Software has gone from obscurity to indispensability in less than fifty years. Although other industries have followed a similar trajectory, software and its supporting industry are different. In this book the authors explain, from a variety of perspectives, how software and the software industry are different—technologically, organizationally, and socially.
The growing importance of software requires professionals in all fields to deal with both its technical and social aspects; therefore, users and producers of software need a common vocabulary to discuss software issues. In Software Ecosystem, Messerschmitt and Szyperski address the overlapping and related perspectives of technologists and non-technologists. After an introductory chapter on technology, the book is organized around six points of view: users, and what they need software to accomplish for them; software engineers and developers, who translate the user's needs into program code; managers, who must orchestrate the resources, material and human, to operate the software; industrialists, who organize companies to produce and distribute software; policy experts and lawyers, who must resolve conflicts inside and outside the industry without discouraging growth and innovation; and economists, who offer insights into how the software market works. Each chapter considers not only the issues most relevant to that perspective but also relates those issues to the other perspectives as well. Non-technologists will appreciate the context in which technology is discussed; technical professionals will gain more understanding of the social issues that should be considered in order to make software more useful and successful.