Friday, March 16, 2007

A Small Bridge Building Parable

A small county in rural Washington needed a bridge to span a creek for a new road. Joe, the county road supervisor, contacted the Redmond Bridge Company for a bid. The RBC rep, Bill, came on site and said, "Shoot, we can build a bridge here no problemo. It's all prefab so your road crew won't have to learn a thing except how to snap pieces together."
Joe contacted the Penguin Bridge Company for a second bid. Their rep came on site and said, "Yep. We can help you build a bridge here. We can teach your employees how to hot rivet and build it with our steel trusses."
Joe thought about it. He didn't want his employees to learn hot riveting. Joe thought snapping sounded easier. Joe just wanted a bridge, so he gave the contract to Redmond Bridge even though they were more expensive.
Soon massive steel trusses arrived in trucks. Joe's team started snapping them together. True to Redmond's word, that's all they needed to learn. Joe was so pleased he had selected Redmond. The bridge grew everyday. All were happy until Joe ran out of trusses with 20 feet of creek to still span. He called Redmond Bridge, "Hey Joe here. We've got the first 80 feet of the bridge done and it was easy, we just need the rest of the supplies to reach that last 20 feet. Can you have the stuff here in the morning?"
"Well," the Redmond rep said, " unfortunately we only make 80 foot bridges. I thought you knew that?"
Joe replied, "Well how do I finish the last 20 feet?".
The Redmond rep said, "Do you know how to hot rivet?"

The above story from some local newspaper in the Northwest (whose url escapes me at the moment) summerizes so much of my experience with Microsoft tools. They get you 80 percent of the way there and stop. At the end of the day, I have to learn all the stuff Microsoft was sheltering me from.
Yesterday I was setting up a batch build on our nightly build machine. The new MSBuild tool is great. It saved a ton of time until it got to my deployment projects, at which time it said,
"*.vdproj is not supported by MSBuild and cannot be built.". Hmmm. It will build all the projects except the one I need to actually deploy the code.
Microsoft, the 80 percent solution.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't care about microsoft and their poor tools - I was looking to learn how to hot rivet.