Friday, December 17, 2010

Recently in the message thread for your article, “Lies, damned lies, and benchmarks: is IE9 cheating at SunSpider?”, you made this statement (in response to someone else): “And bugs should be rare, since all they do is get the answer wrong for no purpose. Guess what? They’re not rare.” This struck me as a particularly true statement. Bugs should be rare, but they aren’t. It seems like there might be a full article here about why bugs aren’t more rare. I thought that might be an interesting read. So I guess my question is, have you thought about writing an article on why software bugs aren’t more rare?

This would be an interesting article to write. I’m not entirely sure if it can be written, however. I think if people—developers—had a clear grasp of why they created bugs then they would be in a position to do something about it. And yet, in spite of countless methodologies, millions of books, endless hours of seminars, we’re frankly no better today than we were decades ago.

People may point at NASA, but NASA’s solution, such as it is, is to scale back problems until they’re tiny, spec the hell out of them, and then write code. It’s extremely expensive, extremely slow, totally non-scalable—and there are still bugs at the end of it.