paul bennett

Attention software developers! Don’t make assumptions about my internet connection.

Posted on: March 5, 2008

[edited 3 September 2008]

  1. Do you develop software? (software, not web-apps, actual desktop software)
  2. Do you want large corporations to (potentially) use it?
  3. Does your software require an internet connection to activate it or provide some of its functions?
  4. Does your software actually allow a user to configure their proxy settings?

If you answered “yes” to questions 1-4, your software probably won’t be used by a large organisations.

Let me explain:

I work on a cororate network. Well, to be exact, I work using a corporate network to connect to the internet. This network has a proxy server. Said proxy server requires authentication from each application which accesses the internet via port 80 (the default http port). A lot of other ports are just plain blocked (even harmless port 21).
This ensures all internet traffic is authenticated and monitored, and if I use too much bandwidth (curse you,!) I get a nice little tap on the shoulder and I get to hang my head in shame like a chided schoolboy.

If your software assumes an unauthenticated open internet connection it will fail for me.

Basically any application which requires connection to the internet and doesn’t provide a way to configure my proxy server settings will die as horrible death. I even had a case where my company purchased a license key for a piece of software and I couldn’t install the software we’d paid good money for. We contacted the company and they were perplexed – it had never entered their minds.
I ended up needing to contact IT, get the proxy authentication on my account turned off, install the product and then get the proxy auth switched back on. (I guess product updates will fail horribly at some time on the future for that software too…)

The lessons for software manufacturers are:

  1. don’t assume an open connection
  2. provide workarounds

You have been warned.


4 Responses to "Attention software developers! Don’t make assumptions about my internet connection."

who ate question 5?

“…If you answered “yes” to questions 1-4 and then “no” to question 5 …”

but there’s only 1-4 up there 🙂


Thanks Brian – fixed now 🙂


Interesting information, I’ll have to keep that in mind when working with AIR

Hi Matt,

Yep, AIR apps which require an internet connection seem to have mixed success.

Snitter fails for me at work (great app though), but Kuler runs fine – not sure what the difference is.

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