Thursday, August 14, 2008

Out of the Box

I'm beginning to think that the term "out of the box" has jumped the shark.

Anyone involved in software development has heard, read and probably used this term at one time or another. If you are involved in Groovy and Grails development you probably hear it all the time. I think Scott Davis holds the record for most uses of the term in a single presentation. In the book "Beginning Groovy and Grails: From Novice to Professional" (an excellent book, by the way, which I am almost done poring over and will write a review on soon), this term appears about a dozen times. It's easy to understand why since Grails does come with so many features and so many things that just work right out of... well you know what I mean.

So, you ask, what's the big deal? It's just plain wrong, that's what. It's difficult these days to find software or software development tools that were ever in a box to begin with. This is especially true with open source tools like Groovy and Grails. And I am worried that using this kind of inaccurate term is going to affect the way others look at our profession. I mean, as programmers we're supposed to be at least somewhat intelligent, but what are people going to think when they hear us talking about features and benefits coming out of a box that never existed?

I think this is a serious problem and not an easy one to solve. How else can we express the magic of things like GORM without using so many words that we get jaw cramps. Nonetheless, it's a problem that must be solved. If we do not want people to start lumping us in with the likes of used car salesmen or, even worse, lawyers, we had better get started looking for another, more accurate, term.

I think we can do it if we all work together and if we're willing to think outside the box.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Out_of_the_box

"the phrase is often used in a less literal sense for software, which may not be distributed in any box but offer certain functions 'out of the box.'"

Ed.T said...

Let me get this straight, you have an issue with "Out of the Box" when there is no box but you are fine with "Death March" to describe a project when nobody dies? :-)

I do agree completely that Beginning Groovy and Grails From Novice to Professional is a great book even though the title could stand a clever acronym.

Dave Klein said...

Anonymous, thanks for clearing that up for me.

ed.t, Consistency is not a character quality of mine. And, by the way, what's not clever about BGGFNP? :)

Shawn Hartsock said...

Instead of "Out of the Box!" I vote for "Ready to Go!" or how about "For Free!" ...

And from now on I'll call "Beginning Groovy and Grails From Novice to Professional" ... the BGG pronounced "the Be-Gee-Gee"

Dave Klein said...

Shawn, BGG sounds good. Then we have DGG and BGG. But when Glen and Peter get done we'll have two GinAs. This kind of confusion could warrant another blog post!

Shawn Hartsock said...

GinA and GrinA? GinA and GinB (Gee-Nuh and Geen-Bee) ... ??? I'm just winging it here.