With the release of the first two betas of Netscape Communicator for OS/2, I've
become aware of a side of the OS/2 community that I never knew existed (or refused
to believe existed).
IBM finally comes through on its promise of bringing Communicator to OS/2 and
to put the icing on the cake, two members of the IBM team working on the project
(Mike Kaply and Jeff Kobal) actually begin participating in the OS/2 news groups
giving us at least an inkling that there is someone at Big Blue actually listening
to the lowly home users. But are these Communicator/2 programmers met with enthusiastic
bug reports and "thank you"s? No. Instead, they are slapped with vicious
posts about the buggy nature of the beta (yes, software defects in a BETA
of all things), unwanted features added since 2.02, lack of full WPS integration,
and threats of "dropping" Communicator/2 in favor of NS/2 2.02. It seems
that for many OS/2 users (at least those vociferous in the news groups) nothing
is good enough. Granted, NS/2 2.02 wasn't the best piece of software written, and
Communicator for OS/2 is obviously not flawless, but then again what software is?
By no means am I trying to defend poorly written software. I realize that many
times in the past OS/2 has been the victim of quick and dirty ports of software
(Sim City 2000 comes to mind) which didn't deserve to have ever come out of beta.
It's ports like these that OS/2 users don't buy and which confirm company's suspicions
that OS/2 versions of their software won't sell (when in fact any software on any
platform written as poorly as their OS/2 versions wouldn't sell). But back to Communicator
Have we forgotten what "beta" means? Beta software is expected to have
bugs which is why IBM released the Comm/2 betas publicly: to find the glitches.
Threats of not using the software and flames directed at the development team are
no way to help make a solid final product.
Many of these complaints do not concern actual problems with the performance
of Comm/2 but its lack of WPS integration. This is where I think OS/2 users are
placing a little too much pressure on the development team. Sure, WPS integration
is excellent and one of the many reasons we use OS/2 but with the many and varying
ports of Communicator on several different platforms, integration with each and
every OS to which the suite is ported is just not feasible. The attention that OS/2
got with NS/2 2.02 and is now getting with Comm/2 in terms of OS integration is
well beyond the call of duty and should be appreciated by the OS/2 community. Several
vicious attacks on this subject have been directed at Mike Kaply and Jeff Kobal.
Disrespectful and personal attacks against the team bringing us a cutting-edge browser
and suite is not the way to perfect the software.
Constructive criticism and defect reporting is what is necessary and expected
of beta testers. Can't handle it? Too buggy for you? Don't test the software, wait
for the production version. Useless complaining and badgering of the Comm/2 programmers
not only takes time away from development, during which they are responding to posts
dealing with issues that the porting team has no control over, but it also hurts
our (read: the home user's) relationship with one of our only active links to IBM.
I am by no means asking the OS/2 community to be content with buggy, poorly written
software. What I am asking for is a little respect for those working on our
"side" who take time out of their busy day (even time at home) to keep
us informed and who have been forced to post such comments as this one from Jeff
My "agenda" is to provide the best OS/2 product I possibly can, as it has been in each of the various projects on which I've worked at IBM. I felt that responding to certain questions/concerns/suggestions/reports in this newsgroup would help me towards that end, and that certain responses I've received have been a hindrance. Instead of just ignoring it, I tried to politely explain the reasons behind certain decisions being made, and that has snowballed into what you see here now.