Category Archives: Product development

When a README accidentally becomes a manifesto

I recently started work on a project I’m calling Ensemble. Ensemble will be a minimalist data-sharing platform. It will allow data scientists to quickly and easily create public dashboards with little or no technical expertise.

In the process of writing a project README, I realized I had accidentally written my software development manifesto, the distillation of my thoughts on crafting valuable software in today’s environment. The document does discuss some specifics of this project, but the broader points do apply generally.

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Less is more

When writing software, we should approach our own ideas with skepticism. We have more ideas than users have needs.

Features do not guarantee success. If they did, we would line up to trade smartphones for punchcards. Myspace would acquire Twitter. Picasa would be the new Instagram. This doesn’t happen. The history of software is the history of simplicity and elegance winning. We succeed when we attend to what really matters, not when we build every feature imaginable.

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