On Yourdon

Dear Editor,

I don't think Ed Yourdon's presentation yesterday matched the criteria of a good ICSE keynote address. He failed to inspire, inform or stimulate delegates. While driving home the ugly reality of software development in the trenches, Yourdon seems to have shied away from addressing many important issues that matter to software engineering researchers and practitioners. For example, Yourdon offered no opinions, experiences or insights about how to improve professionalism in our discipline. The message of "lump it or leave it" is a sad one to pass on to both young software engineers and old. A great deal of good software is developed - and developed professionally. Moreover, the people who develop it are married, sociable, competent and often over 30 years of age.

Only when questioned after his keynote did Yourdon attempt to make any constructive suggestions. Even these I found unsatisfactory. For example, I share Mary Shaw's sentiment about his views on programmer certification. "Indeed we do not certify programmers," she told me. "But, a pre-requisite for certifying programmers is that we have a widely achievable level of practice that deserves to be certified, and some means of predicting whether an individual programmer will achieve it."

It is disappointing to hear that Yourdon's message of "Beyond Software Engineering" is one of doom and gloom.

Bashar Nuseibeh

PS: A valuable piece of advice that I did get from the keynote session yesterday was a comment by Watts Humphrey who emphasized that the start date of a project is the key to its success.