The comic tragedy of publishing to the Windows Marketplace:

From time to time the tale gets so surreal and horrible I sometimes wish Franz Kafka were alive to describe it instead of me.

Joe Belfoire, a VP at Microsoft, posted a response and apology to the team in their comments section:

Your blog post is making the rounds of our team because we’re sensitive to the pain you went through and we want to learn and do better.

Lest anyone be confused, app stores, with all their warts, are how we’re going to get software from now on. This process, these hoops, this ridiculousness; this is the future of software distribution.

As a software developer I’ve come to accept that there now exists a gatekeeper between me and the marketplace; accepted that there is some one standing astride the road, checking my credentials, inspecting my cargo, and yes, taking a bribe for letting me through.

The benefits of this gatekeeper are debatable, though numerous.

The draw backs are bewildering; places where, as a software developer, one may feel like they are banging their heads against brick walls, shouting into silence. Inane policies, dense guidelines, slow responses, baffling restrictions, and a general sense that, you, in the singular, don’t matter much.

The worst of these grievances often come from a rather mundane source; the subjectivity of another human being.

Stores are developed under assumptions. The platforms constructed along what is perceived to be the most common use case, or at least, the use case the platform prefers. Anything abnormal, anything unexpected, even when completely logical, is often impossible. A human who isn’t you didn’t anticipate what you’re trying to do.

Guidelines are written in broad language; fungible bits of text which can be read loosely or literally. It is expected that a human will interpret the guidelines, not a machine. A human is expected to render a judgement based on their best guess at what the framer’s meant.

This is a brave new world for everyone involved.

When reading stories like Toshl’s, or when experiencing my own personal head-pounding crisis with reviews, I try to keep that in mind. That the process is inherently fragile. That each mistake, or issue, is not necessarily the fault of the system as a whole. That the idea itself, or the intent of the idea, is not the convict in the crime. The mistakes are more oversights than some grand scheme to ruin my life, or the life of another developer.

There’s some guy or gal somewhere just trying to do their job; trying not to get fired for doing the wrong thing, for letting the wrong application through the process. Some developer trying to build something that works.

Responses like the one from Belfoire are pitch perfect.

“We’re learning. We’re sorry. We’ll get better.”

So far, they always have.