Three truths of software revisions

I am no expert in user experience, probably not even in software design, but over the over the course of more than a decade using and writing software i have come to impart several truths, i will go on dispensing these things i consider as such.


But first off i need wax philosophically on the concept of revision itself, feel free to skip ahead to jump to the meat of it if you are so inclined.

So what are revisions, what do they imply, and why are they important ?

Revisions are not exactly a new concept, as with al things we can take a look at nature for immediate analogues, i trust you will be able to find plenty in a glance, they are new however for some things.

As time goes by some familiar concepts, like the books in your network connected e-reader, gain revisions they become a living entity, others like a De Lorean DMC-12 get frozen in time, forever still (or not).

And what do revisions imply ? well they imply evolution for one and a lifeline for a close second.

Something that has revisions can almost feel as living and breathing and is very different from the coldness and perfection of master’s ancient greek sculpture (very different and very similar if you will see the sculpted figure as alive).

As to why are they are important, just thinking about your opposable thumb the next time you grab something with your hand should suffice.


Now on to the truths i threatened with, i assume there are books that feature them, not that i read any, but i digress, software revisions colloquially called “updates” are a mighty important concept and they need to hold true to some values.
As all truths, these specific ones on software updates might apply to some extent to all software at large, some might sound like common sense, if they do please let me know which ones.

  • Truth one: what once was given should not be easily taken, even if it was wrong, a good update takes this into account above all and in treats the rare cases where something just has to be taken with extreme care.

This is probably the most controversial of the bunch and can be argued pro and against to no end, battle scarred developers know which ones weight more, as far as i am concerned as true as i even known truth to be.

  • Truth two: a good update is discreet, noninvasive, it does not hit you in the head, does not scream change, one might even find himself wondering if the update existed at all, only very few things are needed to denote new, if any.

This is probably less controversial, if you want to hit people in the head you should seek professional treatment, i am just going to state it as a truth because it is.

  • Truth three: a good update has a continuum, most changes in it have a segue to a previous concept, very few, if no changes stand on their own coming out of thin air.

You know this one to be true yourself, i don’t even have to argue it, if you wake up one morning with one extra limb that you have no idea how to operate i just don’t see how you’ll appreciate it.


That’s it for now, i never claimed to have all truths about software updates, any constructive commentary is one of the reasons for writing this, so please do.

The way i see it the future is all software, the survival or demise of humanity might as well hang on it, we cant just bang rocks together hoping for the best.

So please do the world a favor, if you are going to change something so much in a revision that it barely resembles it’s predecessor make it a new thing, not a revision, rethink it from the ground up and let the original turn cold and perfect like a ancient greek sculpture.

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