Software engineer : an engineer who makes software

  • Someone creates the most beautiful maintainable unit-tested code with loads of features but runs out of time to finish because there was only a budget for a quick proof-of-concept. (Resourcing versus capability and correctness)
  • A team design a safety-critical system in a hurry and cause an accident due to errors in the code. (Correctness requirements versus resourcing)
  • A product needs to be maintained for 50 years but to keep up-front costs down the creator writes spaghetti code using lots of copy-paste and few tests. (Resourcing not considered deeply enough — maintenance costs will eclipse any small saving made during creation. This phenomenon is sometimes called technical debt.)
  • A beautiful piece of software is created and end users enjoy working using it, but system administrators find the process required to install it very frustrating, so it rarely gets deployed. (Stakeholder engagement)
Le praticien industriel, pl. 8 (Mécanique no. 8), colour lithograph by Stanislas Petit, ca. 1905, Wellcome Library no. 46088i.



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Joel R. Mitchelson

Joel R. Mitchelson


Engineer, 3D sensor maker, ponderer of information/nature/brain/economics/society, piano tinkler, and occasional climate data cruncher. Views my own.