DevExpress Newsletter 17: Message from the CTO

17 December 2009

Dual-posting Julian's Message from the CTO from DX Press, the DevExpress Newsletter, issue 17.


This particular rental car I’m driving this trip is … annoying. It’s nippy enough and can hold me and my luggage with room to spare, but every time I indicate to overtake or to change direction, I turn on the windshield wipers. You see, my own car has the indicators on the left stalk and this car has them on the right. Heaven knows what the other drivers must think as my wipers frantically swish across the windshield as I turn into a side street.

It’s all a matter of standards. Manufacturers have agreed on the placement of the pedals in a car, but the rest is a mishmash. We have standards too in software: not only in the user interface, but also in “hidden” areas like XML, communication protocols, file formats, and the like. When we write software, it’s as if half of our design decisions have been made for us already. And note I am not knocking this situation, far from it. I still remember that Esc brought up the menu in Word for DOS.

But sometimes, we implement something that is brand new. It behooves us, in that case, to try and make decisions that could frame some new standards so that other people can follow them (and thereby ensuring their “standardness”). At DevExpress, we encounter this type of scenario relatively often: every new control design that hasn’t been implemented elsewhere will need us to decide on mouse usage, keyboard shortcuts, text placement, and so forth, although we can leverage other standards for things like icons and similar.

So, embrace standards, for without them, your work would be that much harder to design and complete.

5 comment(s)
Zack Jones

What kind of car is it? I want to be sure and avoid that model next time I have to get a rental car.

21 December, 2009
Jim Donnelly

I too would like to know what the car is.  That sounds dangerous for many people (including other drivers on the road).  There's famous incidents where standards confusion has led to failure, including a mission to Mars that failed because two teams used different sets of units for navigation.

One reason for my being a customer of DevExpress is that DevExpress's API naming patterns are more familiar than an unnamed-other-vendor's API pattern.  Those efforts at "standardizing" new API's are most appreciated.

21 December, 2009
Adrian Wood

Most European manufactured cars, if not all will have the indicators on the left. ie Volkswagen. Other manufacturers will have them on the right. ie Ford, Toyota.

I am from Australia and most cars have the indicators on the right stalk.

22 December, 2009
Donn Edwards

I must say DevExpress does a great job of making the controls feel natural and obvious, not only to the end user but to the programmer as well. It's clear that a lot of thought goes into your products. It's that kind of attention to detail that makes for good quality software, and you guys do an amazing job.

24 December, 2009
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)

Zack: It was a Kia C'eed. At least that's what it's called in the UK. Apart from the stalks on the wrong sides, it was a nice little hatchback, and I did put well over 2000 miles on it in the 3 weeks I had it. Diesel as well, a little clanky at startup but it soon settled down.

Cheers, Julian

6 January, 2010

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