Wednesday, April 20, 2005

On simplicity

There is a new commercial on n-tv. It shows a very expensive pen and describes its history. The pen shown is the one that was developed for the NASA space missions. Its development costed over 1000000$. It then proceeded by showing a stupid, ordinary pencil accompanied by the words "This is how the russians solved the problem".
But I know another, similar example. Did you ever compare vacuum cleaners when at a store? I did-and oh boy, what a difference. A Siemens machine regulated suction power with an electronic system that was controlled with a multitude of buttons. The Progress one had a adjustable hole in the jet. You could slide a little piece of plastic over it to increase power. I owned and used both-and never noticed any advantage with the electronic one.
So, here is today's TamsPalm hint for developers. If the user does not notice a technical deficit and it doesn't hinder development-ignore it.
A collegue of mine is currently rewriting his-IMHO excellent-german warehouse manager. The new version will be all-dynamic. There will not be one line of old code in it.(his words)
And this is where I ask:why? His current version is stable and fast. It has a nice array of features and works very well. Does the user feel a difference between static and dynamic code? Do you?
Let's finish it for now. Next time you refactor/rewrite, just keep one thing in mind. Simple can be good too.

4 Comments:

Blogger Steven Fisher said...

That's an urban legend.

1:15 AM  
Blogger Tam Hanna said...

Hi,
thank you for clearing this! I didn't know-but actually, the story still explains my point.
Best regards
Tam Hanna

8:04 PM  
Blogger Steven Fisher said...

Yeah, I agree, it doesn't take away from your point at all. But I thought you'd like the story. :)

4:00 PM  
Blogger Brad Green said...

How much of an urban legend is it? I know NASA spent some money designing those pens that work in space, and I can clearly picture the russians using pencils. They sell those pens in the Sharper Image stores in the US, though I dont think they carry pencils. You have to go to Wal-Mart if you want pencils.

8:29 PM  

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