Do you know how to use the software you write?

During a discussion about Artificial Intelligence (AI) a colleague said he was listening to someone on the radio speaking about AI research, and their comments could be summed up by the classic Jurassic Park quote.

“Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

We could easily have a similar discussion about the developers of software products aimed at DBAs and developers. I’m guessing the developers of feature X in the database aren’t DBAs or database developers in the sense that we usually use the term. Sounds kind-of obvious, but I think it’s important. When those developers are working on the new whizz-bang feature, are they really thinking about the knock-on effect of that? I don’t mean that in a bad way. I’m just saying the focus of those developers may be very different to that of the DBAs and developers the resulting product is being used by.

I’ve said it a bunch of times, but Oracle Cloud means Oracle has becoming the single biggest consumer of their own products. That continues to have a profound impact on the products. Call it, “eating your own dog food”, or “drinking your own champagne”, the result is the same. I’m hoping the feedback loop is more efficient and “louder” now than it was. 🙂

I look after the infrastructure of a bunch of systems I know nothing about. I build them, deploy software to them, and in some cases I can log into them, but there are very few I actually know how to use. I sometimes get calls about things and I’m super honest about what I can and can’t do. I say things like, “I can turn it off and on, but I don’t have a clue how to use the application!” I think that’s quite common. Once a product grows above a certain size, there’s no way someone will be able to understand all of it. If you are managing multiple products, there is no way you can understand them all.

So when the next version of product X is released and you say to yourself, “Why the heck have they done that?”, the answer may be the team thought it was a good idea, even though you as the user of their product think it’s pointless… 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

Author: Tim...

DBA, Developer, Author, Trainer.

2 thoughts on “Do you know how to use the software you write?”

  1. This applies to more than just Oracle. Often developers are so focused on the project they are working at (or on the tiny niche of the portion of project they are responsible for) that they lose touch with what customers may need.
    That’s why at software conferences I prefer hearing from experienced users rather than seasoned developers.

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