December 14, 2017

Simplicity Before Generality, Use Before Reuse

A common problem in component frameworks, class libraries, foundation services, and other infrastructure code is that many are designed to be general purpose without reference to concrete applications. This leads to a dizzying array of options and possibilities that are often unused or misused — or just not useful.

Generally, developers work on specific systems; specifically, the quest for unbounded generality rarely serves them well (if at all). The best route to generality is through understanding known, specific examples, focusing on their essence to find an essential common solution. Simplicity through experience rather than generality through guesswork.

Favouring simplicity before generality acts as a tiebreaker between otherwise equally viable design alternatives. When there are two possible solutions, favour the one that is simpler and based on concrete need rather than the more intricate one that boasts of generality. 


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