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Last post Author Topic: The definition of "bloat" - RE: Software  (Read 10176 times)

Josh

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The definition of "bloat" - RE: Software
« on: February 07, 2008, 11:37:48 AM »
This is a topic which has confused me for some time for many many applications. Everywhere I look, be it software discussion sites, review sites, forums, etc. I see people making mention of "X Used to be light, now its bloatware". WHAT EXACTLY IS BLOATWARE? From most of the reviews I read, I see people whining that because X feature was added that THEY DONT FEEL is valuable, means that a program is suddenly bloatware. Are there certain features in certain categories which immediately classify programs as bloatware? Not to single anyone out, but when I read most of zridling's reviews on various sites he is registered, I will see him make nothing but glowing comments on an app, then 2 releases later it is moved into the bloatware category according to reviews he's posted. Zaine, if you are reading this, can you post? One of your latest reviews I read is what sparked my finally posting this topic, and I would like yours and everyone elses input on this matter.

Ampa

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Re: The definition of "bloat" - RE: Software
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2008, 11:59:43 AM »
IMHO an application becomes bloated when it starts to do things outside the realm for which it was created.

The most obvious example to my mind is Nero, which used to be a lean mean CD burner but now contains things such as a wav editor, CD inlay designer, media player etc etc etc. The download is 183MB and the install footprint will be many times that.

But what do I actually want from my burning software? The ability to easily drag files onto a CD and burn it.

If I want to play my MP3s I'll use XMPlay, or my videos: KMPlayer, WAV editing: Audacity etc etc.

Why would I use 3 or 4 apps where Nero has it all? Because they are each specialists at what they do, so the results are better. Plus the combined download of the collection...

BurnAware4.4MB
XMPlay305KB
KMPlayer9.6MB
Audacity2.9MB
TOTAL~17MB

PLUS: They are all free Vs €59.99
« Last Edit: February 07, 2008, 12:37:38 PM by Ampa »

Lashiec

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Re: The definition of "bloat" - RE: Software
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2008, 12:22:19 PM »
Exactly. Ampa explains it perfectly. And it chooses THE example of a bloated app, Nero ;D

Other example: iTunes. The review that app linked some days ago explains why.

Mark0

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Re: The definition of "bloat" - RE: Software
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2008, 12:43:51 PM »

Lashiec

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Re: The definition of "bloat" - RE: Software
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2008, 12:50:32 PM »
LOL

justice

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Re: The definition of "bloat" - RE: Software
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2008, 03:20:00 PM »
IMHO an application becomes bloated when it starts to do things outside the realm for which it was created.
I'd like to add to that. As this is a subjective quality, one could say Nero is now an all round removable media manager as opposed to a burning application.

So my definition would be as follows:
Quote
an application becomes bloated when it incorporates functionality outside the realm for which it was created and this functionality impacts on the responsiveness and / or footprint of the application .

Which for Nero is still the case. But software evolves through user needs. It's rather like cars: each successive VW Golf added more options and upgrades until there was a need for a new value model, to which more features are added over time to seduce users to keep spending cash etc. That's how Photoshop elements was born I guess. That's how there is an increasing need for Firefox Elements :P, Windows Elements..
« Last Edit: February 07, 2008, 03:22:07 PM by justice »

iphigenie

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Re: The definition of "bloat" - RE: Software
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2008, 05:16:47 PM »
To me bloat is not just about responsiveness and footprint (i never worry about footprint much within reason), it is about confusion/clutter in the interface and operation of the tool.

i.e. the tool has features I couldnt care less about and they get in the way

app103

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Re: The definition of "bloat" - RE: Software
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2008, 06:21:39 PM »
To understand bloat, one must look at a classic in bloatware:

AOL's traditional dialup software.

It's a browser, chat client, instant messenger, email, ftp, photo album, radio, media player, etc, etc, etc.

It wants to be every application you will ever want to use for any and all purposes.

And they created an artificial need for this software to exist, by using a nonstandard way to connect to the internet that required the use of a software utility, rather than doing it the normal way with what is already built into a user's OS.

Josh

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Re: The definition of "bloat" - RE: Software
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2008, 06:33:01 PM »
App: You just described the opera "web browser". A more appropriate term would be suite, but they dont have that title. I dont know any other browsers which have an email, torrent, or chat client built in. Heck, even mozilla realized this and shutdown the mozilla project.

Target

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Re: The definition of "bloat" - RE: Software
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2008, 07:02:03 PM »
for me there are a couple of instances where an app could (would) be classed as bloatware -

  • an app is significantly larger (both download and/or install size) than a comparable app and either
    • doesn't provide any significant performance benefits, or
    • doesn't provide any extra features or functions, or provides lots, most of which are of little value (to me)
  • provides heaps of features and functionality, but little in the way of value add when compared to compared to similar tools

Target

f0dder

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Re: The definition of "bloat" - RE: Software
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2008, 07:14:18 PM »
Nero is the prime bloatware example for me, too. 5.5 was ~12 megabytes, 6.3 was ~28 megabytes but still in the realm of usable (I think that's when they added the cover designer? Never used that, though). I used to love Nero because it was good at burning CDs.

