How to ensure continuous improvement of tools in use: Disruptive replacement versus evolutionary replacement.
The developers of copyrighted software programs ensure the improvement the first versions constitute the foundations of future versions. For instance, Microsoft (MS) Office 2016 was built on MS office 2013. The features of the latest MS office are more else the same as those of the previous version. But of course the latest version has more features than the previous one. There is there a positive transfer of the knowledge and skills acquired while using the MS Office 2013 during formal and informal education to the usage of MS Office 2016. MS Office 2016 brings in novelty, clarity and sometimes facility. So there is no disconnect between the previous version and the latest version of MS Office.
In the same vein, Martus has improved based on the needs of the users various countries. The community of Martus users had been very happy in how the efforts to simplify its features had yielded fruits until May 2018 when Benetech announced Martus sunset. Martus community is now anxious about what will happen when Martus will be terminated.
Although there are inevitable and well-founded factors that compel the software developers to discontinue the development of the future versions, users are in limbo on how to proceed. They realize that all efforts put in adopting and using a certain software. There is a need to investigate the reasons behind the sunset of a software and devise some strategies on how to ensure the continuity of the software through evolution.
Some human rights documentation programs such as UN Office High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR)- Kampala human rights documentation too are terminated in their infancy by lack of funds and technical expertise for further improvement and continuous technical support whereas other die out because their limited adoption by human rights documenters due to several reasons such their limitations. Other software may be discontinued because they are project-funded and time-bound.
One would wonder why all the efforts are not put together by various actors including human rights organizations, research institutions, UN agencies and academia to produce a standard human rights documentation tool that will be perennial and improved continuous. A pool of financial resources, expertise, human resources and time is key to have such a standard user-friendly tool to be customized according to the needs of different actors and users. The software evolution process should not end of the end of the death of the developer (s) and/or discontinuation of funded and time-bound project (s). But the evolution continue over generations through improvement of versions, hence sustained trust and use.