Here are three quotes on software development I ran across yesterday.
Just because something is a standard it doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for every application (e.g. XML).
From Yukihiro Matsumoto, creator of Ruby:
An open source project is like a shark. It must keep moving, or it will die.
From Roger Sessions, CTO of ObjectWatch:
A good IT architecture is made up largely of agreements to disagree. … Bad architectures and good both contain disagreements, but the bad architectures lack agreements on how to do so.
I once worked on a project that had a proprietary file format that became more sophisticated over time until it resembled a primitive relational database. After that I resolved to use standard technologies as much as possible. I think others have had the same experience and overreacted, using standard technologies even when they are overkill. Crockford’s comment is a reminder to moderate one’s zeal for standards. Moderation in all things.
I would add to Matsumoto’s comment that it’s not only open source projects that need to keep moving or die, though they may have an extra need for movement to maintain credibility. (Update: See this post on how software, networks, and storage all have to keep moving to survive.)
The way I understand Sessions’ comment is that good architecture focuses on high level agreement rather than low-level conformity. “Let’s rewrite all our code in Java” is not a good software architecture. Or one that I hear more often “Let’s move everything to Oracle.” Such low-level standardization does not guarantee a coherently organized system. Whether subsystems use the same implementation technologies is not as important as whether there is a good strategy for making the pieces fit together.