A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.

Blind Competition Kills Good Software

Wed Jul 4 16:46:45 2012

A rant about decaying software progress.

After facing yet another aggravating "new feature" of Firefox browser today, I was about to rant how much worse it became with each update. Then it hit me: it's not just Firefox! Gnome, Ubuntu, KDevelop! All the projects I once loved and cherished degraded into stupidity. It seems blind popularity competition, after a point, drives any project into oblivion.

Firefox

Firefox: it was love at first sight. Reasonably fast, and availability of plugins was godsent for a budding webdeveloper I was at the time. As development of the browser progressed, my infatuation ebbed. It wasn't long before I found myself installing a cornucopia of addons just to disable new "features", which I, and many others (judging by the amount of forum posts), felt were nothing less than stupid. I believe, Firefox became popular enough the developers felt they had to introduce new features as fast as possible to keep up with competition. As more and more people became hateful of useless features and updates, they turned away from the browser.

Gnome

I've used Gnome long enough to forget how long I've used it. It was all I wanted for many years, until availability of Linux window managers (desktop environments?) exploded and Gnome felt the heat of competition. Every update, from what I could see, did not introduce much but changed positions of menus or much-needed controls being hidden, with an apparent excuse being the availability of features overwhelmed average Joe The User. Perhaps, if actual, well-designed features would be added instead, I would not move away from this mutilated project.

Ubuntu

Lastly, Ubuntu itself gained rapid popularity, and as rapidly declined in quality. Ubuntu Edgy Eft (6.10) was a solid operating system where I found everything worked out of the box, which to me contrasted strongly with several other distros I tried to run on my latest-and-greatest hardware. I winced after every upgrade: features I used often were now moved, well-hidden, or outright removed. New features were added that tried to entice Windows users to migrate; I felt those features should have been left to rot in Windows's domain. As Ubuntu gained in marked share, it became too arrogant, changing so much as to be virtually unrecognizable from the Ubuntu its loyal users came to love, and they started to trickle away.

Dear Developers

Dear Developers, if you find your project is becoming very popular, please follow the overused, yet oft-ignored, adage: If it ain't broke, don't fix it! There's no reason to hide menus or move buttons around—your users love them where they are. There's no reason to add some useless "feature" just because your competitor added it—think through and design quality features of your own. Rushing and ripping everyone off won't make your project stay afloat the popularity charts, it will only ruin you. If you still feel your project cannot be left alone without any updates, then at least differentiate, don't duplicate. Please!

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