Then I bumped into a mysterious error, it looked like Nero (on purpose?) burned bad copies. Not coaster level bad, mind you, it just meant that read speed would suck with those media. Upgraded to latest nero version as well. I might've been using a pirate keygen (even though I had valid OEM licenses for my drives), so it could be an anti-piracy thing.

Shortly after that, teh über-bloated 100+ megabyte versions of Nero hit the scene, and I completely ditched the app. It had gone from a nice "does it's stuff well" app to a bloated "want to do everything". Fortunately, imgburn exists, and is now my "does it's stuff (very) well" app.

Sometimes bloat is about disk size and/or resource consumption, sometimes it's about packing too many things into product, So ein Ding müssen wir auch haben style. I dunno if I would classify Opera as bloat, but I do prefer my browser not to come with e-mail and torrent support in one package.

PowerBASIC - #BLOAT metastatement
DOH!  ;D
PowerBASIC is just plain lame allround :)
- carpe noctem

Josh

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Re: The definition of "bloat" - RE: Software
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2008, 07:15:41 PM »
So, is Nero itself a bloated application or is the nero SUITE bloated? I would like to see a burner only option too, but I dont consider nero ON ITS OWN to be bloated. Quite the contrary. Yes, I have to download ~200mb of data, but I only install about 20-30.

f0dder

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Re: The definition of "bloat" - RE: Software
« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2008, 07:35:57 PM »
So, is Nero itself a bloated application or is the nero SUITE bloated? I would like to see a burner only option too, but I dont consider nero ON ITS OWN to be bloated. Quite the contrary. Yes, I have to download ~200mb of data, but I only install about 20-30.

The suite definitely is, when you're only interested in the burner. Downloading 200 megabytes isn't a problem on a 20mbit ADSL line, but it certainly a different experience on 512kbit. Haven't used Nero for a while, so I dunno if it really is 20 megs for just the burner, but that's also too much... imgburn is less than 1.5meg :)

But okay, there's a few things imgburn lacks that could be useful (but that I haven't used myself for ages) - one that springs to mind is being able to add .mp3/whatever files and burning an audio CD from that. But iirc DeepBurner free supports that, at less than 3meg download.
- carpe noctem
« Last Edit: February 07, 2008, 07:37:48 PM by f0dder »

Josh

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Re: The definition of "bloat" - RE: Software
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2008, 08:18:08 PM »
OK, let me ask this, why should apps be as small as that in size in the modern age? Is hard drive space that expensive or lacking? I mean, I have over a TB in my pc, and most modern pc's have 500-750 standard now. I mean, what is another 17MB going to add if it gives you so much more functionality-wise?

f0dder

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Re: The definition of "bloat" - RE: Software
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2008, 08:24:56 PM »
Call it professional pride. Probably the most important reason. I just don't believe in needlessly wasting disk space, memory, et cetera. And download size matters too, not everybody is on blazingly fast broadband. Then there's also the issue of stuffing things on USB pendrives (yes, those are growing too, but even a 1- or 2-gig stick can only hold so much).

Then there's also the issue that even if harddrives are very large and cheap, not everybody wants a super big system partition. My drives are punily small, 2x74 gigabytes - but 10k rpm disks. People running solid-state disks would have even smaller.

Oh, and I like how fast imgburn boots up. Even with my fast raptor drives, I'm still sensitive to application boot time :)
- carpe noctem

Target

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Re: The definition of "bloat" - RE: Software
« Reply #15 on: February 07, 2008, 08:28:32 PM »
So, is Nero itself a bloated application or is the nero SUITE bloated? I would like to see a burner only option too, but I dont consider nero ON ITS OWN to be bloated. Quite the contrary. Yes, I have to download ~200mb of data, but I only install about 20-30.

this is bloat, ie Nero install 20-30M, ImgBurn 1M (burnaware Free ed - 3m, Burn At Once (an old fave) - 6M, small CD writer - 330K!!).  Granted ImgBurn only writes images, but there are plenty of alternatives

I suspect that with a bit of hunting around you could get pretty much all the functionality from several apps that you get in the Nero suite with a total install size comparable with the burner (20-30M)

Any why would anyone (regardless of their available bandwidth) want to D/L a 200M installer to get a 30M app??

Target
(not a Nero fan...)

f0dder

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Re: The definition of "bloat" - RE: Software
« Reply #16 on: February 07, 2008, 08:33:53 PM »
Granted ImgBurn only writes images, but there are plenty of alternatives

It can also create images (and can write directly to CD, without first creating a .iso then using that). It's also capable of burning/fxing-up VIDEO_TS folder so it works on standalone DVD players... and a few more things. It's not quite as fully featured as "regular" burning apps, but it works for almost all my burning needs - I don't even have DeepBurner or anything else installed at the moment :)
- carpe noctem

Target

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Re: The definition of "bloat" - RE: Software
« Reply #17 on: February 07, 2008, 08:45:49 PM »
yup, and it's portable too :Thmbsup: but I was thinking of the bit about writing audio CD's...

