The Development Abstraction Layer

This week I read a post of Joel Spolsky, the CEO of Stack Overflow. This post talks about the development abstraction layer that software developers work and are responsible for in a software business. The author started with the story of an experienced software developer who left a big software company to start his own business. He was confident that he could develop and sell software by himself because a lot of software products he worked on for the big company were sold pretty well to many customers. However, after months he could not get order from customer to support his own business and living cost. Finally, he had to come back to work for the previous company. He wondered why he failed with his own business. He was pretty sure that he lacked good marketing for his business. Marketing simply stands for everything in business of creating and selling software that he and many developers don’t understand all about. He was wrong. Software is a conversation, between the software developer and the user. However, that conversation requires a lot of work beyond the function of software development. It takes marketing, yes, but also sales, and public relations, and an office, and a network, and infrastructure, and air conditioning in the office, and customer service, and accounting, and a bunch of other support tasks.

Software developers design and write code, layout screens, debug, integrate, and they check things into the source code control repository. The level that a developer works at is called the development abstract layer, which is too abstract to support a business. The development abstraction layer needs an implementation layer — an organization with many support tasks – that takes their code and turns it into products to customers. The top priority of a software team manager is building the development abstraction layer that all developers only concentrate on and they don’t have to concern about other tasks.

The post gives us an idea of the scope of work that a typical software developer works for. A successful software company should have good support tasks across the board to help developers do their best and turn their works into quality products to customers. Moreover, if we plan to start a software business, we should understand which tasks we need beyond the development abstraction layer to keep our business running well.


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