Passionate about Software

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Something that has been on my mind for a long time is the concept of being passionate about software. I often use this to measure how good software is before I buy it. If a company is not passionate about their software (according to a few metrics I’ve come up with), then I don’t want to use their product. So how do I know if they are passionate? Here are a few things I look for:

  • How buggy is their software?
    • You can get a good feel for this by searching the internet for phrases like "[software name] error" or "[software name] problem". If you get a lot of hits, maybe it’s buggy. Also, look in forums to see how many people are having problems, and if they are finding easy solutions for their problems. Also, search for reviews of the product.
  • How good is their support?
    • This is a little harder to nail down. One thing I read somewhere is that if you are looking at investing in a super expensive product that you will use for a long time, it’s worth paying some money up front to talk to some of the company’s existing clients. Ask your sales rep for some other companies that are using their software. And then see if you can get ahold of an IT person from that company, and buy them a lunch to chat about the software. If this is a very expensive product, it would even be worth traveling some if you have to, because it could mean saving your company a lot of headache and money in the long run (if you find out that the software is crappy).
  • Do they fix security holes?
    • Look for security patches available for the software. Also, look at sites like Secunia and US-CERT to see how many unpatched vulnerabilities exist, especially if they are critical and exploits are in the wild.
  • How expensive is their product?
    • If their product is expensive, that’s not a bad sign by itself. But if they have an expensive product and it’s buggy or their support stinks…this is a sign that the company is just out to make money and they aren’t passionate about their software.

Each of these metrics by themselves are not necessarily bad. But if you find that the software fits into 2 or more of these categories…you might want to look elsewhere.

One of my biggest pet peeves is using software that is made by a company that is not passionate about software. Life is too short to live with poorly supported, expensive and buggy software…especially when there are very good alternatives available. I will not name names, but there are a few major software companies out there that I believe are not passionate about software.