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    I need help in writing a 2-3 page response to Hugh McBride's (of McBride Financial Services) October 12th e-mail message to Smith Systems Consulting.


    From: Hugh McBride
    Sent: Wednesday, October 12, 2005 9:10 AM
    To: Abram LaBelle
    Subject: RE: Programming Languages


    I know we have had some informal discussions regarding the purchase of a complete software package for my firm and that you are working on a formal proposal for me to review.

    However, I have a concern. Yesterday I played a round of golf with a good friend who is the retired CIO of a major mining company in the Northwest. During the round I mentioned that I was waiting for a formal proposal on a software package for my start-up. My friend discussed a number of things that he thought I should be aware of in purchasing an "integrated enterprise information system" - his words, not mine! One thing he was adamant about and said I should also feel the same was - "You had better be sure just what language the application is written in, or it may be a suitable application, but either be non-supportable or very costly to support/change because of the programming language." Truthfully, I think I understand his advice - but I am not sure.

    Therefore, I have some questions before we proceed:

    ? What's the significance of the "programming language" to my business. What are your comments about what he said.
    ? You have mentioned two major contenders/vendors for our software application - I believe you said one was Web based and one was not - I'm guessing that probably means different languages - what does that mean for my business in terms of support, ease of use and maintenance?
    ? What are you going to recommend and why - again with reference to his remarks.

    While I really have come to respect your professional approach to my needs, I do want to be honest with you and let you know I will be very interested in your reply (to include additional information you deem appropriate) and that I will informally discuss with my friend. And as always, I would appreciate your reply and our discussion being in something other than all that tech jargon :>)

    Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you.


    H. McBride
    McBride Financial Services

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    Let's start out by addressing the three bullet points in the question:

    What's the significance of the "programming language" to my business. What are your comments about what he said.

    The first place to start is to read David Welton's article, The Economics of Programming Languages (http://www.dedasys.com/articles/programming_language_economics.html) which I have attached as a .pdf file.

    From Welton (2005):

    "Programming languages, like any product, have certain properties. Obviously, like any other sort of information good, production costs in the sense of making copies are essentially zero. Research and development (sunk costs) are needed to create the software itself, which means that an initial investment is required, and if the language is not successful, chances are the investment can't be recouped."

    "This applies to many information goods, but programming languages also have some qualities that make them special within this grouping. Namely, that they are both a means of directing computers and their peripherals to do useful work, but they are also a means of exchanging ideas and algorithms for doing that ...

    Solution Summary

    Notes from which to construct a 2-3 page response to Hugh McBride's (of McBride Financial Services) e-mail message to Smith Systems Consulting.