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11/16/05 09:31 AM
When Bad Bugs Happen to Good Software Report this article as Inappropriate to us !!!Login to Reply

When Bad Bugs Happen to Good Software

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11/16/05 07:00 PM
This is new? new Report this article as Inappropriate to us !!!Login to Reply

I have a Black & Decker Circular Saw circa 1991. It's ok, but it has some quirks that I would call bugs. The base tilt angle won't stay at 90, the blade is hard to change because of the design of the fence, and so on. B&D has come out with upgrades to my saw that they are willing to give me, at an additional charge. And what's worse, the guy at The Home Depot was willing to let me try it for free before I bought, like some drug dealer. Now, I see that Black & Decker has a new saw with other "features", some that I like (see through window to see the blade), and some that I don't (redesigned handle is harder to hold than mine). Why didn't B&D recognize the problems that I found? Why am I almost guaranteed that there will be other bugs and/or quirks with their new saw? Or DeWalt's? or Porter Cable's? Or Milwaukee's? And how is this any different than software?

Tom L
11/16/05 10:53 PM
'When Bad Bugs Happen to Good Software' new Report this article as Inappropriate to us !!!Login to Reply

Hello Bruce, WOW! whatever software your using sounds like a doosey. Our software has bugs of course but doesn't sound anyway as nightmarish as you explain. Bugs are inevitable and the sooner users accept it (like or not) the less pills you 'll need at night. To give an example to defend the CAD companies for a second. Our software decided a few releases back to make their next release BUG-FREE!!. Yup you heard right BUG-FREE! They had devoted 100% of their R/D team to focus entirely on fixing ALL the bugs on the software without add ng any new features thus not to add a new variable into the mix. It took them almost 2 years to accomplish and you know what happened. The release came out and worked beautiful for all of 2 months. Why you asked, becuase todays software doesn;t rely on itself to perform many functions. Most if not all CAD software works on somethng called on operating system while is not property of the CAD company and thus lies the problem. The OS integrates various software suchs as MS office, Internet explorer, etc... all have the potential (and do) "attack" you CAD program. So our cad software compnay learned a hard lesson. 1.) Aftrer almost 2 years work basically all went down the tubes. 2.) By not introducing new features, they a) lost alot of competitive ground and advantages in the marketplace and b) disappointed the MAJORITY of the clients drooling for new features that all the friends are raving about who rather new tools over bugs. The CAD software industry is so competitive this only shows that when a company wants to "do the right thing" is really hurts everyone. Funny how that works huh. Anyway, happy to say our software company has regained its marketshare and is increasing. Please dont take this the wrong way but; - All bug fixes are FREE and usually very timely for the major ones. - Beta Testing is needed to gain real-world conditions and at least they provide some really nice prizes to the top 3 testers. - they do not "bundle" as you state. Everything is avaialbale to everyone. - Offer free R/D discussions openly between end users and the R/Dteam on online forum. So that being said. the only potential for a bug free CAD software is if they do it all, OS, Intenet, CAD, Office,etc... which is impossible.

Richie Williams
11/17/05 01:31 AM
'When Bad Bugs Happen to Good Software' new Report this article as Inappropriate to us !!!Login to Reply

What a great article. I loved it. The article brought to mind exactly what is happening to the software that I have been updating for the last six years. Many of us now use a former version of the software that seems to run better and has better stuff that works. I had a bunch of laughs when I read through your article. I just hope the software vendors read it too. You have a good writing style and its one I would like to imitate. Good luck to you and your next revision of software and keep writing.

Martin H.
11/22/05 08:16 PM
Amusing but if its your experiences you have the wrong supplier new Report this article as Inappropriate to us !!!Login to Reply

Thought you have some valid points but they are not specific just to software but to buying thigs from other people in general. Also think you either must have chosen the wrong supplier or packaged together the worst cases scenarios of all suppliers. Just to higlight this if i llok att the software we supply you can remover the things you mention between the ---- marks in the extracts below. OK, here’s the deal: Let’s say you buy a tool – no, wait – technically, you can only buy a license to use the tool, for thousands of dollars. And, if you want another person at your company to also use this tool, you can most certainly do so. ----At an additional charge.----(comment - but of course two people can not use the same tool at the same time) ----Unfortunately, the tool is somewhat arcane and difficult to learn and use. ---- Here's the good news: Your tool supplier will provide you with plenty of training. (comment - nothing in life is for free). And rest assured that if you ever have questions about using the tool, you are more than welcome to call your supplier for answers. At an additional charge (comment - Lets call the charge maintaince). Now, because there are some things wrong with this tool, your supplier will, ----at irregular intervals----, provide you with "updated" (i.e., fixed) versions of the tool. At an additional charge (comment -same charge as above ie. maintaince). The updated version will not only fix some of the things that were wrong, ----it will also contain a bunch of new things that weren’t in the tool before----. Of course, some of the things that didn’t work in the last version will continue to not work in the new version. (The supplier will replace old versions of your tool with a new version on a regular basis. This will contain a bunch of new things that weren’t in the tool before. Same charge as above ie. maintaince) Another strategy is denial. A customer might say, “I would like to be able to define a series of constraints, or values, to drive my design.” If the vendor's software doesn’t work very well with such an approach, the vendor will argue that using constraints is a bad idea. “Our software, by contrast, doesn’t tie you down that way, giving you the freedom to design any way you want.” (Except for that one way that you like.) (comment - If you want a milling bit why did you buy a drill bit??) Unbundling means that the new capability is now a separate module available for purchase. (comment - We have as far as I know never removed functionality that you have used and paid for in the past) Martin H

John T
11/22/05 09:32 PM
Satire lives new Report this article as Inappropriate to us !!!Login to Reply

Thank you Bruce for the laugh.

