Every week seems to bring Visual Basic developers more powerful but also more complex language features, custom controls, APIs, tools, and operating systems. While Visual Basic 5 finally brought us a "grown-up" language with real enterprise pretensions, Visual Basic 6 arrives only a year later, along with a whole new raft of acronyms and concepts. The phrase "technological downpour," coined by a Microsoft executive, strikes a chord with both developers and their managers. In the midst of all this technological chaos, the deadlines become tougher and our tools often refuse to cooperate with one another. If whatever we build lasts at least until we've finished building it, we consider it an unexpected bonus. Yet we are expected to sculpt stable Microsoft Visual Basic code that gives our users more flexible, less costly, and easier-to-use systems.
From this chapter's point of view, the key word is "stable." It's no use being able to churn out ever larger and more capable systems with these new, improved, wash-whiter-than-white tools if all that we succeed in doing is producing more defects. Developers tend to take a casual attitude toward bugs. They know them intimately, including their origin and even their species. A typical programmer looks at bugs in the same manner as an Amazonian tribe member looks at the insect-infested jungle-as an inevitable fact of life. The typical user is more like a tourist from the big city stranded in the same jungle. Surrounded by hordes of disgustingly hairy creepy-crawlies with too many legs and a nasty habit of appearing in the most unexpected places, the user often becomes upset-which is hardly surprising. This different perspective is one that software developers need to consider if they expect to meet user expectations.