Goldenseal Pro- Completion Estimate (Jul 27)

I recently came across an article explaining why it’s hard to estimate programming projects. Still, our users want to know when our Pro update will be finished, and we do too. It’s worth a try, even if the effort is guaranteed to be flawed.

March was the last time we estimated a completion date for Goldenseal Pro, and that predicted mid-October. We just updated the data. The revised spreadsheet also calculates mid-October, but only for the Mac version of our new accounting software. It adds another 2.5 months to finish the Windows version.

It’s still very much a guesstimate. The work in our code is going about as expected. However, occasionally the Cocoa framework throws a curve ball. When that happens, it can take a few extra days or weeks, to finish something trivial. If there are a lot more curve balls, the work could easily drag on a few months longer. It’s an unknown unknown. We really won’t know what we don’t know until it’s over.

Some of the prep work for the Mac version will probably make the Windows update go faster. It’s even possible that Windows part of the estimate is too conservative. But the MFC framework does throw a few curve balls of its own. Those are the main uncertainty.  However, on the whole it is just less complicated to program for Windows. It definitely will take less time than the Mac.  Working with the Cocoa framework is difficult.

Apple has a Cocoa listserv, mostly viewed by developers building software for Mac and iPhone. We have posted a few questions there when stumped. Usually, the other programmers are stumped also. The list does not get much traffic. Likewise, Stack Overflow and other programmer exchanges have few recent posts for Macintosh Cocoa. Nearly all recent questions are for Swift and iOS.

Apple is ending support for Carbon and 32-bit apps in 2019. You would think there would be more developers in our position: rewriting and updating existing Carbon apps to use Cocoa. On the other hand, there were many Mac programs that did not survive the transition to OS X. Moving to Cocoa is even harder, so many developers may have decided to retire. In all honesty, if we had known 3 years ago how difficult Cocoa was, we’d have thrown in the towel then, also. But, our staff is now close enough to completion that it would be absurd not to finish.

I did remodeling work for an accounting professor who had a clever explanation for why people under-estimate projects. Essentially, one big difference between humans and other mammals is that we look further ahead. Building a house or a dam might take 10 years to break even, and no other species would make that gamble. Beavers and apes do a bit of long-range planning, but only on a span of months.

Human brains could have developed stronger foresight, but evolution is random. It uses the first thing that works, even if inferior. So, maybe humans brains just adjusted by under-estimating the cost of big projects, and over-estimating the rewards. Delusion has the same result as wisdom.

Anyhow, Goldenseal Pro looks much better than the current version. It will be good in the long run. It’s good that we were deluded.

Dennis Kolva
Programming Director




Author: Dennis Kolva

Programming Director for Turtle Creek Software. Design & planning of accounting and estimating software.