Pet Peeve – Non-Windows Certified Applications

Here’s a quick way to piss me off. Provide a service, provide software for that service, and don’t bother writing the software according to Windows guidelines. Yes, that’s right, I’m talking to you ass-whipe who wants me to give administrative access to an end user in a production environment because “my application writes to the c: drive… the root folder of c: drive that is”.

Now that I think about it, this is the second time and attendance / employee management tool that has required administrative access to run. It amazes me that companies still develop software without thinking about the fact that the modern network is, usually, tied up tighter than a BDSM fetish junkie.

This, in a normal, sane, rational, world, means that the end user, who runs Excel and Word, checks his email and spends most of the time away from his desk, is not going to get administrative access, nor power user privlidge. Ever heard of the concept of least privlidge?


And the idiocy continues. Create an application, create an install set for the application and a configuration tool. This is what makes sense. To most people I would hope. Instead, considering that it is the year 2008, Windows XP is about to be discontinued, create an application that uses Visual Fox Pro, that probably hasn’t been updated since Windows 98 was introduced, and have it have an install set. That then requires someone to copy and past another folder into the path, and then have to manually edit an ini file in notepad to setup.

What. The. Hell! Is this DOS or something? Not to mention that it cannot handle path names with spaces in it. So you can’t install to c:\program files\your application name here, no, you have to install it to c:\APPNAME. Because, well, eight point three notation and all that.

The best, chery-on-top of the steaming pile of turd, is this: send a person who doesn’t really know how to setup and configure the application to install it, at a remote site, knowing that there is no IT support personel after 12pm. Send the person to install the “application” after 3pm. The branch closes at 4pm, so that makes perfect sense. Right? Right? er… Right?

So now I sit and wait for the chap to check the settings on the machine he copied this folder from, to find out if it is working right. Another pet peave, installing software that requires multiple users to access a database, and having it installed on a users computer.

And it gets even better.

The reason that application doesn’t work is because it comes up with one of those error messages that make end users think that the arrival of the anti-christ is immenent and the world is about to end. You know the error message:

  • An Error has Occured (and it’s your fault).
  • Error Number 202 (because we like random numbers).
  • INVALID PATH OR FILENAME (because capital letters convey the gravity of the error).
  • In Module MAIN (because you know what a module is)
  • Line 210 (because you obviously have access to the module described above, the source code of the module that is).

The “technician” that is installing the software is confused by this error message, after all, the configuration file that he copied from the workstation that the application is currently installed on works great. So we examine said configuration file. It’s pointing to a network share.

That’s right folks! The configuration file states, that the host machine for the applications database, is on a users workstation.  So over the cacophany of head striking desk, we check to see if the current user has access to the folder share on the users workstation. Struck dumb by the lack of surprise we discover that, no, the user does not, actually, have access to the folder share. We are not surprised by this.

If this were some small time company with an inconsequential piece of software, it wouldn’t rile me so. When the software in question has to deal with the number of hours that people work, and the quantity of their renumeration, we’re no longer dealing with an arbitary little package. You’re dealing with peoples livelihoods. It may be arbitary to salaried people, but when you live on your hourly wage, an hour is a lifetime if you don’t get paid for it.

Tomorrow, I will instruct my IT guy to check the share permissions, and configure the workstations to communicate with each other. I will also ask him to check the users permissions and if the application in question will work with normal user rights (I doubt it). I envision that we will have to supply the user in question with local administrator rights on his workstation, which will only lead to tears later.

This is why so many software developing companies in South Africa never get anywhere and use archaic contracts to ensure user-base retention. Their software is terrible. If given half a choice, most companies would ditch these third rate software companies within a heart beat.

Pet peaved to hell and back…


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