Thursday, February 26, 2009

Trying to kill creativeness in programming: Why a "Programsmith" would fail

Ever wanted to be a great musician but cannot read notes? No problem, using a computer program will help you getting along and famous: Microsoft Songsmith.

Songsmith composes music for you, the only thing to do is to adjust some sliders and sing into a microphone. From that moment on music will fill your laptop, quick and easy, nice and dandy, for every occasion in every phase of your life.

Why there is no "Programsmith"...

So much for the idea the creators of Songsmith try to sell. But, as we all know, in real life it is not so easy to just create an algorithm that scans sound and spits out world-class music. The idea surely is appealing. And it is not really new: Many customers and project managers dream of an IT-service-provider/programmer/administrator that exactly solves problems in the same way: Best would be to "sing" a little requirement into the phone so that the complete and working program can be deliverd a week later. And do not technologies like RAD, XML, EJB, Webservices suggest the possibility of a Programsmith? Simply connecting the modules and you are done?

... and why a "Programsmith" would fail

Certainly not, projects in IT do not work that way. You have to communicate and get the requirements right, make project plans, split the workload into functional points and instruct the programmers, involve third-party-modules and interfaces. All in all it is a creative process and we all know that. But our customers (and quite a hand full of programmers) would like a "Programsmith" to exactly do that: Draw a little plan, involve some kind of magic compiler (UML, anyone?) and deploy the program.

Well I had fun scanning through the results of Songsmith videos on youtube viewing classical hits interpreted by the program like "Roxanne" from "The Police". I think that this is the hearable pendant of a (more sophisticated) program how a kind of Programsmith would compose it. It will not work out in the end, at least not as long as the to-be-written-program is a counterpart to the complexity of a "Stock Aitken Waterman" tune simple enough to be more or less replicated by Songsmith. But even that one crackles and creaks a lot.

I wonder if there is a similar video out there treating programming in such a way (videos like singing to be successful selling "Glow In The Dark Towels") using the sliders "XML", "Webservices", "Cloud-computing" and such. Would be funny to see the results of them. Well, let me search a bit... .

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