Judging software quality

I am an astrophotographer by night but a computer scientist by day, so I'm rather picky about software quality. My main concern is that more features are not necessarily better. "Creeping featurism" is the enemy of reliability and ease of use. Choose software on the basis of what it's like to use it, not the length of the feature list.

Good software should cooperate with the operating system. It should not compromise the system's security by requiring you to use administrator mode (root mode in UNIX), nor should it confuse you with non-standard menus, icons, and sounds. (One package annoyed me by making the Windows "error" beep every time it finished a successful computation.) Defaults matter, too; output files should go into your documents folder, not a program folder that you may not even have permission to write in.

It's a good thing when software packages imitate each other's user interfaces; similar things should look alike. A non-standard user interface is justifiable only if it is a work of genius.

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