Monday, October 31, 2005 [Tweets] [Favorites]

The Ninety-Nine-Per-Cent Solution

Dave Nanian talks about his design philosophy for SuperDuper!:

The advantages to this kind of approach are many, not the least of which is that a non-technical user can easily understand what’s going on. It’s incredible how many people are confused by conventional backup terminology—“incremental”, “differential”, backups “sets” and the like. And, complicated storage mechanisms require a significant amount of expertise to perform a full recovery in the event of that all-too-common disaster: the total drive failure. (Look, for example, at what you have to do with Retrospect or Backup 3 should you lose your boot drive (very common)—where the vast majority of people also store their “Backup Catalog”. Yes, it can be done. Even if the program works properly, it can take days to recover.)

In most cases, it’s probably not desirable (or necessarily possible) to build a 100% solution. There are always trade-offs. The best you can do is build a coherent product that solves a subset of the problem really well. Make some customers very happy, and be up-front with others that you’re not addressing their needs. Products are defined by what they do as well as what they don’t do. Maybe it’s not an effective marketing strategy, but as a customer I find that knowing the latter often makes it easier to understand a product and decide whether it’s right for me.

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