Big Red Button

Did you ever say something in jest that later came back to you as a statement of fact or belief? Well, then this tale should be familiar to you.

Years ago a company I worked for was spending money like crazy on tools to improve its software development processes. Naturally, this was done not as the result of planning, nor early in the planning stages, but rather in panic in media res, as it were (I never get to insert Latin terms), in the middle of things after schedule slips but before budget tightening. A tool which was advertised to convert requirements into test procedures was purchased and training obtained. A suite of CASE tools which included code generation was bought and a whole new group to support them was created. You get the picture.

During a casual conversation with team members I joked, "Yep, by golly, we're gonna be able to feed in those requirements, push the Big Red Button on the wall that says "Software" and the code will just pop out the other end, along with the test plans and procedures which will go into the automated validation facility, and presto! tested, documented, configured code and not a human in sight beyond requirements." Because we were a test tools development team building simulators and test language components and were acutely aware of the incredible complexity of integrating COTS products with in-house developed stuff, this seemed so ridiculous as to be funny for a minute or two. Okay, back to work.

A month or so later, against all odds, the Big Red Button surfaced again, in a management presentation. Here, in toner, on plastic, with a heading and a fancy border, was a proclamation of the seamless cradle-to-grave software environment that we would soon put into place, the sole interface to which would be a "Big Red Button."

Believe it, or not.

I'd like to say it got me a huge raise and promotion as a great visionary, but I just didn't understand how to market the concept. Damn! Do you think I can copyright the name?

--DonOlson


edit: "not a human in site" -> "not a human in sight" (or should it have been "on site"?)
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