Real Life Recapitulation?

June 19, 2006 at 11:33 pm Leave a comment

In 1866, a German man by the name of Ernst Haeckel developed a theory called "Recapitulation".  He proposed that as it developed, an embryo would pass through forms of its evolutionary ancestors; it would "recap" the development of the species so far.  According to Haeckel, as a human embryo developed, it would phase through the form of a fish, then a lizard, then a chicken, then a monkey before finishing at human.  So each time a new life was conceived, the evolutionary process would supposedly play itself out again in the closed venue of the womb.


Well, as it turns out Haeckel's findings have been long disproven and his credibility shattered!  Recapitulation has no place in modern biology.  But could the concept still be alive and well in programming?

I've been working on writing the QualTrax Document Control Engine in .NET.  It struck me today that my efforts have had some similiarity to QualTrax's past feature progression!  In some cases I started off with the base features– the features that existed way back in 1997 in Version 2.3 and then moved on to finalize the later features.  For example:

  • I started with the basic Document class and then I worked on approval routing.  After basic approval was working, my efforts turned to ensuring Serial Approval (introduced in 2002) was working. 
  • When QualTrax was originally released, HTM was the most popular document format.  Unconsciously, I completed with the HTML Automation and Automatic Link Conversion features before moving on to Word Headers and Footers (introduced in 2003) and then finally to PDF Conversion (introduced in 2004).
  • Once the document lifecycle was working, I tackled the Document Compare Add-On Tool (introduced in 2004) and the Out of Office Manager (introduced in 2004).

Unfortunately, like Haeckel, my findings have some flaws:

  • Yeah…I probably was not following the evolutionary path of QualTrax features.  Be it an embryo or a program, you have to develop the backbone early on– your framework for everything to follow.  In QualTrax's case, the backbone of Document Control just so happened to be included with the core product from the very beginning.
  • I can say I did Serial Approval after regular Parallel Approval– but in fact, the database and backend code were done concurrently.  I just didn't happen to focus on and test serial approval until after I knew the base was working.  😉
  • And the biggest flaw of all!  Before even the Document Control Lifecycle was approached, Folder Specific Settings was fully complete.  Folder Specific Settings post-dates all of the other features I mentioned tonight– it wasn't introduced until June of 2005!  Not only that, but brand new settings (PDF Security Settings) were added- all before the first Document Revision was ever started in the new system.

Well… it was an interesting thought to explore nonetheless! 🙂

Entry filed under: .NET, Document Control, QualTrax.

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