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Software Engineering isn’t dead yet, BUT….


Tom DeMarco wrote an article a couple of years ago proclaiming that Software Engineering was dead that caused a real stir in the software field.  I opposed his view then; but sadly I’m beginning to think he had seen a glimpse of the future.

Today I did my last search for SWEBOK (the Software Engineering Book of Knowledge) in hopes of actually finding something coming out of this incredibly slow and opaque group.  My expectations were met, as they once again neglected to tell anyone where exactly they are in their unpublished process.  If any democratic process was run like this, we’d see Wisconsin style protests.  But alas, this is a dying beast that is finding its way to the bottom of irrelevance.

I think it started with the Agile Manifesto.  Almost none of the signatories came from Academia and it has shown.  They don’t publish in IEEE Software.  They don’t need to.  They get things done.  Which, of course, is what many academics in Software Engineering can’t do (see Exihibit A – SWEBOK).  I don’t want to paint too wide of a stroke.  There are of course exceptions like Mary Shaw and Tao Xie.  But many academics published articles are much like science fiction, somewhat entertaining, but not really useful.

This stems from the fact that most are tenured and have never worked a day in their life as a REAL software developer.  Its like writing about sex while still a virgin.  Exciting for the writer, but woefully invaluable for anyone else.  Let us look at the present month’s edition of IEEE Software, their leading journal. Oh wait, that will be $20 an article (because we all know they are just that valuable).  A requirements article, that looks potentially useful.  Oh it’s about GORE and SORE.  You don’t know about GORE and SORE !?! Oh you better get in the know; because that’s the new rage in software development.  Yeah, Dr. Seuss invented the terms.  Wait, an article on Architecture, now that should be promising.  “Unusable Software is…”  wait for it….. “Useless”.  Woah!!!  What a find!  20 years from now we will definitely be talking about this one.  And wait, you get more,  it’s only Part I!!!!

We don’t even use the term Software Engineering any more in the field where we actually create software.  We call it software development.  We can’t even agree on the same term!  IEEE Software went downhill after Steve McConnell (someone who HAS written real software) left and it may have been an omen that Software Engineering is going down too.

 

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About Leonard Woody
Software Engineer

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