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The Mortality of Software

I meant to link this great article by Jason Snell a couple weeks ago:

Every time an app I rely on exposes its mortality, I realize that all the software I rely on is made by people. And some of it is made by a very small group of people, or even largely a single person. And it gives me pause, because whether that person decides to stop development or retires or is hit by the proverbial bus, the result is the same: That tool is probably going to fade away.

A lot of the software I rely on is a couple of decades old. And while those apps have supported the livelihoods of a bunch of talented independent developers, it can’t last forever. When James Thomson decides to move to the Canary Islands and play at the beach all day, what will become of PCalc? When Rich Siegel hangs up his shingle at Bare Bones Software, will BBEdit retire as well? Apps can last as abandonware for a while, but as the 32-bit Mac app apocalypse taught us, incompatibility comes for every abandoned app eventually.

The final segment of this week’s episode of Connected reminded me about the impermanence of software (which is something I covered extensively before) and how, ultimately, the apps we depend upon are made by people, who will eventually stop working on them. As Snell argues, we may not always be prepared for change in our workflows, but that’s exactly what I love about keeping up with new apps and revisiting the way we get our work done.