Simple Brilliance

Albert Einstein once said, Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler*.

This is not a concept that is limited to physics.  This is the mantra of a good software developer.

Working in business applications software development probably sounds very dull to most people.  The compsci student, fresh from four years of relative freedom, may find it restrictive and irrelevant. 

Sometimes this impression becomes apparent in the finished product.  A friend of mine works for a large corporation which recently converted to a new applications system, and her workload has increased dramatically because it does not provide support for her job function; this morning, I attempted to provide her some assistance in developing suitable workarounds, so that she will be able to stop fighting the system and have a life outside of work.  That tells me that the application is both poor designed and poor executed.  Sadly, this is very common.

The company for which I work is a mid-size corporation, and a niche of a niche industry.  No single package accomodated the needs of the business, and so twelve years ago a decision was made to develop the foundations of what I now support and expand.  This was risky at the time, and not inexpensive.  Hoards of contract developers were hired to build the thing from scratch.  Sometimes the problems inherent in hiring out work are apparent, as when I review a customer invoicing program where a discouraged maintenance programmer added a comment Beware all ye who enter here:  This program is incredibly complex, and small changes can have unintended effects.   

Then, sometimes I run across a gem: the simplest possible, clearest code.  This is brilliance.




* Quote – merci to the collection at, Copyright: Kevin Harris 1995



2 responses

  1. You know, wouldnt it be great to have a whole company of clones of you, David and a few choice others to write the perfect code?? Wouldnt that be nice to have a set of like minded individuals who knew where each other was coming from and played on the same team?? Wow… what a concept.. like speaking the same language or something unrealistic like that!

  2. That wouldn’t work as you would get similar errors replicated (and which may, therefore, not be perceived as errors and remain hidden for years). With a variety of people you get a variety of different errors, all of which become terribly apparent all too quickly! The same applies in Biology where interbreeding produces clones or near-clones incapable of resting infection or environmental change.

    So in life, sow your oats widely, and in business recruit diversely (but keep a .357 and a baseball bat under the desk)

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