Cover by Joel Spolsky

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fivePAINLESS FUNCTIONAL SPECIFICATIONSPART 1: WHY BOTHER?

MONDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2000

When The Joel Test1 first appeared, one of the biggest sore points readers reported had to do with writing specs. As I've said before, specs are like flossing: Everybody knows they should be writing them, but nobody does.

Why won't people write specs? People claim that it's because they're saving time by skipping the spec-writing phase. They act as if spec writing was a luxury reserved for NASA space shuttle engineers, or people who work for giant, established insurance companies. Balderdash. First of all, failing to write a spec is the single biggest unnecessary risk you take in a software project. It's as stupid as setting off to cross the Mojave desert with ...

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