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Woes of Software Distribution, Re: Something else

Craig Markwardt (craigmnet@cow.physics.wisc.edu) writes:

> After looking at my download logs I realized that people just weren't
> getting the additional required programs for things like PLOTIMAGE.
> Since then I've made a concerted effort to keep the programs
> self-contained, which usually means including a few small functions or
> subroutines.

I mean this in the very nicest possible way, but
people are hopeless. Present company excluded, of
course. :-)

I have the same problem with my library. If you make
programs that are *designed* to work together, then
you have to get all of them. If you try to put a small
utility routine (CMCongrid is a good example) in all
the dependent routines, then it is virtually impossible
to make a change to the utility routine, because you 
can't find all the copies.

I try to strike a balance. I put some utility routines
in every program. For example, Normalize is in *every*
object graphics program I write because I can't imagine 
writing a program without it and I'm pretty sure it's 
not going to change, primarily because I can never 
figure out exactly how it works. :-)

I've been fooling around with object inheritance 
this week and I can tell you the problem only
gets worse. *Way* worse! I've got that new XWindow
thing in parts scattered all over the office. It feels
like the time I convinced myself I could rebuild
the engine on my ol' VW Beetle. Let's just say I used
the ol' shanks mare for getting around a heck of a lot 
longer than I thought I was going to. And the 
mechanic wasn't too pleased when I dropped off the
box of loose parts, either. :-(

I have more problems with an RSI-supplied program like
Congrid. I mean I *believe* that everybody should be
using your version (or one of the fixed versions I
have around here, at least), but I feel like I can't
force it on anyone. (Actually, I do force it on you
in one of my more popular programs, but I do so
unashamedly because I simply fixed a bug that caused
my program to report a spurious error condition.)

In any case, the only real way to get people
to download and use your good programs is to
charge for them. This also consoles you when 
you are sitting in front of the computer
late at night fixing bugs sent in by someone
who has erroneously assumed that because you have
a web page you don't have a life. 



P.S. Unfortunately, he assumed right. :-(

David Fanning, Ph.D.
Fanning Software Consulting
Phone: 970-221-0438 E-Mail: davidf@dfanning.com
Coyote's Guide to IDL Programming: http://www.dfanning.com/
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