Is software bound to bloat over time? 16:40 on Friday
Do you know any software that is over ten years old and has not bloated into a mess of features on top of features?
Many think Microsoft Word 5.1 was the last manageable version of the program, and now people are starting to search for non-bloated alternatives for one of the best apps ever built, PhotoShop. Heck, even Adobe themselves offer a leaner version of the app (PhotoShop Elements) and are working on a narrower application (Lightroom).
I’ve used BBEdit for years and kind of bonded with it. I’ve loved its simplicity and no-nonsense approach to editing raw text files and nothing more. But a few months ago I switched from BBEdit to a younger, slimmer, and more flexible editor, TextMate.
It’s easy to say bloat accumulates by time, when code gets old, platforms change, people change, and code is rewritten by people who didn’t originally write it. But I wonder if bloat is really caused more by deteriorating vision of the product or by deteriorating code base.
I recommend also checking out 37 Signals’ new book Getting Real and the chapters that deal with the importance of having a vision for a [web app] product.