Software Pioneers

sd&m Conference, Bonn 28./29.6.2001

some notes

Tom DeMarco: Requirements Engineering Then and Now

Tom DeMarco at

Requirements Engineering Then and Now 1.3 MB

Talent matters a lot more than method, methodology or process, and . . .
Talent is disappearing out the door faster than you can count the open requisitions.

The best software ever

in terms of quality: Adobe Photoshop.

This illustrates a new understanding of quality. Robustness is a trivial aspect of quality. But Photoshop has transformed the world in the way people use it. In fact Tom’s official wedding picture is done by Photoshop.


First there was VisiCalc. Then there was PhotoShop. Now there's GoLive. Like the other blockbuster products before it, GoLive delivers to content experts capabilities previously reserved solely for engineers. It is a joy to learn and a joy to use.

AskTog, Dec. 98
  1. It is unique; when it first appeared, it was utterly unique.
  2. It redefines the whole notion of photo processing.
  3. It even redefines the way you think about photos. (Don’t throw away that snap that is great of Helen but awful of Murray. Just merge it with another that has a better Murray.)
  4. It allows you to do things that were barely imaginabe before.
  5. It is deeply thought out; in particuliar, its use of channels is almost infinitely extensible and usable in ever increasing numbers of ways.
  6. It is fully implemented; for example, its “undo” feature can undo even the most complex action.
  7. Its human interface sticks in the mind–you almost never need to use the manual.
  8. It is revolutionary in the way it affords an interface for third-party add-on providers.
  9. It is solid as a rock.

I’ve given you the first nine reasons for my choice, more or less in order of importance. Note that of the nine, only the very last one has anything to do with absence of defect. That’s my point. Product quality has almost nothing to do with defects or their lack. Oh sure, a basically good product may be marred by defects (think of your Internet browser, whichever one you use). But real quality is far more a matter of what it does for you and how it changes you than whether it is perfectly free of flaws. So that browser, even though it crashes maddeningly often, should be considered a quality product. That’s why you use it so much. Its quality is most of all a function of its usefulness.

«[cited from Tom DeMarco’s book Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency. Broadway Books, New York, 2001; p. 115]