polite computers

Thinking about contacts, and also reading this, it struck me that if there is anything in computing that needs a manifesto it’s Polite Software.

As in: it behaves helpfully towards others, by exporting and importing data in standard formats correctly (and if there is a common incorrect way of doing something, it should provide the option of doing it that way – like KDE does with “Microsoft-style” groupware notifications), it doesn’t get in the way (so if it’s doing something, it doesn’t interrupt you doing something else by grabbing the UI thread, and it segregates any process involving an external process so it doesn’t hang on a network connection), it never loses other people’s work, it doesn’t make you repeat yourself (so if you have to go back one step, all the values you entered are preserved, which most Web applications fail to do), it tells the truth (error messages are descriptive and don’t say you did something that you didn’t, and logs are kept and are easily available).

  1. 1 Konsidered a waste of time « Alternate Seat of TYR

    […] And it gave me 32 tracks, all with a rating of zero. Now that is a valid output from the filter. Or it would be if there were no tracks rated above the upper limit, 3.5. And I gave out quite a few 5s. So I check in the pile. All the ratings are gone. This isn’t quite as bad as the phase KAddressBook and Akonadi went through a couple of years ago when they regularly, randomly, truncated my contacts file from 269KB to 10.8KB – always exactly the same – and inserted helpful invalid characters. (Fortunately they also left a renamed copy of the original file, so you could just restore from backup.) But it’s pretty shit. Any software that randomly destroys user data has failed and failed horribly. It’s the antithesis of polite software. […]

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