Tuesday, June 21, 2016

#NoProjects applies to bread machines too

#NoProjects continues to attract an increasing amount of attention. In fact the idea now has its own NoProjects website - many thanks to Evan Leybourn for that.

From time to time I get asked:

“Surely #NoProjects doesn’t apply to embedded software? After all, the software is installed, the device ships, end of story.”

Maybe, but as in other cases I would argue that the software only stops changing if the product is unsuccessful. If the product is successful one can expect the software to continue changing, sure the device that shipped with version 1.0 of the software might never receive a software update but if the device is successful there will be future devices in the same product line and they will most likely contain enhance software.

For example, one of my favourite kitchen devices is a Panasonic bread machine my wife bought me a about 7 years ago for my birthday. A few months ago we noticed the bread wasn’t coming out right, after a bit of investigation I diagnosed the motor was wearing out. A few days layer I was the owner of a brand new Panasonic bread machine and it was producing great bread again.

The new device shares many similarities to the old it replaced but also has some differences. In particular the user interface is very similar - although this one contains more bread programmes and a modified selection procedure.

Although I don’t know for sure I am happy to bet money that the software inside this one - and lets be honest, there really is a lot of software inside a bread machine - is a later version of the software in the earlier machine. Why wouldn’t it be?

Panasonic produces a range of bread machines, they change from time to time. Would it seriously rewrite from scratch the software each time?

Sure the software in my new bread machine will never change. The project to create the software for my current machine has ended but the software hasn’t. I have but one version that will not change but it is just one release of a living system, an evolving system.

And in seven years time when I need to replace this bread machine, what is the betting Panasonic will be selling Internet connected bread machines that they can update over the Internet of Things?

As the internet of things rolls out fewer and fewer devices will not be capable of update.

The internet of things will drive another nail in the projects coffin.