Thursday, November 30, 2006

Why standards matter

From the Spanning Sync blog: "Google Calendar is currently experiencing some technical problems. Internally we often refer to building an application on top of Google Calendar (which is itself still in beta) as 'building a house during an earthquake.'"

This makes me think of standards as seismic safety for software. With a standard, one can have a standard server running independent of the Internet that one can test against. When the server platform is a service and not a standard, if the service goes down, anything you're trying to build on top of it slams to a halt as well.

2 comments:

cwood said...

Scott,

I'd love to have a stable server to test against. Ideally Google would have a more rigorous change management process, and wouldn't make constant changes (many of which introduce new bugs) to their live server. But I'm not sure standards are the whole answer.

Ironically, most of the errors I'm getting now have to do with iCalendar-formatted recurrence rules. (Google Calendar uses its own XML-based format for everything except recurrence rules, which were apparently complex enough that even Google didn't want to reinvent them.) The problem is that when I update a recurrence with a valid iCaledar recurrence rule, Google Calendar throws an error--but only sometimes.

So, to make a short story long, it's not only standards that are important but also bug-free implementations of them.

Regards,
Charlie

Scott said...

Charlie,

Good point -- standards are only as good as their implementations. Thanks for the insight.

Scott