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Joel on Software


by Joel Spolsky
Tuesday, May 07, 2002

Five Worlds: not all software development is the same.

PS. There is a large grey area between internal, consultingware, and shrinkwrap - the three worlds are often a continuum. Often products start out as internal products, then the business guys have the bright idea of selling it to other companies, but it is so brittle and makes so many assumptions about its environment that it takes weeks to install it at other customers' sites, which is how consultingware is born. (cf. Vignette StoryServer which started as c|net's inhouse content management system and now costs millions to get running.) Theoretically the software should then migrate towards shrinkwrap as the customer base grows, with increasing emphasis on ease of installation, but these companies get so addicted to their consulting revenue they don't see any benefit in making it easier to use off-the-shelf. And many internal developers have no prior experience with making software run in the wild, so it doesn't.

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