It is with clarity that I can recall the day that I decided I would no longer be developing software using Microsoft products. I was listening to a podcast about “software factories”. For those who missed this groundbreaking innovation in software engineering practice, here’s the tl;dr:
“IBM buys Rational Software and effectively owns UML. Because Microsoft doesn’t control UML it wants to scupper it by spreading Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt using every means possible.”
The trouble with UML
Back to the podcast: a Microsoft evangelist (I’m pretty sure that it was Jack Greenfield author of Software Factories, apologies to Mr Greenfield if it wasn’t him) is describing the software factory concept in all its woolly detail. He’s not being given a particularly hard time by the podcast’s host as they operate a Microsoft-friendly environment (it was probably the .NET Rocks! podcast). Nothing particularly tangible has been postulated and mainly the evangelist has been bad mouthing UML. Perhaps realising that his standpoint is built on sand, said evangelist gives up his finely-honed arguments and goes all-in with something along the lines of, “the trouble with UML… is that it’s shit”. Ah, I understand now! The power of rhetoric backed up by factual analysis and slammed home with an expletive. Thank you Mr Microsoft and goodbye.
This was the only time I’ve actually clicked a “report this podcast” link because 1) the podcast was unrated and 2) I believe that delicate young ears should be protected from such drivel masquerading as software engineering.
If this was really the best that the former IT powerhouse could come up with then it was clearly an innovation sinking ship.
Fluffy toilet paper
I had prior knowledge that the concept of software factories might be a soggy-bottomed boat for I had previously purchased the book, Software Factories: Assembling Applications with Patterns, Models, Frameworks, and Tools. I bought it secondhand of course. And sold it a couple of weeks later as it was just a load of vaguely-defined vapourware ideas with no practical application whatsoever. The reviews on Amazon are hilarious – ignore the early five star reviews as they’ve probably been written by the authors’ mums. My favourites are “It’s as if they took all the fancy consulting words they could find, put them in a box, shook them around, and then spilled them out into a book.” and “Software is supposed to be fun – these ruinous runes must be recycled into fluffy TP [toilet paper] at the earliest opportunity.” but perhaps the most damning, and most gracious, must be, “Not bad, not good”.
Not as bad as Internet Explorer
Anyways, after wasting many people’s time with software factories, I believe that Microsoft publicly returned to using UML. In reality I seriously doubt that they ever stopped using UML internally, despite the spin they tried to put on the software factories “concept”. To Microsoft’s credit, the concept of software factories probably didn’t waste as much time developer time as Internet Explorer, so there’s a teeny-weeny silver lining.