Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Family Tree Software That Discriminates

At Nick Ferrell writes

There are moments when you wonder if the world has gone raving mad. A software developer who writes family tree software in C++ and Qt has been asked to fix a bug in his code by a customer.

Nothing wrong with this, customers contact software developers all the time and they are usually happy to make sure their software does what it says on the tin.

But according to this customer, his family tree software cannot cope with the fact that he had two children with his daughter.

The software should allow for this. It isn’t so rare that is is unheard of.

The developer has admitted the errors are his fault because of the assertions and invariants about the family graph being processed. The program states that X can't be both father and grandfather of a child.

The developer has gone online to ask if there is a way to resolve those errors without removing all data assertions and having to do some major surgery to his software.

That, according to Ferrell, got some hateful responses.

Family trees software though should be able to include incest as historically this did happen, but as one developer pointed out, if it has problems with being both the father and the grandfather cycles in a family tree it will also have trouble because cousins are allowed to marry in Western countries and this should also cause the software to cough.

Family tree software should not assume nonconsanguineous, heterosexual, monogamy. It should allow for reality. And the reality is, there are lots of different family structures and relationships.
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