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Why Software Sucks...and What You Can Do About It 1st Edition

3.3 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0321466754
ISBN-10: 0321466756
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

“I’ve just finished reading the best computer book [Why Software Sucks...] since I last re-read one of mine and I wanted to pass along the good word. . . . Put this one on your must-have list if you have software, love software, hate programmers, or even ARE a programmer, because Mr. Platt (who teaches programming) has set out to puncture the bloated egos of all those who think that just because they can write a program, they can make it easy to use. . . . This book is funny, but it is also an important wake-up call for software companies that want to reduce the size of their customer support bills. If you were ever stuck for an answer to the question, ’Why do good programmers make such awful software?’ this book holds the answer.”
John McCormick, Locksmith columnist, TechRepublic.com
“I must say first, I don’t get many computing manuscripts that make me laugh out loud. Between the laughs, Dave Platt delivers some very interesting insight and perspective, all in a lucid and engaging style. I don’t get much of that either!”
Henry Leitner, assistant dean for information technology and senior lecturer on computer science, Harvard University
“A riotous book for all of us downtrodden computer users, written in language that we understand.”
Stacy Baratelli, author’s barber
“David’s unique take on the problems that bedevil software creation made me think about the process in new ways. If you care about the quality of the software you create or use, read this book.”
Dave Chappell, principal, Chappell & Associates
“I began to read it in my office but stopped before I reached the bottom of the first page. I couldn’t keep a grin off my face! I’ll enjoy it after I go back home and find a safe place to read.”
Tsukasa Makino, IT manager
“David explains, in terms that my mother-in-law can understand, why the software we use today can be so frustrating, even dangerous at times, and gives us some real ideas on what we can do about it.”
Jim Brosseau, Clarrus Consulting Group, Inc.
A Book for Anyone Who Uses a Computer Today...and Just Wants to Scream!

Today’s software sucks. There’s no other good way to say it. It’s unsafe, allowing criminal programs to creep through the Internet wires into our very bedrooms. It’s unreliable, crashing when we need it most, wiping out hours or days of work with no way to get it back. And it’s hard to use, requiring large amounts of head-banging to figure out the simplest operations.

It’s no secret that software sucks. You know that from personal experience, whether you use computers for work or personal tasks. In this book, programming insider David Platt explains why that’s the case and, more importantly, why it doesn’t have to be that way. And he explains it in plain, jargon-free English that’s a joy to read, using real-world examples with which you’re already familiar. In the end, he suggests what you, as a typical user, without a technical background, can do about this sad state of our software—how you, as an informed consumer, don’t have to take the abuse that bad software dishes out.

As you might expect from the book’s title, Dave’s expose is laced with humor—sometimes outrageous, but always dead on. You’ll laugh out loud as you recall incidents with your own software that made you cry. You’ll slap your thigh with the same hand that so often pounded your computer desk and wished it was a bad programmer’s face. But Dave hasn’t written this book just for laughs. He’s written it to give long-overdue voice to your own discovery—that software does, indeed, suck, but it shouldn’t.

About the Author

David S. Platt runs Rolling Thunder Computing (www.rollthunder.com), an education and consulting practice. He has more than twenty years of experience as a programmer, teaches software development at Harvard University Extension School and at companies all over the world, and is a popular speaker at conferences. He is the author of nine previous books—including Introducing Microsoft .NET, Third Edition, The Microsoft Platform Ahead, and Understanding COM+ (all Microsoft Press)—as well as many journal articles and newsletters. In 2002, Microsoft designated him a Software Legend. Dave lives in Ipswich, Massachusetts.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (October 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321466756
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321466754
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,046,733 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mark Podrazik on January 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
As an Engineering/Management professional who regularly works with software developers, I picked up this book hoping for an interesting read with maybe a few pearls of wisdom that might benefit someone in my position. I held no false impression of this being a management text; I was merely looking for insights. Also, I confess that I enjoyed the boldness of the title. (You marketing guys: always messing with our heads!)

In this regard, Platt did not disappoint. While essentially reaffirming much of the knowledge and many of the beliefs I held regarding software development and the truly creative people who do it for a living, the author tossed out enough new thoughts, peppered with a sense of humor welcome enough to keep me engaged.

Individuals not familiar with the process of software development will no doubt find the content even more illuminating. The author is spot-on in his assessment of where software developers go wrong, having witnessed it myself over many years in product development.

If this book had been a more difficult read, I would have been disappointed. As it is, "Sucks" was an enjoyable, quick read with just enough substantive content to be worth my effort. That is, it had decent balance--time investment vs. intellectual return.

I would gauge this book as being targeted at (or most appropriate for) the knowledgeable, but not necessarily expert, software user. Readers in this group are likely to have an informative and enjoyable experience.
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Format: Paperback
I never heard of David Platt prior to reading this book. His title as a Harvard professor in software design prepared me for a dry and technical book on software design.

I'm happy to say there is nothing 'dry' or boring about Mr. Platt's writing style. The book is easy to read and you'll find yourself nodding along with the examples he gives. Why do we accept poor software design? I failed to even recognize bad software until Mr. Platt specifically pointed it out. At which point, I smacked myself in the head and said "of course!"

If you are an average computer user and wonder why things are the way they are, this book is for you. If you are a programmer who wants to write successful software that average computer users will praise, this book is for you.

On the other hand, if you are a technical user or programmer who can do no wrong, heaven forbid you pick up a book that has the potential to broaden your horizons.

In my opinion, this is one of the best books on software design that is written with humor and analogies to make it easy for anyone to understand and show them what they can do about it.

Thank you, Mr. Platt. The industry has been needing this book since computers went mainstream back in the early 1990's.

Finally, a voice from the silent majority!
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Format: Paperback
Although targeted towards explaining to ordinary people why computer software is hard to use, Why Software Sucks...and What You Can Do About It by David S. Platt is something that software developers would do well to read and understand how we blow it on a regular basis. Five words... The. User. Is. Not. You.

Contents: Who're You Calling A Dummy?; Tangled In The Web; Keep Me Safe; Who The Heck Are You?; Who're You Looking At?; Ten Thousand Geeks, Crazed On Jolt Cola; Who Are These Crazy B@st@ards Anyway?; Microsoft - Can't Live With 'em And Can't Live Without 'em; Doing Something About It; Epilogue; About The Author

Platt takes a look at software and web sites from the perspective of the user, someone who's just trying to get something done. And his overwhelming conclusion is... software sucks. In large part, this is because the computer geeks who design the software are completely mistaken as to who is the target user. They design something that works for themselves, thinking that everyone thinks and reacts as they do. They think that complexity is cool, and whiz-bang features should be appreciated in and of themselves. The reality is that the basic user does *not* think like a computer geek, and they get tired of sites that make no sense or make them work (or rework) for the reward at the end. Using good/bad site contrasts such as Google (guesses the language to use based on the IP address/location) vs. UPS (ask for your country EVERY SINGLE TIME before you can do anything), it becomes quickly apparent when a site's been designed by computer geeks rather than design/interface specialists who are able to think like a user.
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By Rob Joswel on September 3, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The first chapter is a good short entry on software design. Some good points are made, though most people who are interested in the topic will find the same ideas in Alan Cooper's books or Donald Norman's. Then a series of chapters on security make it clear that this book wasn't written as a whole, but as a series of unconnected essays. Some facts are repeated a few times showing a need for more editing.

A couple of the essays toward the back of the book are better, so long as you don't expect to learn much about software, and software quality. I don't recommend this book.
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