Know Your Audience

From SwinBrain

It doesn't matter what you are writing (code, reports, etc), you need to know who your audience is!

In the context of software, it helps to identify three different kinds of project:

  • Me Ware
  • Them Ware
  • Us Ware


Me Ware

Me Ware is software you develop for yourself. You hack it together because you have a specific need. If you get around to commenting it, you might put in comments like..

 @author, A java god walking amongst humans.
 //must fix this one day 

Me Ware is not meant to be supported. Sometimes Me Ware escapes out into the wild, but because it's never documented and never comes with help files, you may get asked "How do I do XYZ?" or "What does error #23vW mean?"... to which the answer is "Okay, email your request to support@dev.null".

Me Ware is exclusive of both Us and Them Ware - you should not mix this type of project with others.

Me Ware may include cryptic development notes you write to yourself in your own goofy shorthand and using your own diagram notation that resembles UML only in as much as it involves marks on a page. Scratch marks on scrap paper are perfectly acceptable.

Them Ware

Them Ware is written exclusively for other people. You don't write it for yourself. You have probably been paid to write it. You might feel nothing for the users or the role of the product, but given a set of requirements and a good specification, you can create the product as required.

Them Ware includes documentation and reports you write specifically for other to read.

Us Ware

Us Ware is software which you write for other people, but have a significant interest in, and probably use yourself.

Us Ware is well documented because others work on/with it too, and because you *care* what they think.

Many open source projects are probably Us Ware (or hope to be one day when they grow up).

Credit where credit is due

Editorial comments

When I first started writing this article, I thought it was an original idea born from a conversation I was having with some colleagues. Now, nearly 2 years later, I realise we were articulating ideas already out there. An article by Eric Sink titled Yours, Mine Ours, predates this page by 6 months and puts it better than I can. Sorry Eric, I didn't realise I was stomping on your territory ;)

Incidentally, I discovered Erics article via a blog post on UsWare