April 30, 2004
Software subystems are like dragons who guard the entrances to caves containing great treasures. Some dragons are small and efficient and quickly fetch the treasure whenever they are asked. Others are tired sluggish and temperamental and are more likely to burn your head off than fetch you any treasure. When you are faced with one of these beasts, you have to first appease it before you can ask for any treasure. You have to know how to pet it, how to give it offerings that it likes and how to talk sweetly to it. If everything is just right, the dragon will go off and fetch the treasure you want.
These dragons may have started life as quick and efficient dragons and only after years of growth became old and stubborn. Sometimes they started life stubborn and only got worse. If you don't spend enough time training your dragon to be nice in its youth, it often takes an enormous amount of time and effort to train it once it's become old and stubborn. For some reason, all the worst dragons seem to have been trained by someone else.
It's frustrating dealing with a stubborn dragon. It slows you down and makes life difficult for you. You have several choices when you have a stubborn dragon.
You can continue to appease it and still get your work done. Many times, this is the easiest way to continue even though it's frustrating.
You can try to train the dragon. Training old stubborn dragons is hard work and you are likely to get burned several times while trying it. If you succeed, the dragon is much easier to deal with. If you fail, you've wasted a lot of time end effort and may have made matters worse.
Your other option is to slay the dragon and replace it with a better one. Slaying dragons is not a job for the faint of heart. You may need a highly trained knight to do it. (I happen to know a highly trained Knight:-) ). When dragons are big, they are usually big for a reason. You need to fully understand why the dragon is so big before you can slay it. It takes lots of time and effort to do and it's hard to be certain that the new dragon you put in its place will be any better than the old one.
In the end, it's better to avoid creating stubborn dragons in the first place and to slay them early if they start to turn bad. Young dragons are easier to slay than old ones. You may even slay several dragons before you are happy that you have one you can live with.