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beyond corporate purpose

We grow software

17 Jun 2010

Since 10to1 started (which seems ages ago, and yesterday at the same time), we’ve been telling people that we develop software. Or maybe that we create it, or even build it.

These seem to be the verbs that people use when talking about software. It’s something that you build, like a house, or a car. You take some piece of code from this library and a nice hack from that library, glue it together in your favorite language, et voilà, your software is ready. Everything else in this world is built that way, so it’s only logical software is built the same way.

Completely logical. Except that, well, it isn’t like that.

Creating software is more like creating a painting. You start with an outline of what you want, and then you start adding details, and color, and generally, make it a complete painting. And then, when you’re satisfied with your painting, it’s finished.

Creating software is even more like creating a business. You start with a limited set of functions, and then you add a service here, and a feature there. Your business grows and before you know it, you are Apple.

An even more compelling image is that of a tree. You start by making sure there is a trunk. This trunk is the core of your application: it will support all functionality. Just like the trunk grows with the rest of the tree, your core starts small, and grows.

Once the trunk is in place, the branches are added. You add a bit of functionality here, add some extra-nice usability there. Branches that are seldom used, get less attention than those that are used every day. Branches that are ugly, or not used at all, are cut. You don’t know which branches will be ugly, or will get a lot of attention from the start. But you do know it when you see the tree in all its glory.

We think that the tree analogy matches perfectly on how we believe software should be created. That’s why, from hence forward, 10to1 will describe its activities as ‘We grow software’.

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