Daily Archives: September 26, 2006

On Programming: The Software Development Model BLOAT: Bug Limitation through Optimised Audience Targeting

Ken Coar just announced an interesting model of software development new to the TWIT team. You can find it at
An abbreviated roll-call of development models: Some tell it like it is.

To save the reader even the few seconds it might take to link to Ken’s announce, here is the text for your edification:

Dave Shields wrote up an interesting post about a couple of the more prevalent development models:

  • Release Early, Release Often (RERO — sounds like something Astro might say), and
  • Design Until it Drops (DUD).

I think he missed one, though, which lines up very nicely with John Brunner’s first type of fool1:

Bug Limitation through Optimised Audience Targeting (BLOAT).

The BLOAT model relies more on social engineering than actual code; while existing bugs may or may not be corrected, attention is drawn away from them with the equivalent of, ‘Look! Something shiny!’ End-user reviews used for marketing purposes are collected from those who like the shininess rather than those who have been encountering the gritty, grotty bugs. Practitioners of this model hate to throw anything away, regardless of irrelevance. If it has been used before (under any circumstances), it might be used again — so include it as insurance against that possibility and/or just for completeness. New feature elements, or replacements to existing functionality, are added without the predecessors being removed. Sometimes this is done under the banner of “preserving backward compatibility,” sometimes out of ignorance, and sometimes from laziness. Occasionally the practice is institutionalised into a policy. Software developed under this model tends to exhibit a monotonic increase in size over time, leading directly to the observed behaviour of each new version requiring more disk, CPU, and memory resources just to lever itself into a running condition.

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