Critical Section

PDC: Oh, not Oooh

Sunday,  09/21/03  08:17 PM

I'm attending the Microsoft Professional Developer's Conference in October.  The big subject is Longhorn, the next version of Windows after XP, and the underlying technologies.

All the pre-PDC talk about how great everything is and how complicated and how cool and how mystical is scaring me.  (I'm talking about the PDC bloggers and the .NET guys…).  I know a lot of these guys are young and excited, so perhaps it is forgivable, but I hope the older cooler heads will remind them that the purpose of the PDC is to communicate new tools to the developer community so they can use them.  MS is best served by having developers say “oh, that’s easy, I could do that”, rather than saying “oooh, how cool, I wonder if I could ever do that”.  You want people to say “oh”, not “oooh”.

If you look at any technology which targets developers, the adoption rate and ultimate adoption percentage are a function of how easy it was.  HTML was easy, the adoption rate and percentage were very high.  Java was pretty easy, and the early adoption was good, but J2EE is not easy and the later adoption has not been that good.  (Many more people program in Java than build applications using J2EE architecture.)  COM was not easy.  COM+ was not easy.  DCOM was not easy.  So far I have not found .NET to be easy, in fact even just understanding what it is was hard, let alone how you use it.  MS does not have a history of making things easy, and this has hurt them.  The things MS did which were easy were the most successful – look at VB, for example.

In the blogging world, Movable Type is easy.  RSS is easy.  XML-RPC is easy.  Meanwhile RDF and SOAP are not easy, and nobody uses RDF and SOAP.  This Atom thing is going to die a quick death from lack of adoption, because the guys behind it are nerds who don't understand easy.  Dave Winer understands easy, it is his biggest virtue.

My sense is that the attitude of a lot of the MS presenters and attendees at the PDC is not “let’s make this easy”.  Instead it is “let’s show how cool this is” (and by extension how cool we are).  And that isn't going to make for fast adoption.

Why do I care?  I want it to be easy.  I've been programming for thirty years, I can do anything.  But I don't use tools which aren't easy, because I firmly believe W=UH (wrongness = ugliness times hardness), and if something is hard, it is wrong.  Right now Longhorn and all its associated technologies feel hard.  I hope the PDC changes my mind, but I'm not optimistic...

[ Later: considering reactions, More Oh not Oooh... ]

this date in:
About Me

Greatest Hits
Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Unnatural Selection
On Blame
Try, or Try Not
Books and Wine
Emergent Properties
God and Beauty
Moving Mount Fuji
The Nest
Rock 'n Roll
IQ and Populations
Are You a Bright?
Adding Value
The Joy of Craftsmanship
The Emperor's New Code
Toy Story
The Return of the King
Religion vs IQ
In the Wet
solving bongard problems
visiting Titan
unintelligent design
the nuclear option
estimating in meatspace
second gear
On the Persistence of Bad Design...
Texas chili cookoff
almost famous design and stochastic debugging
may I take your order?
universal healthcare
triple double
New Yorker covers
Death Rider! (da da dum)
how did I get here (Mt.Whitney)?
the Law of Significance
Holiday Inn
Daniel Jacoby's photographs
the first bird
Gödel Escher Bach: Birthday Cantatatata
Father's Day (in pictures)
your cat for my car
Jobsnotes of note
world population map
no joy in Baker
vote smart
exact nonsense
introducing eyesFinder
to space
where are the desktop apps?
still the first bird
electoral fail
progress ratches
2020 explained