Business-focused custom software

  • Project success tip: Provide a single point of contact

    Whenever I’ve heard people talk about the importance of a single point of contact for communication between the developer and the “customer”, I’ve thought this was primarily to protect team members from unnecessary emails and meetings. But what I’ve come to realize is how important this is to project health generally, for a couple of reasons:

    Consistent message

    If only one person is giving the programmer feedback, they are less likely to get conflicting messages about how things should work.

    Less communication about the communication

    As a programmer on the outside of an organization, I often can’t tell who will ...

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  • The cynicism of hourly fees for programming

    StopWatch Most programmers who have been around a few years can tell you horror stories about a software project they worked on. The stories are varied, but most of them involve an “unreasonable” customer who kept changing their minds, and the project suffered from lots of rework and frustration, or perhaps didn’t even get finished. (Even I have a story like that.)

    Which is why programmers are often surprised to learn that I don’t charge by the hour. They’ll ask, “Aren’t you worried that the customer will change their mind repeatedly and you’ll lose money?”

    Not really.

    Most customers aren’t ...

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  • How to learn about secret software bugs

    Top_Secret_resized One of the more frustrating aspects of being a programmer is that sometimes users encounter problems you never hear about. It isn’t anyone’s fault – I don’t always notify people when the software I use generates an error either. It takes time and effort, and I often think “they probably already know”. 

    But honestly, we don’t always know about the problems users encounter. Especially on smaller software projects with a limited number of developers and testers, we’re unlikely to test every single scenario. So the problem a user discovers may not be anything we tested for or have seen ourselves.......

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  • Ask the Programmer: Why can’t I “own” my code?

    question mark Ask the programmer is a feature designed to answer questions from non-geeks about hiring and working with programmers. If you have a question, please email me at

    Question: Why doesn’t your custom software contract grant my company ownership rights for the code. I’m paying for the software, shouldn’t I be the owner?

    Answer: To start out, we need to have a common understanding of what is included in custom software. Most custom software is made up of several different things:

    • Controls, components, or libraries written by third parties and purchased by the developer
    • Controls, components, or libraries ...

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  • When more is less (or makes you look stupid)

    Photo from Muffet on Flickr My new thermostat has a myriad of features, including a sensor that will tell me the outside temperature. The thermostat doesn’t use this information – it just reports it, with lots of information about the climate inside my house (temperature, humidity, etc.)

    One problem: the outside sensor is in a spot that gets the full morning sun. This means that this morning, when the temperature was actually 30 degrees, my thermostat said it was 61. I have seen the reported outside temperature be off by more than 40 degrees!

    There really isn’t a good alternative location for the sensor. They ...

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What the critics are saying...

As someone with over 20 years of software development experience and currently a small business owner, it has been a pleasure working with Avonelle. In addition to being a talented developer, Avonelle also has database expertise and system design skills. Avonelle is open minded and willing to discuss various methodologies for achieving a project goal. She is also not afraid to ask questions which is vital in a software development project. Her up-front project cost (not estimate) is very helpful in budgeting for a project.

--Dwayne Wolterstorff, Owner @ Fair