Jeff Atkins recently asked himself why so many developers still use Microsoft SourceSafe. First of all, I use CVS – so I can’t say anything about SourceSafe, but lets assume that it is a product that barely gets its job done(but gets its job done).

I think that this doesnt have to do with other systems or with lazyness. The source of the problem is fear about the switching effort – but to understand that, lets look at a friend of mine who still uses a Palm m505. He recently added MP3 support to it by purchasing a small flash MP3 player, a dictatophone and so on – a used Tungsten T would have costed less than all the acceccoires together – but he didnt switch. The reason was fear of switching efforts – how do I get my old data over, how can I ensure all my apps still run, and so on.

Now, with SourceSafe beeing used in a team environment, switching is even more difficult. You need to get a new machine(ok, thats no problem), purchase licences for the new system(not cheap), retrain your employees(hell expensive, productivity losses) and need to calculate in some deadtime…all to get a system thats a “bit! better than the original.

Nobody with business in mind would ever do this. As long as the system works, why change it – it works and works and costs nothing except server power. And this is the problem:As long as crap works well enough, few will switch away from it. This is valid in almost all areas of technology – from electronics(LM741, anyone) to handhelds and mobile phones(BlackBerry, anyone)…and fighting this is one of the biggest challenges….

What do you think?

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8 Responses to “Why crap can rule the world”

  1. Absolutely correct :)
    Just look at Windows.

  2. Hi,
    =)…written from a WInXP box that works well…..

    Best regards
    Tam Hanna

  3. Think about it: CVS is bad sofwtare, it does a bad job with merges, deleting directories and other basic stuff… but a zillion people use it because it is free and works for them…

    The same applies to VSS, it comes cheap and works well inside an intranet (very sad across the internet) and just works fine out of the box…

    What the OSS zeolots forget: what really matters is total value, not just price or the software license…

  4. Hi,
    full ack!

    Best regards
    Tam Hanna

  5. You’re sorta right here, look at word, for example.

    The tragic thing about SCM tools is that if you’ve made a bad choice you don’t necessarily found out the consequences of the mistake until it’s too late (i.e. you can’t reproduce a product that was shipped six months ago, for example)

    I can say that when this sort of thing happens (and a company finds they have to redevelop a whole product line, for example, companies find taking a bit of a hit with licenses, retraining and so forth is an extremely cheap option.

  6. Hi,
    IMHO, an SCM may NEVER be the only form of backup. I always have dumps of each version’s source on floppy…so if CVS goes down I don’t care!

    Best regards
    Tam Hanna

  7. Well,

    i guess, its really hard for the new commer to decide which product to use, if you guys keep firing each other.

    but i guess, i shoud avoid VSS. i am inclined towards subversion, i guess…
    Lets see

  8. Hi,
    I am a CVS user…so :) .

    Best regards
    Tam Hanna

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