Mrs. I suggested to him that he should really make this a user-definable drop-down list, rather than hard coding, and his response was a very indignant “Why¬† would you want to do THAT?” I looked at him for a moment and responded, “because for one thing, many female customers prefer Ms. to either Miss or Mrs., and for another, you are ignoring Dr., Prof., The Honorable, and a long list of other possibilities. Even then, he resisted, but ultimately gave in to my suggestion. But I was a bit nervous that his blinkered thinking might have compromised other areas of the module, and applied myself even harder to smoking them out.

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