This started as an offshoot of a previous thread on Why OSGI Will Never Be Popular but then it got me thinking...

OSGI is a Design Issue! Hmm

Then, I realized OSGI is a design fix, not just an implementation issue. That's why developers can't get excited about it. Developers like me are all about implementation and showing off what they can do. Our minds work like engineers, not designers. It's also why the business side never sees a reason to sponsor the extra up front costs of OSGI - they have no reason to "get" it.

But that led me to start asking myself...."OK, if it really is a design issue...then what project have I ever seen in my years of working in corporations where design even came up, as an issue?"

Design is a No Man's Land, in Software

"That's a whole different thread", I hear myself saying. Design, not OSGI (one aspect of design).

To be fair, there was one shop I worked at where Derek Lane ran things, and that shop was all about good design. But corporation after corporation the past 15 years (I do contract work), that was the only one that even had any language to talk about good design, much less the substance to carry it to any kind of concrete reality. 

I'm exaggerating ever so slightly, and failing to mention some really good eggs that I got to work with over the years. But they were so rare. Really, to open a discussion about design tends to fight every corporate culture that these bright exceptions happened within. 

Good design isn't even much of descriptive word, because it's too general to mean anything. Design can cover dozens of issues, from looks to initial costs to ongoing maintainability etc for days. If you subscribe to Fast Company or Wired, you've got some idea of the consumer side of design at least. But there are so many issues beyond the slick and the beautiful.

Derek Lane used to go on and on about usability and design. How intuitive is the software? Can you just walk up to it and use it? How about Aunt Betsy? Could she use it without instructions? Would she even try (after looking at the interface)? Derek didn't want software engineers to even have a voice in this process. He wanted to hire real, genuine usability experts. Or Aunt Betsy. Anyone but someone like me. Smart guy, this Derek.


The only conclusion I've got to offer is that very few people that I've met even "get" design at the software level. Steve Jobs. Derek Lane. Maybe a few others :)  There's your list.

But I never met Steve Jobs. So maybe I just see the effect of his total obsession on design in all it's aspects.