A workaround is a bypass of a recognized problem or limitation in a system or policy. A workaround is typically a temporary fix that implies that a genuine solution to the problem is needed. But workarounds are frequently as creative as true solutions, involving outside the box thinking in their creation.
Typically they are considered brittle in that they will not respond well to further pressure from a system beyond the original design. In implementing a workaround it is important to flag the change so as to later implement a proper solution.
Placing pressure on a workaround may result in later system failures. For example, in computer programming workarounds are often used to address a problem or anti-pattern in a library, such as an incorrect return value. When the library is changed, the workaround may break the overall program functionality, effectively becoming an anti-pattern, since it may expect the older, wrong behaviour from the library.
Workarounds can also be a useful source of ideas for improvement of products or services.
When the legal system places an obstacle in the form of a restriction or requirement, the law may provide a possible workaround. Laws intended to tap into what may seem to be deep pockets may lead to what are at least temporary solutions such as:
- Since "most French workplace laws affect businesses with 50 or more employees... many French companies opt to employ only 49 people in avoidance of crippling legislations."
- An injunction against Microsoft regarding XML features and an easy technical workaround, a patent attorney suggested having two versions of MS Word, one with and one without the feature.
Some well-known acronyms were created to work around bureaucratic or contracting restrictions:
- PDP - The term was used to describe a computer by another name, due to contracting complications for purchasing or leasing computers. The term PDP (Programmed Data Processor or Programmable Data Processor) was a workaround. The name "PDP" intentionally avoids the use of the term "computer". PDPs were aimed at a market that could not afford larger computers.
- GNU - GNU's Not UNIX. As AT&T's prices for academic licensing and use of UNIX increased, new restrictions on maximum number of concurrent users and limitations on types of use created a motivation for an alternative: a work-alike workaround. Among the better known ones are:
- PSAP. By contrast with hearing aids, the sale of which is more regulated and more expensive, a Personal Sound Amplification Product (PSAP) is lower in price albeit more limited in capability.
- "Workaround/Bypass on 3900 length limit on formula field".
- Arif Wibisono, Ibrahim Alhassan, David Sammon, Ciara Heavin, Gaye Kiely, Erma Suryani (2019). "Understanding Theory of Workarounds in Practice". Procedia Computer Science. 161 (3): 187–194. doi:10.1016/j.procs.2019.11.114.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
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- Mel Gray; John Coates; Michael Yellow Bird (2008). ndigenous Social Work Around the World: Towards Culturally Relevant. ISBN 978-0754648383.
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- "'Easy workaround' could solve Microsoft Word's legal woes, says expert". reuters.com. August 14, 2009.
- "VAS Demonstration" (PDF). nasa.gov.
- "New Market Disruption: The DEC Programmable Data Processor". harvard.edu.
- R Belcher (2013). Computers in Analytical Chemistry. p. 153. ISBN 978-1483285627. "The term PDP is an acronym for Programmable Data Processor ... the series was introduced by their manufacturer, Digital Equipment orporation ..."
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- "Old licenses and prices".
- restricting " universities that wanted to use the system for their internal business (e.g. student registration) as distinct from teaching and research
- Since a licensed audiologist is required
- Neil DiSarno. "Pros and Cons of Inexpensive Hearing Aids Called PSAPs". Wall Street Journal (wsj.com).
- Kochkin, Sergei, Ph.D. "MarkeTrak VIII: Utilization of PSAPs and Direct-Mail Hearing Aids by People with Hearing Impairment" (PDF).CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)