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The Closing of the Frontier

By Ralph Johnson (University of Illinois, USA)


Software design is usually discussed as if the system is being created « de novo», but most programmers are working on systems that have already been released. This is a sign of success, since software is now good enough to keep and is worth improving. But the way we talk about design and the way we teach it is stuck in the twentieth century. The software frontier is closing.

Although there are still new projects, it is more accurate to say « there are no new software projects»  than it is to say « all software projects are new» . What would the world be like if there were no new software projects?

Although user requirements are important, version N+1 depends more on version N than it does on the latest requests from the users. Fortunes can be made both on the frontier and in cities. The frontier and cities are different, however, and some of the rules of success of the frontier must change for the cities..