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In a recent visit to my dentist, I had the experience of having the Xray tech “fit” an ungodly uncomfortable piece of plastic into my mouth for the xray. When I said something about how uncorfortable it was, her comment to me was “one-size-fits-all, which really means of course, that one-size-fits-none!” I’m not sure I agree with that statement, but the one-size that was used on me certainly didn’t fit.
Her comment started me thinking about how the statement applies to software applications.
I’ve always preferred applications that are simple to understand and use. I prefer uncluttered entry screens, and I prefer to have at least 80% of a programs functionality being used, as opposed to what I so often see — that of 80% of an applications functionality going unused.
This, in my opinion, is an example of the software “bloat” so common today with programs designed for large user numbers. “Feature Creep” is rampant, spurred on by the marketing need to always having “fresh” product to sell. Many of the new features added to programs seem like a good idea at the time, but really add nothing for the functionality — at least for most users.
A custom application can be written to be lean & mean. It can be made to “fit” its intended audience and their needs — and in my experience overall leads to greater productivity for those using the software. Creation of quality custom applications requires a very different skill set than most programmer/analysts have. I believe that it requires an interpersonal skill that transcends the technical and embraces the creation of a tool to get the job done.