Dreaming in Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software

Category: Programming
Author: Scott Rosenberg
This Month Hacker News 1


by walterbell   2020-07-01
It's not for lack of demand. Mitch Kapor (Agenda) and Mozilla talent tried an OSS reboot, Chandler. It was so well funded and failed so spectacularly, that there's a book about it.



> cards can not only have multiple parents but can have different parents for different users. This aspect might be novel

Very nice.

by paganel   2019-05-10
Not a direct answer to your request, but you may also be interested in this book called “Dreaming in Code” [1] which documents the reasons and the whys of why the Chandler project failed, a book written by some of the people directly involved (if I remember right) and a book that I’ve also heard that is quite excellent (I’ve personally didn’t read it yet even though it has been on my to-read list for quite some tome, I did read though in real time the blog posts of some of the developers working on the project).

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Dreaming-Code-Programmers-Transcenden...

by shaklee3   2018-11-21
If it makes you feel any better, there is a large section of this book dedicated to a team struggling to implement recurring events properly:


Great read, and shows how difficult it was and is to compete with office.

by maltalex   2018-11-10
It's from Dreaming in Code [0] by Scott Rosenberg.

[0]: https://www.amazon.com/Dreaming-Code-Programmers-Transcenden...

by kyo3   2018-01-16
There's a really good book, and this is part of the premise. Python is a great language, but I can't see it being viable for large projects. I do want to note that it doesn't say Python was part of problem, but in retrospect it seemed like the project was ahead of its time and the technology wasn't there yet.


by jasode   2017-11-24
>stories about the history of specific software. [...] Does anyone know of other books (physical prints would be preferable to me) in this genre?

The AutoCAD story[1] is interesting to read. Unlike Forethought/PowerPoint, Autodesk was never acquired and stayed independent. A popular excerpt from it is John Walker evaluating 3 different venture capital deals.[2]

The Wordperfect story[3] is interesting. Because their headquarters was in Utah and intertwined in Mormonism, the book mentions several management practices that many would consider strange and oppressive (can't go to dentist during company hours, etc). From a technical perspective, one of the takeaways was their ill-fated decision to stick with assembly language too long instead of using a higher level language like 'C Language'. This affected the time-to-market for new products like the Windows version of Wordperfect. This is eerily similar to FogCreek/FogBugz strategy to stay with their internal proprietary "Wasabi" programming language. That affected their ability to create new features to keep with competitor Atlassian. This doesn't mean companies should always go from low-level to higher-level language for productivity. Google Inc did the opposite: Larry Page wrote first Pagerank system in Java and Python and his first employees rewrote it in lower-level C++ for better cpu & memory utilization of their servers.

The Chandler (personal information manager) story chronicled in the book "Dreaming in Code"[4] is very good. Even though Chandler never got well-known like AutoCAD and Wordperfect, the book lets you see how a lot of smart people can get sidetracked by endless architectural debates which delays the release of usable software. (Basically, the opposite of Eric Ries' Lean Startup where you have a Minimum Viable Product and iterate fast with real customers.) It's also a lesson that having money (Mitch Kapor's generous funding) becomes a handicap. You'd think that not having the pressure of a limited runway and not running out of VC money would empower the developers but that didn't happen. Instead, it just prolonged a lot of software architecture debates. In contrast, when companies are starving and in near-death bankruptcy, it tends to focus the mind very intensely on how to create business value. (E.g. Airbnb's founders selling cereal boxes in order to live another day and build the lodging platform.)

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Dreaming-Code-Programmers-Transcenden...