Target

nosh

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Re: The definition of "bloat" - RE: Software
« Reply #18 on: February 07, 2008, 11:21:58 PM »
Disenchanted Nero fans should look at (the unofficial) Nero Lite & Micro, weighing in at 35 & 13 MB respectively (these figures may be for slightly older versions.) I personally prefer a burner that lets me directly create standalone encrypted media - something like Power2Go, though the CD Lock end result is a lot more transparent/user-friendly.

Bloat, IMO, isn't necessarily defined by an application that starts doing something out of its essential realm, as long as it does all those things well - one man's bloat is after all another man's TC. It can simply be something that sticks to task and is overly self-indulgent.

~The House of Bloat~ (I cannot stress how NOT Safe For Work this is!)
http://tinyurl.com/2rjx2p

« Last Edit: February 07, 2008, 11:28:29 PM by nosh »

Renegade

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Re: The definition of "bloat" - RE: Software
« Reply #19 on: February 08, 2008, 03:08:33 AM »
PowerBASIC - #BLOAT metastatement

DOH!  ;D

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha~! :D :D :D :D

That was SOOOOOOOOOOOOO funny! And so true!

Ok - starting from scratch...

WHERE DOES BLOAT COME FROM?

1) Refusal to give up support for old operating systems/software/hardware
2) Marketing department pushing for new features because the competition has them
3) Speed to market pressures and choice of development tools

Those are the 2 biggest that I can think of.

Why is application X so much larger? #1 (Windows 98)

Why does Nero have an audio editor and all that stuff? #2 (e.g. Blaze Audio, Windows Media Player, etc.)

Why do all of my applications require a minimum disk footprint of 24MB? #3 (.NET is about 23MB or so)   (.NET Rocks!)

Often the best thing to do is to just abandon old things and move forward, or to spin off new functionality as a new product or add-in.

However, at the end of the day, software is NOT technology driven... It's market driven. Each of the 3 things above is a consequence or direct result of market pressures on developers to fill needs. You need to keep your costs down, so often it's just easier to build in new things into an existing application. Launching a new product can be very dangerous. etc. etc. etc.

Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

f0dder

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Re: The definition of "bloat" - RE: Software
« Reply #20 on: February 08, 2008, 06:32:40 AM »
Disenchanted Nero fans should look at (the unofficial) Nero Lite & Micro, weighing in at 35 & 13 MB respectively (these figures may be for slightly older versions.) I personally prefer a burner that lets me directly create standalone encrypted media - something like Power2Go, though the CD Lock end result is a lot more transparent/user-friendly.

Hm, that requires software on the user end, doesn't it? And is it 100% openly documented how the stuff is encrypted, so you can restore the data in the future, without that app?
- carpe noctem

justice

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Re: The definition of "bloat" - RE: Software
« Reply #21 on: February 08, 2008, 07:55:25 AM »
App: You just described the opera "web browser". A more appropriate term would be suite, but they dont have that title. I dont know any other browsers which have an email, torrent, or chat client built in. Heck, even mozilla realized this and shutdown the mozilla project.
actually it's still developed: http://Seamonkey is the all-in-one application formerly known as the "Mozilla Application Suite", containing a web browser, a mail and newsgroups client, an HTML editor, web development tools, and an IRC chat client in a single software package.

nosh

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Re: The definition of "bloat" - RE: Software
« Reply #22 on: February 08, 2008, 08:07:33 AM »
Nope - both Power2Go & CD Lock create standalone media - no need for decryption software at the user end, they popup a password prompt once you insert the media. I'm not sure about them being openly documented though, my guess is no. The advantage with CD lock is once you enter the password the media is mounted and can be accessed normally by all apps, Power2Go opens up its own window with a protected files list that you can copy or (I think) run from within the window.

app103

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Re: The definition of "bloat" - RE: Software
« Reply #23 on: February 08, 2008, 08:15:50 AM »
App: You just described the opera "web browser". A more appropriate term would be suite, but they dont have that title. I dont know any other browsers which have an email, torrent, or chat client built in. Heck, even mozilla realized this and shutdown the mozilla project.

All they have left to add is a multi-protocol instant messaging client.

I think only someone very familiar with both AOL & Opera will find this amusing:

aol-style-opera.jpgThe definition of "bloat" - RE: Software

f0dder

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Re: The definition of "bloat" - RE: Software
« Reply #24 on: February 08, 2008, 08:20:39 AM »
Nope - both Power2Go & CD Lock create standalone media - no need for decryption software at the user end, they popup a password prompt once you insert the media. I'm not sure about them being openly documented though, my guess is no. The advantage with CD lock is once you enter the password the media is mounted and can be accessed normally by all apps, Power2Go opens up its own window with a protected files list that you can copy or (I think) run from within the window.
Hm, I wonder how that works, then - and how well it works (including encryption strength). I wouldn't trust such a solution for archival types of backup... especially not without any documentation.
- carpe noctem