Software Complexity Is Killing Us

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We get enthralled by the maelstrom of complexity and the mental puzzle of engineering elegant solutions: Another layer of abstraction! DRY it up! Separate the concerns! Composition over inheritance! This too is understandable, but in the process, we often lose sight of the business problems being solved and forget that managing complexity is the second most important responsibility of software developers.

Looking forward to the future, it is unlikely that language design will give us the same kinds of improvements we have seen over the last few decades.

We, as an industry, need to find ways to simplify the process of building software, without ignoring the legitimate complexities of businesses. We need to admit that not every application out there needs the same level of interface sophistication and operational scalability as Gmail.

Our answer to the growing complexity of doing business cannot be adding complexity to the development process – no matter how elegant it may seem.

We must find ways to manage complexity by simplifying the development process. Because even though managing complexity is our second most important responsibility, we must always remember the most important responsibility of software developers: delivering value through working software.

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