Consenting Adults

time to read 2 min | 296 words

David Kean has an interesting post here: "I can't believe Microsoft didn't make [Enter API Name Here] public"

In particular, he mentions this aging argument:

Developing good APIs is extremely difficult, especially the first time around. When we get things wrong (and we do get things wrong), trying to maintain backwards compatibility often stifles innovation as we try to correct these scenarios. Unfortunately, unlike others, we don't have the luxury to make only 95% of our new versions backwards compatible with our previous versions.

I have a lot of problems with this statement. Chief among them is the treating the users as people who should be cuddled. Actually, I don't really have a problem with cuddling, the real problem is that this is literally putting road blocks for progress.

The Microsoft backward compatibility strategy is a major reason why the default approach is to close down everything. Now, it is not as if there isn't a well defined way of saying: Touch that on your responsibility. This is quite pervasive, actually:

This API supports the .NET Framework infrastructure and is not intended to be used directly from your code.

But I think that this isn't actually the problem. The problem is that the rules that Microsoft has chosen to accept are broken. In that type of game, you are always losing. The only thing that you can do is to change the rate in which you are losing at.

Change the rules, treat the users as consenting adults, and you'll be able to do so much more, because the task ahead of you would be so much simpler.