Living Software

As I've been working through my thoughts on creating apps and software, I've realized that software is pretty unique. Most software feels so fluid and flexible. It's relatively easy to make changes. For me, releasing something feels pretty anticlimactic. I put something out there, but now I need to keep taking care of it. There's new features to add, bugs to fix, compatibility issues to address when operating systems or browsers change. Software feels alive to me in a lot of ways. And I've been struggling with this feeling.

One of my other hobbies is bookbinding. The process is pretty simple—basically gather materials, make materials the right size, put materials together1. Once a book is put together, and the glue has dried, that's it. You don't go back to that book and make changes to it after it's all assembled. It's pretty satisfying, and in stark contrast to software.

I love making apps and websites, but I'm finding it very cathartic to make something that I can be done with, that I don't have to return to. I'm not sure if there is a way to get this feeling with software or not. Maybe it's just me, but I just do not feel like I can be "done" with any software I make. I would like to figure out a way, but it's kind of a Catch-22. The fun part is making something, so I don’t want people to use what I make because I don’t really want to support it. But I don’t want to go through the effort making something if no one is going to use it. I could do better at setting expectations and say "no updates, use as is", but most people don't want to use something that will never get updates. Then I'm back to not wanting to make something no one will use. I keep going in circles.

I think a lot of this is just me and my expectations for myself. As a developer, I completely understand when other developers are not constantly pushing out updates or sunset an app, and I think a lot of people are just as understanding and forgiving. But as a user it can feel frustrating when a tool you depend on is not getting bug fixes or goes away completely. I don't want to make people feel like that, and honestly, it feels like the only solution is to not make anything.

This is what is going through my head right now. Might figure it all out one day.

  1. Yes, this is an oversimplification. ↩︎