Explaining Software Development Methods By Flying To Mars [comic]

Elon Musk started out as a software engineer, and now he wants to go to Mars. Don’t be on the first ship.

Software development methods explained by flying to Mars

Truth be told, there’s no wrong way to manage a big software project (except “moving fast and breaking things” – that one has not aged well). Waterfall may seem rigid and old school, but it’s really just another way of saying “plan ahead”. Agile methods are great for flexibility, as long as someone tells the client when to stop giving feedback.


This comic was commissioned by Toggl. We fund our comics by making a great, simple to use time-tracking app.

The Wirecutter called Toggl “the best time-tracking application for freelancers,” and Allison from Twitter called us “the real MVP.” Dave on Reddit only thinks we’re fine. But that’s ok! We think he’ll come around. Toggl is totally free for solo users and small teams to signup and use, so why not start tracking and see how much time all those rewrites are taking you. That is, if you really want to know.

By On October 3, 2019

  1. XSCALE: You want to go to Mars. You figure out that asteroids are worth quintillions of dollars. You mine asteroids instead. Soon enough you have millions of rotating habitats as homes for trade, science and artistic relationships for the mutual benefit of trillions of people.

    They want to go to Mars. But they figure out that Venus, which has a magnetosphere and Earth-normal gravity, pressure and temperature at 50km above the surface, is worth vastly more. Soon enough you have another trillion people living in cloud cities that float at that height for no more reason than they’re full of Earth-normal atmosphere.

    And they want to go to Mars. But by now they can engineer bodies that can live very happily inside gas giants like Jupiter, Saturn and the smaller ones. These places can host ecosystems with quadrillions of sentient trans-human beings.

    And that kind of development continues until, shortly after we reach Kardashev 2, we notice there’s this one miserable deserted rock left uninhabited in the entire solar system. And that’s Mars. Because, if you know anything about Mars, you know that no one in their right mind will ever want to go there. So they dismantle it for spare parts.

  2. Pretty funny. Analogies and ways of working are all wrong, but still funny. If you want to make it even for all types. Waterfall should be. “You want to go to the moon”. “Year later you’ve built and test a rocket for the moon” “Now you want to go to Mars, but not enough fuel”.

  3. The artist doesn’t seem to understand how agile methodologies are supposed to work. Prolly has only ever been on teams executing fake agile.