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Software as an engineering discipline

There are some interesting things happening over at SEMAT (Software Engineering Method and Theory). A great name list of participants, with many of the luminaries of our industry participating. It will be interesting to see where this will lead.

I’ve tried to participate with some previous attempts at similar things, such as some work by the now defunct WWISA (World Wide Institute of Software Architects). There are a lot of challenges, however, and of the various content on the SEMAT site some of the most interesting information is the counter arguments such as those by Jeorge Aranda in his linked blog post Against SEMAT.

I’ve not given up on the concept of software (and systems development) as an engineering discipline yet, but a lot of additional time, energy, and research will need to take place to move the industry effectively in this direction; and it’s not that we’ve not that we’ve not already been investing in that direction for at least the past 40 years.

Most organizations don’t have the option of waiting for this work to come to fruition, so in the meantime the success experienced in projects that take advantage of an iterative, incremental, empirical (Agile) approach are where successful organizations should focus now; while the methods and theories that might ultimately lead us to software as a true engineering discipline continue to evolve under the umbrella of their own empirical process.

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Vernon Stinebaker

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