Excuse me while I have a little rant.
Every day I spend many hours sitting at a computer, working with a number of different bits of software. Most of them I’ve used for a couple of decades, so I’m pretty familiar with them. So I do wonder when software developers decide to change something that previously took a couple of seconds to do into a waste of half an hour or more (or simply something that can no longer be done at all). Call me old fashioned, but changing something that is perfectly slick and functional into a pile of festering donkey vomit doesn’t seem like progress to me.
Today I have lost at least an hour faffing about trying to do something that I used to be able to in a few seconds. Then, immediately after I finally worked out the answer, I found a second change in a second piece of software that was less functional than it used to be. I decided to simply abandon that particular task for today, having lost enough time already.
It’s extremely annoying to say the least as this sort of thing has a real impact on my time and therefore my ability to get stuff done. Of course, it does’t happen every day – it usually waits for deadlines to loom…
I expect the world economy loses billions every year to this sort of frustrating nonsense. Time, after all, is money.
Perhaps some software guru can enlighten me. I’m not worried about specifics, more whether there is some secret maxim in software development that encourages developers to deliberately make life difficult for existing users. I am a pretty experienced user of this stuff and it has happened time and again over the years. It may not actually be deliberate, but it sure looks like it.
I have tried to see this as comparable to a new edition of a familiar game. Some people always get upset when anything is changed. Maybe it’s communications that’s at fault. Perhaps there are brilliant reasons for every change, they just fail to communicate them effectively. That happens in games too. However, there is a fundamental difference here. If I change the way magic works in a tabletop game, then you can still play the game. The rules are still comprehensible. You may not like the change, but it does’t stop you playing the game. With software the changes can, and today have, meant that I simply cannot do my job when I have previously been able to. Not because the features was removed entirely, but because it was relocated¹. Actually, the second issue I had today could be gone for good – I’ve no idea.
It’s especially galling when these changes are labelled as “an improved experience”. Clearly some new use of the word improved that I’m not familiar with.
1: When I say “relocated”, what I mean is entered into the witness protection program, given a new name, extensive cosmetic surgery, and whisked away to deepest Alaska.