Photo Corners

A   S C R A P B O O K   O F   S O L U T I O N S   F O R   T H E   P H O T O G R A P H E R

Enhancing the enjoyment of taking pictures with news that matters, features that entertain and images that delight. Published frequently.

The Petrified Forest of Software Development Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

11 September 2018

If you want to become a continual source of amusement to yourself, we suggest you roll up your sleeves and start developing your own software. Not only will you roll on the floor laughing at yesterday's 'ingenious' algorithm but you'll look forward to tomorrow's 'revelation' with barely containable anticipation.

That's because software development, unlike building a coffin, is never quite finished. Oh, it has its deadlines, too. But that doesn't mean it's done kicking. It can always be improved.

You just have to think about it a little while. And nothing quite focuses the mind on improvements like actually using the product.


Take our little macro that reports our current month's editorial output, which we first described in our archive story this month.

New & Improved. Now with total images. The count yesterday before we wrote this.

The other day we realized we could easily add a count of the images we've published, not just how many stories had images.

It wasn't as easy as we thought it would be but, in retrospect, it never hurts to learn how easy it will be the next time we try a stunt like that.

When we wrote an obit over the weekend, we realized we weren't counting the obit thumbnail with the images. So we made yet another revision to add that count to the image count.

Oh, and at the same time, we noticed we'd temporarily hard-coded last month's date into our code to count various kinds of stories. Just to see if it would work. It did, but the accuracy of that approach expired with the month, so we turned it into the variable we had, in our excitement at solving the initial problem, forgotten about.

As we said, we're looking forward eagerly to see what other improvements more use of the software will suggest.


The evolving nature of software development goes for all software from operating systems to applications to phone apps to the stuff embedded in the Internet of Things.

And it's true notwithstanding the fallacy often pronounced with finality that the current state of affairs is just fine, thank you and no further updates could ever possibly be needed.

Software development is a product of the mind. And that means it is constantly evolving.

We like to hope version 1.1 is at least as smart as a seven year old, having attained the age of reason. And we hope by version 3.0, it can drive. We like to see it married and raising a family by version 7.0. And we hope it has a nice retirement fund going by the time it hits version 10.

We wouldn't want it to be cut off along the way.

It's not like software is a crescent wrench or a kitchen blender that does one simple thing until someone simpler puts the wrench in the blender. And tries to fix the blender with the wrench.

Software is not a petrified forest. It's alive. Like the mind.

So when it comes to paying for constantly improving software, there's really no shame in subscribing to it. That's pretty much what we were doing with one-year and 18-month update cycles anyway.


That "constantly improving" catch is critical, though. The model doesn't apply to software that treads water without an update for years and years.

And the "improving" part of that is essential, too.

Yesterday Adobe, for example, released a sneak peek of a greatly improved Content-Aware Fill in Photoshop CC. Content-Aware Fill has been a miraculous tool, frankly, that we turn to in favor of the Clone tool even for spotting.

But, as we confessed in our last big retouching job, it isn't perfect. So we do resort to the Clone tool when we need more control. But how we would have used the new Content-Aware Fill workspace to mirror the eye, to name just one problem it would have made much easier on that job.

Certainly recent updates to Lightroom have been problematic. Disappointing, in fact.

But that merely proves the point. The Lightroom product managers addressed the issues promptly with (an apology as well as) updates rolled out more frequently than the previous once-a-year schedule. And they have continued to bungle the software and chip away at improvements over the last couple of releases.

Nothing is bullet-proof. And only dead wood is ever petrified. But if a product is constantly improving it's worth subscribing to because that's how software development thrives.

BackBack to Photo Corners