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.

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