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Not So Very High Tech

April 25, 2008

Today I spent the day giving a workshop for a small group of my colleagues. We all work at a large Dutch ICT company which implements and supports, among others, large scale scanning and imaging solutions.

One product in particular was the subject of today’s workshop. Let’s call the product ‘World Class Capture’ for the moment. Since ‘World Class Capture’ is indeed one of the leading vendors expectations of my, mostly younger, colleagues were high since this product must be High Tech! Probably expectations were a little bit too high afterwards.

When we entered the realm of the build-in scripting and programming possibilities I noticed a kind off disappointment. No web services? No .NET based assemblies? No beautiful Object Oriented interface? No Next High Tech Thing? No. Nope.

And they were right indeed. The only two build-in programming things in ‘World Class Capture’ are a pesky COM interface and a bloody ancient basic interpreter.

Since I have been working with this product, also among others, for the past seven years I did get used to the shortcomings and discrepancies. However, viewing things from a small distance again I wondered Why, What and How.

Why does ‘World Class Capture’ keep this old vehicle in the product? Well, suppose they would replace it with something High Tech! Than the answer is not too difficult. A lot of existing implementations would break after an upgrade.

What can ‘World Class Capture’ do to evolve to some New Technology? First of all, why should they? They have a large market share after all. So the product is good enough indeed. Maybe one day someone at ‘World Class Capture’ wakes up.

How should they change the product? Well. Keep it backwards compatible off course. Envisioning a new major version with the ‘old’ programming tools alongside some New High Tech Thing for the future is not that difficult, however.

For today to my colleagues and me it seems that a large part of today’s real world software implementations aren’t fancy high tech at all. Millions or billions of paper documents are scanned and processed using the assistance of some bloody ancient basic interpreter called Softbridge Basic Language.

With Kind Regards,
Aad Slingerland
Zevenaar
The Netherlands

 

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