Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Arrr! Humor in Software Development

At work today, it was hard to avoid the fact that it was Talk Like a Pirate Day, even if one wanted to. People were talking like pirates during meetings, between meetings and while talking about meetings. It be a lot o' fun.

Today Blackboard,Inc. announced that they were releasing two new language packs for the latest version of its software, one for Pirate Language and one for Pig Latin. I found one article that also has some good quotes from some Blackboard, Inc. employees with whom I've had the pleasure of working.

Blackboard, Inc. has received some criticism for this, because it was assumed that they could be working on bug fixes or enhancements that their customers have requested. I, on the other hand, think it's great. It is so refreshing to see a sense of humor exhibited in such a staid and sober arena as software development. Generally the people who would be producing such language packs are not the ones likely to be working on bug fixes, but even if they were, is it such a bad thing for employees to get to work on something fun occasionally? I would imagine that it actually makes their serious work more efficient and productive.

Now, back when I studying to be a software engineer when I grew up, I was the project team member advocating things like "crash" buttons explicitly designed to make our applications fail spectacularly combined with humorous or nonsensical error messages. I think it was a complete coincidence that these brainstorming activities also included my fellow team members' plans to FedEx me to Guatemala.

Today is also the 25th anniversary of the smiley, which seems highly appropriate. :)

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