Long Software

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Long Software (similar to Long Content) is software that lasts and remain in use a long time.

One of the best examples of this is Unix tooling which has been around since the 70s. While the original code might not still be in use, the fundamentals of the software have remained largely unchanged, the parts that have changed have largely been additions and not fundamental changes in the design (preserving forwards compatibility).

Software that lasts is usually (but not necessarily) good software.

Examples of Long Software

  • git-annex, allows managing files with git, without checking the file contents into git. Has an explicit focus on future proofing
  • Standard Notes, notes app with an “architecture and design that maximize longevity and sustainability”.
  • ActivityWatch, one of my own projects, still in an early stage of development. Could hardly be considered long software in it’s current state but it is an ambition.

Examples of Failed Long Software

  • Everything written in COBOL