Writing and Maintaining Software are not Engineering Activities

Raghavendra Rao Loka, an experienced software developper working for Synopsys, wrote a column for IEEE Computer (February 2007, pages 110-112), Software Development: What Is the Problem? He has written what I claimed earlier is known to anyone who has done real software development for a living, that is…

Many developers view software development (…) as a science or engineering activity(…) Writing software is neither: I view it as a craft or art, similar to the work required of teachers and writers. (…) So it’s not clear why we call software development software engineering. (…)

Compare this with what I wrote earlier…

(…) saying that software projects fail for lack of engineering is like saying that the latest Stephen King’s novel is boring because he forgot to draw a UML diagram of the book.

One nagging bit we inherit from the myth of software development as software engineering are schedules. Raghavendra Rao Loka could not be clearer on this topic: “I expect experts to be forthcoming about schedules and their irrelevance.”

Further reading:

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Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

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