Subject: Re: bin/12838: new expr(1) is totally broken
To: Matthias Buelow <>
From: Greg A. Woods <>
List: netbsd-bugs
Date: 05/04/2001 23:52:25
[ On Saturday, May 5, 2001 at 05:49:10 (+0200), Matthias Buelow wrote: ]
> Subject: Re: bin/12838: new expr(1) is totally broken
> just for the records... you might be referring to Brooks' "build one
> to throw it away" (prototype) thing, issued in his legendary "The
> mythical man month" book.  However, this has been shown to be a rather
> misleading and practically nonworking approach, and Brooks has recognized
> it as such in his 1995 re-edition of "the mythical man month".

I don't know if Brooks was the first to say it (I seriously doubt it
though), but many others have said it in print too.

I've also read some of the discussion around his new claims too...

> This is often impossible, and even more, very uneconomical, though.

Oh, of course, which is why I qualified my statement....

> It also promotes a certain carelessness in building ("well, we can
> do it properly in the next version".)

Indeed this is a very major issue.  The trick here is that you actually
have to plan up-front to throw away the first version.  If you're
careful enough you can make the first version so useless in practice
that it has to be thrown away no matter what management many desire!  ;-)

>  The result of such thinking
> can be observed easily on vintage open-source projects.

I'm not so sure in those cases that those results are due to that same
thinking!  ;-)

I've not only read many case studies about, but also seen often enough
in real life, situations where management decisions lead to putting
prototypes into production even when there was no real economic need to
do so, and sometimes even when the prototype was "engineered to fail".
Politics, especially in technical fields, can often be very difficult to

Lots of open-source projects suffer because they're sometimes not
designed to be products, but rather just to solve one person's immediate

							Greg A. Woods

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