[Top] [All Lists]

[ontolog-forum] How not to write specifications

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 01 Jul 2008 10:07:13 -0400
Message-id: <486A3A11.6010809@xxxxxxxxxxx>
In response to legal requirements by various governments and the EU,
Microsoft has released a massive dump of protocols, binary file
formats, and other specifications for Windows Vista (including the
.NET Framework), Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, Office 2007,
Exchange Server 2007, and Office SharePoint Server 2007:    (01)

http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2008/jun08/06-30InteropUpdatePR.mspx    (02)

That's the good news.  The bad news is that people who have looked
at this dump have summarized the results in one pithy observation:    (03)

    In order to understand any of it, you must understand *all* of it.    (04)

Another comment is that the complexity of this dump makes the successful
reverse engineering by open-source developers seem like a miracle.  In
fact, there are reports that Microsoft employees read the open source
documentation in order to understand the products they're working on.    (05)

This complexity explains how Microsoft managed to spend more money on
developing Vista than NASA spent on the Apollo mission to the moon.
It also explains how Apple, with a fraction of the resources of MSFT,
was able to produce a more stable, more efficient, more secure OS
that also provides more functionality and a better user interface.    (06)

The moral of this story is that writing complete specifications
cannot, by itself, make a system intelligible.  Furthermore, the
task of rewriting those spec's in a formal language, by itself,
will do nothing to make them more intelligible.    (07)

What makes Apple's OS X more intelligible, efficient, and robust
than Vista is the fundamental principle at the core of Unix from
day 1:  modularity.    (08)

The original NT, which was based on the same foundation as OS/2,
was very modular until version 3.5.  But for version 4.0, Bill Gates
made an incredible blunder:  he edicted that the GUI interfaces for
Windows had to be incorporated into the OS kernel.  That decision
destroyed the modularity, increased the complexity of the kernel by
many orders of magnitude, and enabled bugs in the GUI to crash the
entire system.    (09)

Modularity is essential for any large project of any kind,
including formal ontologies.    (010)

John Sowa    (011)

Message Archives: http://ontolog.cim3.net/forum/ontolog-forum/  
Subscribe/Config: http://ontolog.cim3.net/mailman/listinfo/ontolog-forum/  
Unsubscribe: mailto:ontolog-forum-leave@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Shared Files: http://ontolog.cim3.net/file/
Community Wiki: http://ontolog.cim3.net/wiki/ 
To Post: mailto:ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx    (012)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>