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Be a responsible developer

t4rzsan profile image Jakob Christensen Originally published at leruplund.dk ・2 min read

This post first appeared on my personal blog.

The world is evolving around software. Software controls everything we do from toasting bread to sending people into space. Software enables people and companies. It is in fact really hard to think of a job or a task that does not include software in some way, at least in the Western hemisphere.

That puts us, the developers, in a special spot. We are the ones that make it all possible. It gives us great power and as you know, with great power comes great responsibility.

Not all software developers live up to that responsibility. The recent WannaCry ransomware attack is one such example where evil-minded software developers take advantage of laymen's lack of knowledge when it comes to computers and software.

But we also need to be responsible developers on a smaller scale, when developing everyday software such as mobile phone apps and web sites for commercial and other purposes.

What do I mean by being a responsible developer? I mean that you need to be nice and respectful. Don't be pushy and annoying. Don't pretend that your app can do stuff that it cannot. Be helpful and serviceminded.

Just last week I downloaded an app to my iPhone from Apple App Store. The app was a calendar and todo-list for things you need to do around your house. On the first run it requested permission to show notifications which I allowed because - you know - it sort of makes sense to get notifications from a calendar/todo-list.

It did not take long before the app started acting up. Within an hour or two, the app popped up a notification with some kind of click-bait message, trying to lure me into opening the app.

I immediately uninstalled the app. The developer should be ashamed for being irresponsible and wasting everybodys time.

A couple of months ago my father bought a new laptop. Nothing fancy, just a laptop for checking emails and netbanking. The machine came with a bunch of unrelated, useless blotware that is only used for marketing stunts. My father is in his seventies. He has no idea what a computer does and he does not stand a chance against bloatware. Of course, I removed it all. Lenovo, I am looking at you. Start being responsible.

The list of examples goes on and on...

Some of the worst examples are social media. They will bug you and bother you in an endless stream of emails, toasts, badges and what-not until you cave in and open their app. Even after you have disabled all kinds of notifications they will email you just to make sure.

I know we are all under pressure form CEOs and CMOs that want to drive traffic to your apps and web sites but we, the developers, are the last line of defence, and we need to step up and create software that is useful and a joy to use. I believe that in the long run this will make your more money than being annoying.

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Jakob Christensen

@t4rzsan

Actuary with love for programming. Besides coding, I love Icelandic horses, math, and photography. All featured photos are my own.

Discussion

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There is a cross between development/marketing/revenue generation. I'm sure that the developer didn't want an app pop up, but they need to earn money and the current state of the app store really buries any app that costs money. It forces the developer to look for other ways of generating revenue. If the developer doesn't do it, maybe another one will.

 

Yes, you are absolutely right and that only makes the whole thing worse as more and more apps compete for the user's attention. They will do so more and more aggressively.

The purpose of building apps should alway be to make the user's life easier, not more miserable.