11/22/05 10:26 PM
Like others said, swich your software new Report this article as Inappropriate to us !!!Login to Reply

I liked the article, Bruce, and I have a feeling I know exactly which software you're talking about. But here's the catch - there are better things out there. I used to use a CAD program - let's call it Brand I - that claimed to be super powerful, but I spent better than 20% of my time re-doing work and finding work-arounds. Everything from printing, to file corruption, to lost associativity, to crashes, to you name it. I felt exactly the way you wrote in your article. When I switched companies and started using Brand S, 90% of the problems went away. Was it perfect? Could it do everything? Of course not, but my productivity went through the roof, and I'm now a happier guy. Reading your article made me think, "I remember those days." There is better out there.

Not Just a Software Issue
11/22/05 10:31 PM
Expanding on your thoughts new Report this article as Inappropriate to us !!!Login to Reply

The timing is ironic that I am reading this with a print of one of our companies products on my desk. It seeem that we are on our 4th revision of a released product, Rev D in motion. In our case, it was due to design enhancements. Though you bring up very valid points, they are issues that anything that is designed and engineered go thru. Take the whole Ford Explorer / Firestone ordeal. Talk about "When bad bugs happen to good"...products / people. I'm just glad that our CAD-package has not had any proplems to this level.

11/22/05 11:31 PM
Missed the mark... new Report this article as Inappropriate to us !!!Login to Reply

Bruce, Although I did appreciate the tongue and cheek nature of the article - it was midly amusing. I really think it missed the mark. I think software vendors are often unfairly picked-on for bugs. I run a small software company and we develop manufacturing software. Yes, we have bugs. Yes we ask customers to pay annual maintenance and support. We fix bugs and we work damn hard to make sure our customers are productive. And they are. Our customers tell us they could not do what they do without our software. And the the same is true of CAD software/PLM - for many it is a critical and highly productive part of the engineering and manufacturing process despite the bugs. Oh and by the way, it is fine to blame the CAD vendor for the bugs - I don't know how many times we have spent hours and hours helping customers with problems to then show up on site and find out they install every piece of crap shareware and virus infected freeware on their computer and they wonder why they have problems. Or that every user has admin priveliges and has "treaked" every driver and setting on the system until it no longer makes sense. Users have a responsibility here too. As for hardware not having bugs, well, I'm on my third DVD player in as many years, my new car is back at the dealer 4 times a year and I can't say how many power tools and kitchen devices have been put out to the curb after a year or so. Your CAD system may have some bugs, but if you have a good vendor/reseller then you will get years, maybe 10+ of good use out of it - of course you need to pay your upgrade/maintenance fee. I can tell you, the cost of maintaining a car for 10 years costs a fair penny. Lastly, we often have to field complaints about why the software costs thousands, why you have to pay maintenance fees - after all, it costs nothing to make a new CD right? It is very expensive to develop software - and your analogy to drugs is meaningful here. The drug industry also charges huge fees for drugs that cost pennies to "duplicate". However, like the software industry - have massive upfront R&D and engineering costs. Unfortunately, unlike the drug industry - the software industry faces widespread theft of its product thru unlicensed duplication. In the end, all users pay for this theft. However, this is where the analogy fails - firstly, by and large the CAD industry improves manufacturing process, improves competitiveness by lowering costs - it adds real value. If you have known anyone who has suffered from drug addiction I am sure you would realize this is not the case. I'm not saying the software industry is perfect, I'm sure there are software companies out there that are milking their customers and not providing good support. But I have to say, the bulk of the software companies we deal with are far, far, better than the automotive and hard goods companies that I have personal experience with.

11/24/05 09:59 AM
trapped by legacy new Report this article as Inappropriate to us !!!Login to Reply

Although many companies accept increasingly buggy programs that spin off add-ons at additional cost, they feel trapped in a pile of legacy files. Often, CAD software that would save the company hundreds of hours every month is not even considered because of the previous investment in what once was "state of the art". Sometimes, though, a company witll abandon a great program to switch to a more popular but far more bug-ridden (primarily becauser of its needless complexity) one. In this scenario, a fierce and relentless marketing stragedy (and a reluctance to supply demos) keeps the unwary customers rolling in, despite the greater cost and longer learning curves. Some of learn the hard way - bigger is not always better - always try before you buy!

11/30/05 06:04 PM
Bang on the mark new Report this article as Inappropriate to us !!!Login to Reply

Excellent article - exactly what we experience with our CAD software. Our company has thousands of seats of a well-known CAD package, spend millions on CAD development internally, and have a preferential relationship with the vendor; yet we still go through the same "daylight robbery" scenario that Bruce describes. Now we are trying to go paperless, we discover that our suppliers will have to pay $10000 for a bundle to let them _view_ annotations. I know some on this thread have stated "change vendor" - that isn't an option when you have terrabytes of data and the decision to use the new version was made as a "strategic decision" at a corporate level.... Thanks Bruce!

12/01/05 01:23 AM
Like others said, swich your software new Report this article as Inappropriate to us !!!Login to Reply

Comment on 'SC' review: By Brand I and S, did you mean Inventor and SolidWorks respectively. Good to know as a CAD user. It will be useful if you can help us understand your experience.

12/06/05 10:17 PM
Virtual Software new Report this article as Inappropriate to us !!!Login to Reply

Very amusing, Bruce - and it's sure nice to see that you are still writing! Our user's conferences are not the same without "Virtual Iccon". :^) Looks like you've covered the best of the worst, but I have to say that some really good things have happended to the old software we were familiar with. Also have to take issue with your description of user's conferences - sure, there's waayyy too many managers and computer geeks, but it's getting more diverse, and where else can you grab a developer by the throat - errrr - talk face to face with - about your favorite issue?! Look forward to your next article.

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