But Do We Need MoMA?

By Jeff Cogswell  |  Posted 2009-04-07 Print this article Print


In a perfect world, you shouldn't need a tool like MoMA. I know that I have a tendency to raise the ire of some programmers by being a perfectionist; I've been accused of being overly idealistic in my goal of teaching programmers how to build perfect software. And, indeed, our industry has come a long way-users are no longer required to type cryptic commands into the command prompt, and software houses have realized that blaming the user every time something goes wrong really isn't good for business.

But part of creating perfect software means creating robust software. Creating robust software involves many factors, such as isolating your system calls into a single library (at least with the kind of GUI-oriented, user-friendly software we want on Windows and Linux). Creating code like this should come naturally to a good developer. If you unintentionally break the basic rules of sound software design, then you should fix them early on, and not after your software is finished and suddenly a client asks you to port it from Windows to Linux.

In other words, by the time you run MoMA, you should already have done whatever the tool ends up saying you need to do, without any intentions to port your software-just as the Paint.NET developers did.

But I need to qualify that statement. In fact, Mono isn't a 100 percent port of .NET. There are parts that are missing, and the MoMA results include a column for "Not Implemented" and another for "Missing". I, for one, am not about to refrain from using aspects of the .NET framework simply because I "might" want to port my software someday. (Case in point: The Mono project has no plans to implement the WPF, or Windows Presentation Foundation, API.)

So much for the perfect world I dream of.

Perhaps, then, the best thing to do is to isolate the calls-again, as in the Paint.NET software-so that if you do eventually need to port, you can. Or, if that's not possible, then you'll want to make sure the requirements don't require porting, and that the client understands that your software will not port.

The bottom line: I would use the MoMA tool only for projects where I'm quite sure I'm going to be porting the software. You know the routine: Use early, use often. After all, who would want to have a completed, solid software package with millions of lines of code, and only then discover that you have a thousand calls into unsupported functions? If you use MoMA, you probably won't find yourself in that situation.

In a perfect world, anyway.

Jeff Cogswell is the author of Designing Highly Useable Software (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0782143016) among other books and is the owner/operator of CogsMedia Training and Consulting.Currently Jeff is a senior editor with Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to joining Ziff, he spent about 15 years as a software engineer, working on Windows and Unix systems, mastering C++, PHP, and ASP.NET development. He has written over a dozen books.

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