System design & architecture

Some of the most important things in the world are intentionally designed “simple”. In any system, the potential for error directly increases with its complexity - that’s why most elections still work by putting pieces of paper in a box.

We assume that complex problems always require complex solutions. We try to solve complexity by inventing tools and technologies to address a problem; but in the process we create another layer of complexity that, in turn, causes its own set of issues. Obviously not every problem has a simple solution, and most complex tools exist because of real usecases. But there’s a lot of value in actively questioning the need for complexity. Sometimes the smarter way to build things is to try and take some pieces away, rather than add more to it.

Developers are obsessed with the notion of “best practice”. It implies that there is one correct way of doing things, and all other solutions are either imperfect or, at worst, “anti-patterns”. But the definition of best practice changes everytime a new technology arises, rendering the previous solution worthless garbage (even though it still gets the job done). There is an undeniable ego factor to the way we use technology in our projects. To show everyone else how clever we are, we come up with harder and harder ways to achieve our tasks. And of course they all solve specific problems - but that does not mean they are always the best solution, regardless of context.

hat tip: https://mxb.dev/blog/on-simplicity/