Banana Applications?

Based on feedback I need to make something clear first: We at ISIS Papyrus NEVER provide custom code for a single customer. We deliver a STANDARD product only and all customers on a same release have the same functionality. But yes, we do expand our product functionality on request that becomes a standard feature of the next software release and is fully included in our QA and 2-3 month of regression testing.

Despite that, we recently had once again the discussion with a client as to why the ‘Papyrus Solution’ he has acquired does not work the way he needs it to work. He complained that there were lots of bugs that had to be fixed and that so much testing had to happen at the customer site. Previously people had used the joke that Papyrus was ‘banana software’ that ripened at the customer. As a matter of fact it is not the Papyrus system that has to ripen at the customer. It is the application that has to be defined the way the business needs it. And that is just the way it should be!

Why do people complain? Is the software really that unstable that it requires continuous bug-fixes at the customer site? Absolutely not. There are three situations in which customer management (usually people not involved in the project) make such comments.

First, there could be a real bug in the software. We are not gods who can create flawless code and we also can not test each and every possibility Papyrus can be used for. In 90 per cent of cases such a malfunction can be bypassed. There are in fact very few crashes in our software which has to do with the 9 compilers that it usually runs through. While GUI crashes are the most annoying to business users and impact opinion the worst, they are the least important because it is a different executable than the node kernel and does not make the system unstable.

Second, the customer makes new functionality a ‘critical requirement’ during a project. Either we expand our software or else … That means that our normal three month quality cycle can not be performed. This problem is the worst once again in Desktop and Client. It was the main reason for us to develop Papyrus EYE, so that we do not have to expand our solution for a specific project but can simply define the GUI much like we do documents and processes.

THIRD AND FOREMOST, the Papyrus Platform always runs an application that is custom-defined for the business. Yes, they build on existing frameworks of classes and rules, but the beauty of it is the managed and controllable customization concept. BUT, it still is a custom application and that is the way it should be. In many cases that custom definition was not performed by ISIS consultants but by a partner or an external consultant. When a customer now calls and says that the ‘Papyrus System’ is unstable he refers in 99.9 percent to his APPLICATION that in most cases was not defined by ISIS. So in the worst case he has a ‘BANANA APPLICATION’ that was coded by consultants in hit-and-run style and never properly tested.

Do not get me wrong. I am not trying to shift the blame here or not take responsibility. We have always made those applications work and rarely had to fix crashes to do so. The Papyrus Platform enables fast application definition but that does not mean that they can not be wrong or do not have to be tested. They need less testing and can be fixed faster, but it needs a normal project management approach. Hardly ever does a customer allow for enough time for testing. As the project is the delayed, the project deadline is not. So the testing timeslot gets shorter and shorter. That applies mostly to the adapter interfaces, because usually the Papyrus Framework is long done before the backend application can deliver test data. Are you aware that is the main reason that techies like XML files? Because it is easier to create test data by hand in XML than in some other binary format.

In a project a year ago I had to visit the customer site to calm such waves. The application had been created by a non-ISIS consultant who had no time to come back. It had worked fine, but then the customer decided to replicate it to three production nodes with linked workflow queues. It actually worked this way, but the defined queue rules were interfering with each other. Once we figured that out it was easily solved. The main problem was that the production manager would just log the bugs but had no interest to support the debugging. So they had a huge amount of problem tickets from ONE bug. Also a way to create IT jobs.

So I have to ask project managers, production managers and CIO’s to understand that there are systems and applications. If an application does not work on a platform like Papyrus it is mostly the defined application that has to be changed. If your document in MS-Word does not have the right text you don’t call Microsoft. You simply correct it. You can do the same with the Papyrus Platform because it is not complex Java programming and the changes are perfectly managed in the WebRepository.


One thought on “Banana Applications?

  1. I always say “If It´s not worth Testing then It´s not worth Building”.
    Most projects can meet their deadlines just by living to this rule. Because when you are not going to build it, as it will anyway not being used otherwise you would certainly test it, you also not have to specify the requirements, doing the analysis and design and write the testscripts that are never will execute. Easilier you cannot save time in your project and meet deadlines.

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