Friday, October 08, 2010

Feature Creep

Why do software companies do this? I find a utility I like, it does exactly what I want it to do, does it well, quickly, and with minimal fuss. Then the writers add a feature. I don't need it, so I don't use it, so I don't think about it much. Then they add another, and another, and eventually the simple utility is a huge kludge - and now is slowing down my system and interfering in my use of it.

Case in point : McAfee SiteAdvisor. This used to be a small, simple utility that sat on the bottom bar of FireFox or IE and turned green, yellow, or red depending on the safety level of the site you were on. It would warn you about malicious sites. It also had a feature to highlight search results to let you know if they were safe or not. This was perfect, this worked well.

Now they have added several more features - including one that highlights items, puts a green circle with a checkmark at the end of them, and not only in search results - in google reader and on the igoogle homepage as well. This tends to screw up the display of the homepage as the extra green circle gets duplicated for some reason, making each item take two lines.

I wish they would have created a second utility for those that wanted it, instead of mutating a perfect utility into a bloated mess.