Monday, February 05, 2007

Incremental changes

We made three small changes to the service last week. Small enough that probably nobody noticed. I remember when software development was like loading an omnibus with passengers for a guided excursion. There alwasy a concern that some notable passenger would miss the bus. Finally the development build up would lead to a laborious and risky period of alpha- and beta-testing, revised documentation and eventually a new release would be shipped to customers (floppy disks and all). If it worked properly there were no complaints but there was a huge amount of upheaval and everyone noticed what was going on. What a pleasure that software development is no longer like that.

One of the minor enhancements is that our feedback form now gives our audience the opportunity to specify which magazine the feedback is about. That is certainly a minor change, but it helps a great deal with the customer support -- since, before the change, we often had to guess as to which magazine a specific feedback was about.

When you think about it 'web' was a darn good metaphor for the invention of Tim Berners-Lee. The hyperlink structure must have been the main driver for the choice of the web metaphor. but it is also web-like in its growth and stability. Exactly like a web, the way a small change can be made to one tiny node and it very gently shakes itself over the whole connected structure and imperceptibly beds itself in. When TBL was specc-aming his hypertext system I bet he never considered that his invention would lead to the death of the software *release* and the prevalence of incremental changes. Will Microsoft's Vista be the last of the major software releases?

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