Home > Business, testing > The consequences of a bug fix

The consequences of a bug fix

Take a good look at this guy. What, you didn’t know who he is? Of course: he’s pope Gregory XIII, who created the Gregorian calendar.

Here is some Wikipedia quotes about the calendar:

The Gregorian calendar is the internationally accepted civil calendar.[1][2][3] It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on 24 February 1582, a papal bull known by its opening words Inter gravissimas.[4] The reformed calendar was adopted later that year by a handful of countries, with other countries adopting it over the following centuries. The need for the Gregorian reform stemmed from the fact that the Julian calendar system assumes a length for the mean tropical year of 365 days and 6 hours, when the correct value is 365 days 5 hours 48 minutes and 45 seconds. At the time of its introduction the actual date of the vernal equinox was imperfectly known. At the time of the reform the length of the mean tropical year was also imperfectly known. A 400 – year intercalary cycle was introduced which gives an average length for the calendar year which is 27 seconds too long. In the twentieth century Eastern European governments, on the advice of astronomers, introduced a version with a 900 – year intercalary cycle which gives an average length for the calendar year which is only two seconds too long.[5]

When implementing the calendar, 11 days were removed to get in line with the new calendar.

During Agila Sverige, Albin Rännar from Nordic Investor Services, besides from giving a very interesting speech on the death of the budget, explained some of the problems which evolved from the good pope’s new calendar.

If you just look at the description, it looks like a really good idea to reform the calendar. In other words, fix those bugs in the calendar.

But as Rännar pointed at: what about the short term effects? Let’s say that you had a contract with a contractor and according to this contract, you would deliver on July 14th. And then suddenly, there was no  July 14th. What then? And even if the actual date was not removed, you might loose 11 days during which you could complete the delivery.

Another person (sorry, but I don’t remember exactly who it was who told the story) then told us about another problem they had when they fixed bugs. Sometimes there was a bug which users used in their business and by fixing that bug, a business opportunity disappeared with the release and without any warning.

And this brings us back to the definition of a bug. For the poor contractor, the missing 11 days was a bug and for the customer losing his business opportunity removing that loop hole probably feels like a bug.

Sometimes fixing a bug feels like creating one, even if there are no regressions.

Categories: Business, testing
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